Tuesday, August 29, 2023

REVIEW: 'Justified: City Primeval' - Raylan Decides What Outcome With Clement He's Comfortable With in 'The Question'

FX's Justified: City Primeval - Episode 1.08 "The Question"

Raylan and Carolyn cross the line, as Raylan attempts to make it out of Detroit alive.

"The Question" was written by Dave Andron & Michael Dinner and directed by Michael Dinner

The murder weapon was thrown into the river to force Raylan's compliance with the deal Carolyn struck with the Albanians. She negotiated for his safety. He has to accept the justice Toma is willing to deliver. Clement used the door in the safe room to crush Skender's leg. Toma decides to trap Clement in that room with no way to escape. Clement has always managed to get out of every situation unscathed. Toma believed that would be impossible. Clement still manages it. He relies on the incompetence of others. The bonds of this Albanian family are strong. Toma is meant to get justice for his nephew. Instead, Skender takes that responsibility for himself. He needs to kill Clement. He enters the situation despite his physical injury. It's easy to overpower him. It's more incredible when Clement storms the retirement home and kills all the Albanians. He then travels to Carolyn's home to exact the final piece of justice against those who tried to take him out. Carolyn and Raylan spent a day reckoning with this choice. Carolyn traveled to Lansing to make her case for appointing her for the judicial vacancy. Meanwhile, Raylan joined the team that brought Maureen in following the reveal of the secret deal she made to testify against criminals in Guy's courtroom to ensure they went to prison. That was a formal arrangement she had. It was documented by the judge. She believes she always imprisoned people who deserved it. Their convictions were determined based solely on her testimony. She rendered her judgment not caring what anyone else thought. Other officers in her unit are corrupt. They just weren't caught in this particular scheme. Their egos led them to believe they are perfect on the job. That's a fatal mindset. It makes police believe their actions cannot be questioned. Raylan isn't perfect. He grapples with the morality of what must be done on the job. He is committed. He has never questioned his place in law enforcement. His pursuit of Clement has made him doubt his abilities. Again, this criminal gets away with everything. It's only because Raylan can't live with the Albanian punishment that he realizes Clement escaped. He can't alert the Albanians before their massacre. He warns Carolyn though. She escapes to freedom. She is protected. This story has always been about the final confrontation between Raylan and Clement. That possibility was taken away from them. Raylan always wants the final shootout. Clement teased him into believing in that eventuality. That isn't the outcome here. That does just as much damage to Raylan's psyche on the job as him pushing his daughter away because he can't have her in danger while doing so.

Raylan could never leave the U.S. Marshal's office. He has always been too committed to the job. That was the issue in his relationship with Winona. History repeated itself with Willa. He wanted to spend this summer with her. Instead, he got invested in this case in Detroit. It was far away from their home. It happened through extreme circumstances. He couldn't leave. Willa had no reason to stay. It wasn't safe for her either. She felt her father never wanted to be with her. That was devastating. Winona could handle it because she was an adult in a healthy relationship struggling with this issue. Willa is a teenager. She feels everything much more vividly and loudly. Winona is grateful Raylan could make this sacrifice for Willa. He is stepping up to do the right thing. He takes early retirement. It's not a decision he makes in service to his family. He could still have a bright career in law enforcement if he wanted it. He could become the new chief of the Miami office. He always clashed with his boss. They still respected each other. Raylan could make that transition. It would provide more time for his family. The perfect balance could be found. Raylan needs to be in the field hunting criminals. That's the job to him. It hasn't changed no matter how long he's been employed by the federal government. He forms personal connections everywhere. Things got intimate with Carolyn quickly. She too is fighting for her own identity in this world. She achieves that. She could live with the choices she made to get to the judicial bench. Now, it's all about the work she can do while there. She had to talk up her experience defending criminals and prosecuting threats against the community. She has to balance all sides fairly and impartially. Her resumé is impressive. She has the influence to make this appointment happen. She yearns for Raylan after he learns. She reaches out hoping they can talk about what happened. It may all be moot though. Raylan expected a gunfight with Clement. The criminal annoyed him like so many of them do. He reached for something in his pocket. Raylan unloaded his gun into his chest. Raylan hasn't lost that skill. However, Clement was unarmed. That means Raylan wasn't justified in acting in self-defense. He can reasonably be assumed to have feared for his life. That's how the system operates and even rewards his behavior. It's not something he can personally live with. Honoring his code is what gets him to leave the job. His family are the beneficiaries of that decision. And yet, the story doesn't offer that easy and concise ending.

This season prided itself on not just rebooting the stories and characters from Justified. Raylan was placed in a new environment with new challenges. He was the only character to continue. Winona was mentioned but never seen. Willa expressed a desire to visit Harlan County but never made the trip. The season didn't require viewers to be aware of the events of the former series to understand what was happening here. It offered more dimension to the choices Raylan made as he pursued this investigation. Everything was self-explanatory enough for newcomers to understand the role he plays. That all changes with the final act. It begins with Winona dropping Willa off as Raylan paints the outside of his house. He's putting the effort in to change his world. A fresh coat of paint and a trip on a boat may not be enough. He still carries himself with a focus on the job. A week after he retires, Boyd Crowder breaks out of federal prison. Boyd was the reason why Raylan returned to Harlan. It took years for him to build a case. It was meant to keep Boyd imprisoned for the rest of his life. Raylan could move on with his life as soon as he concluded that business. It now rears its head once more. Boyd seduced one of the guards and created fake medical symptoms that would prompt a transfer to the hospital. It's all an elaborate ruse to break free. He asks his new partner in crime where she wants to go. Mexico is the destination. Soon afterwards, Raylan gets the alert that this blast from the past is causing drama once more. He may feel personally motivated to bring Boyd back into custody. He always expressed personal ownership and responsibility over the case. He had to be the one to get it right. He felt that pressure dealing with Clement Mansell and the entire system in Detroit. That came at the expense of his family. He broke free. He made that choice. He's willing to explore what else is out there. And yet, the world refuses to let him make this decision. He reads the alert as it comes across his phone. The office calls immediately because of his history with Boyd. The phone rings and rings. He's with Willa on a boat. The temptation is still prominent. That may never go away. Raylan may never change. Winona accepted that. She learned how to move on. Willa is experiencing it repeatedly now. History repeats. That is certain. It's left ambiguous though. That may foreshadow a need to continue with these characters - with a renewed passion for those who populated the former series. It's also a way to play to the emotional strengths of the material for Raylan after the adventure in Detroit became much more focused on plot over character during the second half of the season. That sentimentality is surprising and earned. It's also a device used to guarantee interest and thrills for the conclusion of the season that has little to do with happened in the ten episodes preceding it. That's notably and leaves an overall mixed impression.