I had the opportunity to attend the world premiere of Justified: City Primeval in Austin at ATX TV Festival to a packed theater in Texas that included fans, cast, and filmmakers. Raylan Givens has finally returned to the screen. It was an unforgettable experience to share this beloved series with so many other fans. The energy in the theater was electric, and it was clear that everyone loved every minute of it. Kudos to the folks at FX and ATX TV Festival that pulled it off.
The world has changed, and FX’s Justified: City Primeval shows Raylan Givens trying to adapt to that world. Revivals are not easy, especially when a show has as great an ending and send-off for beloved characters as the original Justified did. But the new series recaptures that magic and brings its own specialness to the world of Raylan Givens. It adds to the world and his story, and within the first minutes of watching, it’s hard to imagine ever questioning revisiting this world.
Early impressions of Justified: City Primeval
The dialogue is crisp and almost lyrical, with the trademark dry wit that will have you laughing out loud. The characters are well-developed and complex, with their own unique motivations and quirks. The grittiness and realness of the show will keep you on the edge of your seat.
And, of course, it’s a Raylan Givens story through and through. Timothy Olyphant is effortlessly charismatic, even when his cowboy hat is in his hands, as the U.S. Marshal gunslinger. If you’re a fan of the original show, you’ll love Justified: City Primeval. And if you’re new to the show, you’re in for a treat.
City Primeval takes place years after the series finale of Justified, where Raylan Givens rode off into the sunset to Miami. Raylan Givens has moved on from the Kentucky hollers and is busy being a lawman and raising his daughter. A chance encounter where Raylan is “just doing his job” takes him out of swampy Florida and to Detroit.
Like the original Justified, Justified: City Primeval is based on a story by Elmore Leonard. City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit helped solidify Elmore Leonard’s name in crime fiction – so it’s fitting that it gets a TV adaptation.
The cast & acting in City Primeval
Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens is back, his trademark cowboy hat still firmly in place, even though his hair is now noticeably grayer. But even as time has passed, his wit and drawl are as sharp as ever. It’s no wonder that Olyphant made Givens such an iconic character. The actor’s physical presence – tall, imposing, and with a dangerous and charismatic glint in his eye -perfectly embodies the image of a cowboy lawman. It’s like no time has passed at all.
Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, known for her roles in Lovecraft Country and 61st Street, brings a nuanced, captivating, and vulnerable performance to the role of Carolyn Wilder, a savvy and ambitious Detroit lawyer. Her character has secrets, and as she goes up against the Man in the Hat, we can’t wait to find out what they are.
Olyphant has easy-on-screen charisma with his real-life daughter, Vivian Olyphant, who plays his on-screen daughter, Willa. (Recall from Justified that Willa was just a child when we last left her and Winona in the original show.) Their real-life bond comes through and helps immerse the audience in the story much more. It grounds the show, and they’re a joy to watch on screen together.
You can’t have a hero without a good villain. Walt Goggins’ Boyd Crowder consistently ranks as one of the most interesting and complicated villains in TV history. Boyd and Raylan have a history that infuses their every encounter and carries through to the end of the series.
Clement Mansell (Boyd Holbrook) is the antagonist of the series. He’s formidable – an unpredictable and violent bad guy to his very core. Unlike Boyd Crowder, there’s no history between Mansell and Givens. Givens is operating without an understanding of what makes this guy tick, and that comes through. The pilot episode, elevated by Holbrook’s acting, shows why Mansell is so unsettling and downright scary. There are moments in the pilot episode that will make you gasp. Holbrook’s portrayal of the sociopathic Oklahoma Wildman is chilling, and the showdown between him and Givens will surely be a must-watch.
Family and the past make a high stakes story
The stakes feel real in City Primeval, and we get the sense from the pilot that Raylan and his family are not safe. Not only is the maverick operating in a new world where he has to face the music. Justified: City Primeval is thrilling and combines the best of old-school crime drama with contemporary issues.
There are layers and layers of the story here that are expertly wound together and set up. Justice, evil, greed, and redemption all mix together for fire in the hole. Dave Andron, Michael Dinner, and Graham Yost have come up with a revival that’s a winner. I can’t wait to see how it all unwinds and how we end up at the end. This series is worth watching.
How and when to watch Justified: City Primeval
Justified: City Primeval premieres on FX on July 18th. New episodes will be available weekly on FX and Hulu.
Are you excited to see Justified: City Primeval? Are you rewatching Justified to get ready? Let us know on Twitter or the Discord.