After almost ten years of being away from the screen, Raylan Givens is finally back, but in a completely different world. In this Justified: City Primeval review, we’ll take a look at how this series stacks up with the first series, and what has changed for the better or worse.
Long time fans had high hopes and were excited to see the witty and charismatic Deputy U.S. Marshal back in the field, but it was quickly apparent that the show was not going to follow the same formatting as the original series, creating some disappointment amongst longtime fans.
However, this is not to say that it’s all bad. There are some great aspects that we’ll dive into, but for fans that have watched the original series, it might not be up to par with your expectations. New fans coming into this blind might be interested, as this first introduction to Raylan is definitely different than what most are used to.
Based on the novels written by Elmore Leonard, the original series aired from 2010 to 2015, with the City Primeval series being based on the “City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit” novel, airing in 2023. And please note that this Justified: City Primeval review will reflect back on the original series.
Diving into the first episode of Justified: City Primeval, you’re introduced immediately to Raylan at an older age and his daughter, Willa, all grown up. The two have adorable banter back and forth that is lighthearted and truly shows that they’re related. The scenery and mood match what fans have known for a while with the wide-open spaces and Raylan reminiscing on past fugitives. It’s refreshing for older fans. Raylan is driving through the country and still holds his no-bs attitude when encountering others, especially those that threaten him and his family.
Even in court when he’s being questioned, he’s still the lighthearted characters as he lightly stretches the truth on certain matters and treats fugitives the same as he did in the country. But the city is much different than the country, and Raylan is a bit out of place. Compared to light greenery of the country, fans are introduced to the dark, neon lights of the city. Not only are the colors around the shows different, but so is how Raylan behaves.
Raylan Givens’ Character
Which brings us to the main complaint of many viewers in Justified: City Primeval reviews. While Rotten Tomatoes has the rating at 92%, the audience disagrees, placing it at a low rating of 56%. Some reviews come in saying that Raylan doesn’t fit in with the new scenery, or that it no longer feels like Justified that many fans know and love, and that so much is out of place. Overall, most people are saying that it’s not a terrible show, but it’s definitely not Justified.
Of course, being in a new city was the intention of the show, but the way they changed around the whole character seems a bit wrong. It would have been a lot more interesting to see Raylan use his skills in Kentucky in Detroit and how he manages to pull it off, not completely disassemble what he knows and place him in the background.
In the first episode, we see Raylan and a team moving through a house while trying to find the person that blew up the judge’s car. While he still has a few of his instincts that fans enjoyed in the original series, we don’t see a lot of it. The team takes control and enjoys the fact that the country boy feels out of place.
Raylan is used to polite hospitality, while Detroit is blunt and fast-paced, causing for weird conversations when trying to find answers. And mainly, we only really see Givens in the sidelines, giving the reigns to everyone else.
The Good Bits
But does that mean it’s all bad? Of course not.
While we miss Boyd Crowder for his psychotic ways, we have another iconic criminal, Clement Mansell. From manipulation over the legal system so he’s able to get away with anything to coming after Raylan’s daughter, we see a criminal mind that Given’s is already itching to put away.
While it’s not the same as mastermind Crowder, Mansell has the same chaotic nature that puts our hearts in the classic Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty chase.
Putting Willa in the care of Raylan was an interesting idea. While Raylan had some women to care for in the original series, he now has more at stake in this series than before. There is always a danger that could go home with him, creating an interesting dynamic with how he chooses to move around in this new area.
This creates a whole new side of Raylan that we haven’t seen. Going from being so independent that he put himself in danger without care, to knowing there’s someone at home waiting for him. While this doesn’t change the fact that he’s usually late, and sometimes forgets to keep his promises, it also shows a new side of him.
While it’s a pro and con, the fact that they’re in a new area was interesting and would have been better if done right. Coming back to Raylan Givens in the country might not have been the smartest move, but going to Detroit was a big chance to give fans the characters we know and love. Their choices of how they used him though was their downfall. If they end up moving forward with a second season, which is doubtful, let’s hope that they take into consideration the fans’ comments and bring back the Raylan everyone loved.
Final Thoughts on Justified: City Primeval
For those that want to see Raylan Givens again, this is still a decent watch. While it doesn’t scream the name Justified, fans can power through it just to catch a shadow of who the Deputy once was, and watching the relationship of Willa and Raylan is interesting.
But for those that don’t want to tamper the image they have of their once beloved character, it might be safer to shy away from the series, as there isn’t much that you’ll miss.
For those that haven’t seen the first series and is interesting in seeing what it’s about, this could be a great weekend binge. All that I would recommend would be to check out the original series on Hulu and take a look at who the main character truly is.
Overall, the reviews are correct. It’s not a bad show, but for those that know what Justified truly is, this is not it. It’s a show on it’s own, and shouldn’t share the same name as the original series.