Is it worth watching Justified?

Reviving “Justified: City Primeval”

Due to their unique qualities, only a few shows lend themselves to natural revivals. “Justified,” the critically acclaimed FX drama featuring Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, might not initially seem like a prime candidate for a return after its Emmy-winning series finale in 2015.

Justified: City Primeval
Justified: City Primeval

However, the show is making a comeback on July 18 with a limited eight-episode run titled “Justified: City Primeval.” The logistics behind bringing back TV’s coolest lawman make sense: “Justified,” known for its excellent six-season run with mostly stand-alone arcs, is perfectly suited for a one-off limited series. With its perfect blend of comedy and drama, the beloved show has garnered respect from the Hollywood industry and has a profound understanding of the unique narrative value of its setting. While it remains to be seen if “Justified: City Primeval” can recapture the magic of its original run, here are 10 crucial insights you should know about the new series before diving in.

Unveiling the Literary Inspiration

It’s based on another Elmore Leonard novel. The character of Raylan Givens first appeared in Leonard’s novels “Pronto” and “Riding the Rap,” and later in the short story “Fire in the Hole,” which served as the basis for “Justified.” The revival draws inspiration from yet another Leonard work: the 1980 crime novel “City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit.” Although the book doesn’t feature Raylan, the creative team decided to merge the character with this captivating narrative.

A Familiar Tone in an Unfamiliar Setting

Despite a new setting and characters, “Justified: City Primeval” maintains the essence of the original series. Executive producer Sarah Timberman describes it as an extension of the show, adopting a storytelling approach that remains true to its nature, even though it now takes place in Detroit. One of the defining features of the original series was delving into the lives of characters beyond the main cast, and the revival continues this tradition. Joining the series are Vondie Curtis-Hall, Aunjanue Ellis, and Adelaide Clemens, who portray intriguing characters that expand the show’s universe.

Introducing Clement Mansell: A Different Type of Villain

Meet the formidable new antagonist, Clement Mansell. Unlike the memorable and layered villains of “Justified” like Mags, Limehouse, and Markham, Mansell is a wildcard. With plans and desires that may not adhere to conventional methods, he doesn’t hesitate to take detours or act impulsively when something catches his attention. This unpredictability makes him incredibly dangerous, and reasoning with such a man becomes futile.

Premiere Date and Summer Run

Mark your calendars for the premiere. “Justified: City Primeval” is set to debut on Tuesday, July 18, at 10/9c on FX with two back-to-back episodes. Subsequent episodes will air weekly, and you can catch them on Hulu the next day. This summer run diverges from the original series’ traditional winter/spring slot. The timing of the revival’s release may pose challenges for its Emmy prospects since nostalgic voters tend to favor shows that air closer to the awards season.

Willa’s Transition: A Dramatic Timeline Shift

A notable change in the revival is the portrayal of Raylan’s daughter, Willa. Despite the timeline discrepancy, with 15 years having passed since Raylan left Harlan for Florida, Willa, who was a sweet 4-year-old at the end of the series, is now a headstrong 15-year-old in the revival. Portrayed by Timothy Olyphant’s real-life daughter, Vivian, this creative choice adds dramatic depth to Raylan’s character as he faces a ticking clock with his impending mandatory retirement from the marshal service.

Exploring the Fate of Beloved Characters

Get ready to uncover the fate of beloved characters from the original series. The producers initially hesitated to bring back characters from the original run, but eventually decided to explore the idea if it made sense organically within the story. While they remain tight-lipped about specific characters, they assure us that we will learn what has happened to some of our favorites. Fans can only hope that the enigmatic Wynn Duffy, played by Jere Burns, is one of those returning.

Self-Awareness and Character Continuity

The revival demonstrates self-awareness regarding the evolving perception of law enforcement. The producers initially aimed to avoid bringing back characters from the original run, but their stance changed when they realized that it could work organically within the story. Familiar faces from the original series do make appearances in the revival, although not always in the expected manner. This approach aligns with the show’s distinctive quality, as the characters possess a level of self-awareness, acknowledging their flaws, shortcomings, and the complexities surrounding their roles.

To Watch or Not to Watch? The Viewing Experience

While you can watch “Justified: City Primeval” without prior knowledge of the original series, it is not recommended. The new series is designed to stand on its own while extending the existing universe. You can follow the story without prior context, but certain storytelling decisions and emotional nuances will have a more profound impact if you understand Raylan’s backstory and his complicated relationship with his late father, which influences his choices as a parent. Additionally, long-time fans may enjoy discovering Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the revival.

Concluding the Journey or Opening New Doors?

The ending of “Justified: City Primeval” leaves room for interpretation. It serves as both a satisfying conclusion to Raylan’s personal journey and a potential starting point for a new chapter. While the creative team’s exact plans remain unknown, Timothy Olyphant expressed his willingness to continue extending the universe. So, who knows? We might not have seen the last of Raylan Givens.

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