Justified: City Primeval Starts with More Florida Elmore Leonard Goodness

The Hulu TV series Justified: City Primeval starts off in South Florida like so many great filmed Elmore Leonard adaptations. Like John Travolta in Get Shorty or George Clooney in Out of Sight, Timothy Olyphant is in our familiar setting of intense humidity. Olyphant replays his U.S. Marshall character Raylan Givens that he portrayed in 78 episodes of the series Justified a decade ago. But no knowledge of previous Justified episodes are needed to enjoy this new arc.

It starts off with a father and his teenaged daughter driving through the Everglades and it quickly veers into prototypical Elmore Leonard territory. Leonard, the beloved crime writer who passed away a decade ago creates worlds where life is cheap and one-liners are plentiful. Everyone’s a character with a scheme, a quirk, and a temper. None more so than Raylan Givens. He always has on his Stetson hat even though he’s fighting crime deep into the 21st century.

Like many of the afore mentioned Elmore adaptations, Justified: City Primeval doesn’t take long to get itself out of the Florida heat. Givins with his daughter in tow soon finds himself on a case in Detroit. The show leans heavy into the differences of the cold Midwest setting where instead of talking about Dwyane Wade and Gloria Estefan, conversations center around Isiah Thomas and George Clinton. But whether Michigan or Miami, there’s always a plethora of smooth talking sociopaths leaving cold dead bodies in their wake.

In the two episodes that have already aired it hasn’t yet been revealed what exactly the main plot of the eight episode series is. But the meandering is enjoyable. There’s plenty of action and interesting conversation to keep you riveted and amused. This is a collection of characters you might now want to be in the same room with, but like monkeys in the zoo are amusing to watch from afar. So far it seems the crux of it all is the conflict within Givins on whether the sadism that makes him such an effective crimefighter, is a side he wants to reveal to his daughter. Thankfully we have six more episodes to see what else is up this intriguing show’s sleeve.

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David Rolland

David Rolland edits the Jitney blog. He is the author of the novels Yo-Yo & The End of the Century.