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Justified: City Primeval: Release Date, Cast, Storyline, and Everything to Know

Raylan Givens is headed to Detroit

Liam Mathews

Plenty of shows have been rebooted/continued/revived for the sake of... well, we're not sure, but few have been warmly welcomed to return and even fewer have pulled the comeback off well. That's probably not the case for Justified, which gets a follow-up with the upcoming Justified: City Primeval more than eight years after the original signed off. The limited series comes to FX and Hulu this summer.

Justified: City Primeval is based on the Elmore Leonard novel City Primeval. Leonard, of course, is the late, legendary crime novelist who created the character of Raylan Givens. The twist is that the novel is not about Raylan Givens, so the story is being retrofitted for America's favorite basic cable marshal. It's set in Detroit, where Givens gets drafted into trying to apprehend a dangerous criminal named Clement "the Oklahoma Wildman" Mansell (Boyd Holbrook) when all he wants to do is take his daughter Willa (Vivian Olyphant) on a nice road trip. 

Here's everything we know so far about Justified: City Primeval.

Timothy Olyphant, Justified

Timothy Olyphant, Justified


Justified: City Primeval latest news

Justified: City Primeval will be a return to the world of Justified... but only sort of. "You're not going to recognize anyone — the world, the relationships," Olyphant told Entertainment Weekly. "I just don't think you're going to see what's coming. On one hand, I really missed the cast from the original series, and on the other hand, I was so in awe and honored to work with the cast on this one." With Raylan out of the hollers of Kentucky, it seems as though City Primeval will feel like a different show with a very familiar character.

"For all intents and purposes, as far as I'm concerned, we are doing a new show," City Primeval showrunner Dave Andron, who worked on the original Justified, said. "Sure, we have Raylan — we knew that was money in the bank — and we have Elmore's book, but we had to create this whole new world for him to be in, this whole new cast of characters. I was just trying to make sure we didn't f--- it up. We understood that we ended the show really well the first time around, so we didn't take the plane back up lightly."

And in case you thought this would be a cakewalk for Raylan, think again. Andron wasn't afraid to tease that because this is a miniseries, Raylan could *gasp* die. "This is a limited [series] and Raylan could very well not make it out of this. Every season we ended the show with 'You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive,' but then he does. Right up until the end of the show, you know Raylan's not going to die, and obviously he did not at the end. But I think, at this point, all bets are off."

Justified: City Primeval storyline 

Justified: City Primeval is based on City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit, Elmore Leonard's breakthrough 1980 crime novel. The novel is about homicide detective Raymond Cruz, who goes after the Oklahoma Wildman after he assassinates a judge. His mission to bring Mansell to justice puts him in conflict with various players in the Motor City's seedy underworld. But since Justified: City Primeval replaces Cruz with Givens, the setup is different, with Givens and his daughter ending up in Detroit due to some machinations we won't spoil here. 

Here's the official synopsis from FX: "Having left the hollers of Kentucky fifteen years ago, Raylan Givens now lives in Miami, a walking anachronism balancing his life as a U.S. Marshal and part-time father of a 15-year-old girl. His hair is grayer, his hat is dirtier, and the road in front of him is suddenly a lot shorter than the road behind.

A chance encounter on a desolate Florida highway sends him to Detroit. There he crosses paths with Clement Mansell, aka The Oklahoma Wildman, a violent, sociopathic desperado who's already slipped through the fingers of Detroit's finest once and aims to do so again. Mansell's lawyer, formidable Motor City native Carolyn Wilder (Aunjanue Ellis), has every intention of representing her client, even as she finds herself caught in between cop and criminal, with her own game afoot as well. These three characters set out on a collision course in classic Elmore Leonard fashion, to see who makes it out of the City Primeval alive."

Justified: City Primeval release date 

Following months of "summer 2023," Justified: City Primeval's release date has been narrowed down to July 2023. The limited series will consist of eight episodes. 

Justified: City Primeval trailer

No trailer yet, but you can find it here when it's ready. 

Justified: City Primeval cast

There's no Justified without Timothy Olyphant as wisecracking U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, so he will of course be back. Beyond him, it sounds like some familiar faces will show up, but City Primeval is not exactly a continuation of the original series. "Some old characters do show up, but that's one of those things the audience is going to have to get their head around: It is a pretty new cast," executive producer Dave Andron told Entertainment Weekly. "It's a new group of cops that are around him. It's cops in Detroit, not marshals in Kentucky, and it really is a standalone Raylan story, just with a few old friends sprinkled throughout."

The big question is, will Raylan's nemesis Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) return? The two men's complicated relationship was the heart of Justified's original run. The last we saw Raylan's old coal-digging buddy-turned-career criminal, he was getting arrested after getting captured once and for all by Raylan. Presumably he's still locked up. Maybe Raylan will check in on his old frenemy, but from what it sounds like, don't get your hopes up.

Timothy Olyphant, Justified

Timothy Olyphant, Justified

FX Networks

Main cast members:

Justified: City Primeval filming location

Justified: City Primeval is set in Detroit, but aside from some second-unit footage, it was primarily filmed in Chicago. 

The production was affected in the summer of 2022 by a shooting on set, which Olyphant discussed in February during an appearance on Conan O'Brien's podcast, Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend. Olyphant called the shooting "the scariest goddamn thing," saying it "went on forever."

Do you need to watch Justified before City Primeval

Nope! While having familiarity with the original series would of course deepen your understanding of City Primeval and Raylan Givens, it's not necessary to follow the series. It's a new story set in a different location with a mostly different cast that's described as an "extension of the universe." 

"You don't need to have watched the show," Adelaide Clemens said at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. "There are little Easter eggs for fans of the show. But yes, it's an expansion of the universe."  

If you've never watched Justified, you might want to before City Primeval comes out, because it's fun, but if you like Elmore Leonard, Quentin Tarantino, or witty crime dramas in general, you can jump in and watch City Primeval.

How is Quentin Tarantino involved in Justified: City Primeval

Speaking of Tarantino, the Jackie Brown filmmaker was initially reported as being slated to direct episodes of City Primeval. That turned out to not be the case, but Tarantino did play a part in the genesis of Justified: City Primeval. According to co-showrunner and director Michael Dinner, Tarantino had wanted to adapt City Primeval as a movie years ago, but it never happened. Meanwhile, the Elmore Leonard estate had been in touch with Dinner about adapting the novel, one of Leonard's most acclaimed and popular books. These streams converged when Olyphant appeared in Tarantino's movie Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood

"...One day the phone rang and it was Tim Olyphant who said, 'I've been sitting on the set with Quentin, and we were talking about this book, City Primeval. We thought it would make a great year of Justified,'" Dinner told Entertainment Weekly. "So we started kicking around the idea, and FX was into it." After they figured out a complicated rights situation and how to convert it into a Raylan Givens story, City Primeval came into existence. 

At the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Dinner spoke about the challenge inherent to bringing Justified back years after what's considered one of the more satisfying series finales of the past decade. "We were concerned, because we felt like we stuck the landing," he said. "But we weren't trying to recapture the show that we did. We're trying to recapture the tone." They all loved the book, and they were interested in checking in with Raylan Givens again a few years down the road from where they left him — and "his road's a lot shorter in front of him than the road behind," as he's facing mandatory retirement from the marshals service in a few years, and more generally a changing world that he doesn't really fit into anymore. "And so we felt we could take this story that we really liked a lot, and we could inject Raylan into it," Dinner said. 

Where to watch Justified

The complete original series is available to stream on Hulu. Justified: City Primeval will air on FX and stream on Hulu.