This story contains spoilers for the finale of “Justified: City Primeval.”
Still looking slick and sly in his signature Stetson, U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens found a little bit of romance and a whole lot of trouble in the big, bad city of Detroit during FX’s “Justified: City Primeval,” a reboot of the hit drama “Justified.”
The finale of the eight-episode miniseries on Tuesday shows Givens (Timothy Olyphant) at peace, blissfully retired and hanging out on a boat with his teenage daughter. But although he’s done with fighting bad guys, a ringing phone in the closing moments of the episode is a clue that at least one really bad guy is not done with Givens.
It’s a safe bet that the unanswered call before the final credits has something to do with Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), Givens’ deadly nemesis who was tucked away in a Kentucky prison when we last saw him at the end of the original series in 2015.
The episode shows the smooth-talking outlaw — with the aid of a female prison guard — bolting from a prison transport truck, and racing for the Mexico border.
The Goggins cameo is certain to spark buzz and fan demand for another chapter of the “Justified” saga. And Olyphant would be up for a reunion with Goggins.
“Whether Raylan picks up the phone or not, I don’t know,” Olyphant said. “But everyone involved would love to get the band back together. If we get another opportunity, I would love the casts from both shows to come together.”
In an interview conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike, the return of Goggins was a plan long in the making, Olyphant said.
“My understanding is that idea of Boyd returning came up before we even started shooting,” he said. “It’s a good idea and a big swing. But it only works if everything that precedes it holds up. If we don’t do a good job with that, it feels like some sort of apology.”
Executive producer and director Michael Dinner called the Crowder appearance “the elephant in the room. We knew everyone would say ‘Where’s Boyd?’, and it was decided that we would bring him in at the end and have fun with it. It was a ball to do. Hopefully people will see it and let out a little rebel yell.”
Even though they don’t appear together on screen, Olyphant said Goggins’ return was truly eventful. He referenced their electric dynamic during the original series, which was set in the Appalachian Mountains of east Kentucky.
“It’s not lost on me how special it was,” he said. “I was lucky and honored to work with him. Every scene was a joy — he’s one of those actors who just makes it easy.”
“Justified” was based on an Elmore Leonard short story titled “Fire in the Hole.” “That series was the first act of Raylan’s life, and I think we stuck the landing,” Dinner said. “The story was over.”
But in the interim years, Olyphant and the writers had always clung to the chance to work together again. “We knew that getting away from it for a while would give us the opportunity to come at it fresh without being shackled by the serial nature of ‘Justified,’” he said.
That opportunity came by making Givens the main character in an adaptation of Leonard’s 1980 novel “City Primeval.” “We were looking for the right time and the right spark,” Olyphant said. “The book gave us that spark.”
Returning to his character after several years was no challenge for the busy actor. “One of the great aspects about getting older is that it doesn’t affect your hat size,” he quipped.
“The original intention was to drop Raylan in at ground level and not to bring back any characters at all from the original series,” Dinner said.
In the years between the two series, Givens, a divorced father, has been working in Miami. When the new series starts, he is driving his 15-year-old daughter Willa, played by Olyphant’s daughter Vivian Olyphant, to camp.
Their relationship “is the heartbeat of the show,” Olyphant said. “Even when she’s not onscreen, she’s on his mind. He knows the clock is ticking. He’s got a very small window of time to be in her life in a meaningful way, and that doesn’t come easy for him.”
Olyphant said, with a laugh, that his daughter had never watched “Justified” before she landed the role after auditioning.
“And she still hasn’t watched it,” he said. “She’s got her own life. She’s not interested in what I do. That’s a normal perspective for a kid. My line of work is harder than most.”
Although the thought of having Crowder return for the new series was intriguing, Dinner and the writers realized they had to be careful. “We did not want to do the perfunctory scene where midway through the series Raylan goes to see Boyd in prison like he’s Hannibal Lecter and gets the ‘Here’s what a bad guy thinks’ speech.”
The “bad guy” this season was vicious killer Clement Mansell (Boyd Holbrook), who lives up to his nickname as the Oklahoma Wildman.
But it’s the other bad guy that fans are buzzing about. Which raises the big question: Will Givens and Crowder have another showdown?
“It really is up to FX,” Dinner said. “If we do it, that would be great. There is a third act in Raylan’s life we could explore. But if it doesn’t happen, we did this reboot well, I think.”