Will Raylan Die in Justified: City Primeval? Theories

Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), the protagonist of FX’s ‘Justified’ and ‘Justified: City Primeval,’ is the quintessential neo-Western lawman, a 19th-century gunslinger trapped in the 21st century. The original series concluded in 2015, and the ‘Justified’ universe’ reflects how much time has passed in the real world. Raylan is older and wryer, with more salt than pepper in his hair. After he is forced to stay in Detroit, Michigan, by a judge, Raylan becomes entangled in the murder investigation of the said judge, and that leads to his encounter with Clement Mansell, AKA The Oklahoma Wildman, one of the most dangerous and unpredictable killers Raylan has ever encountered in his career. If you are wondering whether Raylan will die in the revival series, here is what we think. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Will Raylan Die in Justified: City Primeval?

The original series is based on a series of books by Elmore Leonard, especially ‘Fire in the Hole.’ The revival series primarily draws from ‘City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit,’ a novel with a different protagonist, Detroit detective Raymond Cruz. The series creators, Dave Andron and Michael Dinner, injected Raylan into the narrative, effectively relegating Cruz to a supporting character. Raylan’s inclusion in a story where he originally doesn’t appear creates an interesting unpredictability. The plot can go anywhere the writers wish it to, including Raylan’s death. The series creators said as much in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

“If you’re bringing Raylan back, you put him up against a really, really bad guy who doesn’t have any problem killing people, because Raylan could die,” Andron stated. “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.”

Dinner echoed the sentiment of his partner, adding that they wanted to remain faithful to the “three-hander” narrative of Leonard’s book, where the scope of conflict also includes the lawyer representing Mansell. “We wanted to stay true to that,” he said. “When American crime fiction is working on all cylinders, you have a feeling that cosmic forces are maneuvering people together and that one, if not all, of them will not be standing at the end. Raylan’s made it this far, but will he survive this? He very well might not.”

The series creators also made it clear that they were not looking to create a multi-seasonal sequel to ‘Justified,’ insisting that ‘Justified: Primeval City’ would be a limited series. “It’s kind of a gem in Elmore Leonard’s collection. This is kind of the granddaddy for Raylan’s character, in a way,” Dinner told the same outlet. “We didn’t intend to reboot ’Justified,’ we didn’t intend to pick up where we left off, but we thought it would be interesting to, what I call, ‘do a mashup.’ What if we took our character and dropped him into the middle of this story, and yet pay homage to a character that was in the book and also do service to the book? It wasn’t so much trying to recapture the past, but to recapture the feeling that we had working together in the past, so we took Raylan and put him into this story.”

The volatility of Mansell as a character adds considerable uncertainty to the narrative. Not even people close to him know what he will do next. His sudden visit to Raylan’s daughter comes as a surprise for many, including his lawyer. This is what makes him so dangerous for Raylan, as he is self-destructive enough to do things that other criminals will not do.

One of the main aspects of ‘Justified: City Primeval’ is Raylan as a father, something the original didn’t explore. The introduction of Willa as a prominent part of the story creates a source of weakness for Raylan, and Mansell exploits it early in the series. There is no reason for him not to do it again.

Read More: Is Clement Mansell AKA The Oklahoma Wildman Based on a Real Murderer?