George Burns, Jr.

'Justified: City Primeval' Episode 3 Recap: A Return to the Original 'Justified' Form

Still missing the hollers of Kentucky, though.

The gritty two-episode premiere of Justified: City Primeval was a funeral march compared to the show's effervescently funny predecessor — not-your-mother's Justified, so to speak. But this week's installment thankfully taps into some of the whimsy of the original series. Sure, you won't find Timothy Olyphant's more grizzled Raylan Givens pulling idiotic criminals from trailer park brothels, but Justified: City Primeval Episode 3 lightens up a little.

Directed by Emmy nominee Jon Avnet (Fried Green Tomatoes), with a script by acclaimed Justified scribe Chris Provenzano and Eisa Davis (who appeared in Mare of Easttown), the episode, "Backstabbers," centers on Mansell and Sandy's half-hilarious, half-terrifying play on a wealthy Albanian mark named Skender. Raylan, meanwhile, is right at home among the Detroit Police Department banter. Here's a rundown of the details you may have missed (Why did Sandy lie to Mansell? What's Carolyn and Sweety's master plan? Did Skender really bite it?), plus some theories on where the series is headed.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Justified: City Primeval Episode 3.

Mansell and Sandy are (Briefly) Arrested

JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL "Backstabbers" Episode 3 (Airs Tuesday, July 25) Pictured: (l-r) Norbert Leo Butz as Norbert Bryl, Boyd Holbrook as Clement Mansell, Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens.

George Burns, Jr.

Justified: City Primeval Episode 3 opens with Carolyn (Aunjanue Ellis) at home calling her grubby ex-husband Jamal to sort out a six-figure tax lien from the IRS. Clement Mansell (Boyd Holbrook of Indiana Jones 5) shows up unannounced to boast about his bruised face, courtesy of Raylan Givens. Carolyn warns him to stay away from her home and the marshal.

The next morning, Detroit PD arrests Mansell and Sandy Stanton (Adelaide Clemens) in connection with Judge Guy's murder, and sacks Sweety's (ER alum Vondie Curtis Hall) bar. We get a wonderful montage of the three in separate interrogation rooms, but none of them talks. Apparently a massive White Stripes fan, Mansell starts singing "We're Going to Be Friends" in front of the two-way glass for Raylan (Olyphant) to see on the other side. The cops have nothing solid on any of them, so Mansell, Sandy and Sweety walk free.

Station Chief Lou Whitman (Chicago Med's Kenn E. Head) has his Art Mullen moment, agonizing over the fact that Raylan couldn't help but assault Mansell last night. Should he kick Raylan off the case, or keep him where he can see him? Lou opts for the latter, and Raylan is only too willing to remain in Motor City and see Mansell convicted. Carolyn, still acting as Mansell's defense attorney, urges Raylan to ditch the cowboy stuff and convict Mansell the right way — the legal way: "Everybody doesn't get to be angry the way you do," she tells him. Raylan and Willa (Vivian Olyphant) are staying with Detective Maureen Downey (Hell or High Water's Marin Ireland) and her family for added protection. 

Sweety Has the Smoking Gun

Sweety had Mansell's pistol all along, and he stashes it in the jukebox at the bar. It's the key to convicting Mansell: The Oklahoma Wildman used the weapon in the 2017 Wrecking Crew killings (when Mansell shot five people in a drug robbery), and shot Judge Guy and Rose with it. Sweety asks Carolyn what he should do with the gun, and she urges him to turn it in to the police. That could get Mansell off their backs for good. Carolyn hatches a plan to get guaranteed immunity for Sweety in the event he rats out Mansell.

At the penthouse, Sandy lies and tells Mansell that she tossed the pistol in the river just as he instructed. We learn that her wealthy Albanian mark, Skender (who she was with the night Mansell murdered the judge), has a panic room in his lavish apartment, and she and Mansell plan to rob it. Raylan pays a visit to Skender (Daisy Jones & The Six's Alexander Pobutsky), a young tracksuit mafia type who's made a fortune selling hot dogs. He brags about the $27,000 engagement ring he bought Sandy. Before he can marry her, though, he has to get her brother's blessing. "He's loaded, he's in love and he isn't so bright," Raylan concludes. 

Skender's Panic Room

JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL "Backstabbers" Episode 3 (Airs Tuesday, July 25) Pictured: (l-r) Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens, Vivian Olyphant as Willa Givens.

George Burns, Jr.

Sandy and Mansell meet Skender at a restaurant. Predictably, Mansell poses as Sandy's overprotective brother, telling an insane story about how their mother was swept up by a tornado in Oklahoma and never found. (Mansell's mock Southern eloquence has just a few shades of Boyd Crowder's iconic long-windedness.) They goad the unassuming Albanian with alcohol and he promises to show them his panic room. Sandy rides with Skender, and Mansell drives separately. When he spots Detectives Robinson (Victor Williams) and Bryl (Norbert Leo Butz, The Girl from Plainville) tailing him, Mansell runs a red light and the detectives get clipped by another car while attempting to chase him.

After making it to Skender's luxurious penthouse undetected, Mansell and Sandy are shown to the guy's panic room. Problem is, the safe is full of pistols — not the pile of gold bricks Mansell and Sandy were hoping for. Finally, Mansell pulls a gun on Skender and demands he show him to the money.

Raylan drops Willa off at the airport; it's not safe for her to remain in Detroit with Mansell still at large, so he's shipping her back to Miami to be with Winona and Richard (Winona's husband, who was briefly shown in the Justified series finale). In a heartbreaking exchange, she begs to stay with him, but he gets a call from Maureen saying that there's "damage" at Skender's place. Willa gets on the flight in tears, and Raylan heads to the crime scene. 

Questions and Predictions

  • Did Mansell kill Skender? Probably. It's too bad Robinson and Bryl lost him, or else Detroit PD would've been able to place Mansell at the scene of the crime. As it stands, they saw Sandy leave the restaurant with Skender, so she's definitely a suspect. Here's to hoping Mansell's presence at the restaurant is enough for the cops to go off of.
  • Are Robinson and Bryl dead? No. They just got clipped, is all.
  • What was on Carolyn's laptop? Carolyn was applying for an Assistant Judge position at the courthouse, but the questionnaire asked whether the applicant had ever had a lien placed on their property. She closed the laptop, dejected. That fraudster ex-husband of hers has seriously messed up her life.
  • How did Raylan know to question Skender? Sandy was with Skender the night Mansell murdered Judge Guy, and she used that as her alibi.
  • Why did Sandy tell Mansell she threw his murder weapon in the river? Probably to avoid his wrath. I doubt Sandy means to double-cross Mansell. She probably intends on retrieving the gun and ditching it as he instructed at the next available opportunity — i.e. when the cops aren't watching her every move. The problem? Sweety knew about Mansell's little bathroom hiding place all along. Does Mansell know that Sweety knows, or is the Oklahoma Wildman really not too bright?

New episodes of Justified: City Primeval premiere Tuesdays on FX and Hulu.

READ MORE: 11 Shows Like 'Justified: City Primeval' Every Fan Should Binge For More Heroic Lawmen