As played by Timothy Olyphant, the Raylan Givens character in the original “Justified” and the new continuation, “Justified: City Primeval,” has something in common with the most memorable characters played by Clint Eastwood -- from Josey Wales to “Dirty Harry” Callahan.
Like the Eastwood characters, Givens is the one who draws your eyes and holds your interest. While other characters get their own scenes before they come into contact with Marshal Givens, his scenes are the most anticipated.
The rest of the characters sometimes seem like mere filler, even if their crimes and antisocial behaviors have a direct bearing on the plot.
These thoughts came to mind yesterday after previewing the first episode (of eight) of “Justified: City Primeval,” which premieres Tuesday night on FX (and drops on Hulu the next day).
As reported twice before here, the show has U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens working for the United States Marshals Service in South Florida 15 years after mopping up his crime-fighting work in the Kentucky backwoods in the original “Justified.”
A chain of events has him temporarily reassigned to Detroit, where he will come up against a fugitive who is cutting a criminal swath across the greater Detroit area.
This man is a natural-born killer and thief who commits his crimes in Episode One with seeming impunity -- a series of car thefts, and at least two gruesome murders that were provoked by the brandishing of a single finger -- the middle one.
He is so open and nonchalant about his crimes that in the real world he would be run down in a day.
But police work in the real world is not like it is on TV.
Besides, Marshal Givens and his new Detroit-area cohorts are already working on another case, which unbeknownst to them will intersect with the story of this murderous fugitive.
Like the great Eastwood characters, Raylan Givens is a man of relatively few words who handles his interactions with runaway criminals in a manner all his own.
Naturally, to those of us who are watching him in action, any other way of dealing with these dangerous men would get him killed.
His superiors don’t share the same view we do, so time after time they refuse to give Marshal Givens the benefit of the doubt. As a result, he is continually scolded.
Despite their insistence that he carry out his responsibilities by the book, Marshal Givens plays by his own rules and code of honor like the detective characters of true film noir.
His background was revealed to us in the first “Justified.” His origins were in the very hollers of Kentucky in which he faced off against a local criminal organization.
Nowhere in his life story is there any sign that he ever lived in the American West. And yet, he wears a cowboy hat, and is the only one to do so among his peers in the Marshals Service and the Detroit PD.
The cowboy hat marks him as a marshal in the old sense of the word.
He is a man out of time and out of sync. When everyone else zigs, he zags.
It is great to have him back.
“Justified: City Primeval” premieres Tuesday (July 18) at 10 p.m. Eastern on FX, and starts streaming the next day on Hulu.