‘Smoking Gun’ — Spoilers – IndieWire

[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Justified: City Primeval” Episode 7, “The Smoking Gun.”]

Before handing over the long sought-after murder weapon, Trennell (Joseph Anthony Byrd) asks Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) a simple question: “You sure you can use it?” Can Raylan take this gun, a gun that could’ve saved Sweety (Vondie Curtis Hall) on more than one occasion, and use it to, if not avenge his death, then bring his killer to justice? Raylan says he can. He’s sure he can. Except, by the end of Episode 7, “The Smoking Gun,” that firearm isn’t locked up in an evidence locker or even held by law enforcement. It’s at the bottom of a river. And how it got there neatly sums up Raylan’s continued frustrations with the maddening depths of a labyrinthine Detroit legal system.

Of course, the most straightforward use comes and goes the quickest. Raylan turns the gun over to Maureen Downey (Marin Ireland), as he should, expecting her to bring in Clement Mansell (Boyd Holbrook), do the whole “CSI” thing, and put him on trial for multiple homicide. Instead, she brings in… Darryl Woods (Corey Hendrix, who you may recognize from “The Bear” and/or “Fargo”). Woods was an early suspect in Judge Guy’s murder investigation, but he was quickly ruled out. Now he’s back, with Downey badgering him into becoming her patsy. She says she found the gun in his things — the gun Raylan just gave her — and doesn’t flinch when it’s suggested the only reason she’s doing all this is because her name is in the late judge’s little black book, too.

Ahsoka Star Wars series (Rosario Dawson) Disney+

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JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL Episode 6 "Adios" Pictured: (l-r) Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens, Victor Williams as Wendel Robinson

Framing an innocent man may have marked the end of the gun’s journey, if not for the redemptive actions of one Norbert Bryl (Norbert Leo Butz). Detective Bryl doesn’t care for Raylan’s accusation that he’s a dirty cop and tells him as much, while confessing to manipulating the law a bit anyway — and, more importantly to the case at hand, returning the pistol to Raylan. The only hiccup: How can Raylan link the gun to Clement if the lead investigator won’t do it? Short answer: Bait the Wildman. Long answer: Well, here’s where things get complicated again.

Before a trap can be set, Raylan tracks down Sandy (Adelaide Clemens) for their second chat in as many days. The first was a direct plea to reason: Raylan has the murder weapon that Sandy was supposed to get rid of, so she better accept his protection (requiring her to testify against Clement) or face the dire consequences of failing her not-so-fun boyfriend. Sandy, however, is too scared to run off with the cops, but she’s also too scared to think straight. She flees to her other, no-longer-fun boyfriend, Skender (Alexander Pobutsky), who’s still in the hospital with injuries caused by Clement (and thus, Sandy). The Albanian hot dog king feigns understanding for as long as any reasonable person could (60 seconds), before informing his ex of her new reality: “You are a dead woman.”

Yikes. Sandy’s first thought was the best thought: I think you’re in big trouble, girl! Finally grasping her plight, Sandy packs a bag, throws Clement off her trail by fluffing his ego (“You really want to hear the way I sing?”), and heads to the airport. Raylan is there soon enough, and she sets up a meet for the two men in exchange for a one-way ticket straight out of Dodge.

None of that, however, is what’s complicated. What’s complicated is Raylan’s plan for his intended final sit-down with Clement.

Adelaide Clemens, MVP of “Justified: City Primeval”Courtesy of Chuck Hodes / FX

This isn’t the first (or second, or third) time Raylan has sat across from a suspect, daring them to draw. He knows Clement’s smart enough to recognize when he’s being “tricked” into putting his fingerprints on the murder weapon, but he also knows Clement is too proud and too anarchic to back down from a shootout. One by one, Raylan ticks off the reasons Clement should do it, and little by little, Clement starts to see things the Marshal’s way. All indications point to Clement grabbing that gun and adding one more tally to its body count, up until the Albanians crash their mano a mano party.

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So… what was Raylan’s actual plan? Was the gun simply not loaded, despite his assurances otherwise? Did he think he was fast enough to disrupt Clement before he got a clean shot off? And if he does manage to get fingerprints on the gun, would the attempted assassination of a U.S. Marshal be such irrefutable evidence even the Detroit P.D. couldn’t cover it up? Of course, given Raylan’s history, there’s a chance it wouldn’t get that far. Maybe he wanted a quick draw as badly as Clement did, just so he had a legal-enough excuse to take a toxic criminal off the streets for good. Part of him did, to be sure, which gives the scene a tantalizing edge, but I’m not so sure Raylan is willing to go to those lengths anymore.

Alas, we’ll never know what would’ve happened at the Detroit airport’s Radisson, but we’re about to find out just how much he’ll tolerate now that the Albanians are in control of Clement’s fate. Lest we forget, they’re the reason Clement was ready to skip town anyway. The law may not scare him, but mob justice sure does — and it may prove too sinister for Raylan, too. I doubt he’ll be throwing Clement a gun to lend a hand in their escape (like he did, years back, with Boyd Crowder), but he’s not one to tolerate vigilante sentencing (unless it’s his idea). All season long, Raylan’s way of doing things has been challenged. His faith in the system, his trust in his peers, his very understanding of bad men and what they deserve — he’s reconsidered everything, and the finale will undoubtedly force him to decide what ending lets him sleep at night. If, that is, the decision is still his to make.

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Grade: B+

“Justified: City Primeval” releases new episodes Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX, and they’re available the next day on Hulu. The series finale will premiere August 29.

(El)More Leanings:

  • S👏A👏N👏D👏Y — if Episode 7 marks Adelaide Clemens’ last appearance in “Justified: City Primeval,” she bows out as a Hall of Famer. Every one of her scenes — in “The Smoking Gun” and, honestly, the rest of the season — is elevated by her presence, as written (by episode scribes and co-showrunners Dave Andron and Michael Dinner) and as performed by the great Ms. Clemens. She makes the most of little moments — like the way Sandy looks around the room when Clement asks if anything’s missing, expressing confusion and irritation until she remembers, “Oh yeah, I did steal and sell his painting, didn’t I?” — as well as the major ones, like when she has to lie her way out of Clement’s suspicious gaze and cries out, “How’s that supposed to make me feel?” I know Raylan doesn’t believe her when she promises to “live honest” going forward, and he shouldn’t. But I want to believe Sandy will always be out there, somewhere, doing hair or becoming the next great entrepreneur. Just as soon as she deletes some pictures.
  • In the opening, that hard cut from Sweety showing an adolescent Carolyn his dream bar to Sweety being carted off to the morgue outside the ashes of said dream, well, that one hurt.
  • It’s nice to see Clement’s origin story circle back around in the penultimate episode, when he tells Carolyn (Aunjanue Ellis) an alternate version of what happened to his mama. Did she get swept off the face of this earth by a tornado, or did she get killed by her own son for sleeping with too many (other) men? You get to decide, dear reader, but I think we all know the truth.
  • “Can you explain what Twitter is?” (Hoping this gets decent meme traction.)

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