Justified: City Primeval Episode 4 Recap — “Kokomo” Gets There Fast and Takes It Slow

Raylan stands on the street in Justified: City Primeval Episode 4, "Kokomo"
CR: Chuck Hodes/FX

The following recap contains spoilers for Justified: City Primeval Episode 4, “Kokomo” (written by Taylor Elmore and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton).

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.

Justified: City Primeval Episode 4 starts off where last week’s episode ended with regard to Sandy (Adelaide Clemens), Clement (Boyd Holbrook) and Skender (Alexander Pobutsky). Despite Sandy’s protestations, Clement decides to smush Skender’s leg in the door to his secret room (though perhaps we should note that Sandy helps, even if she was coerced into doing so).

This is not something that makes any sense, and even though Clement’s “wildman” status has been well established in the first few episodes of City Primeval, maiming Skender strikes me as significantly more reckless than his other actions. Killing the man would have been more extreme, I’ll grant, but leaving him alive to tell the Albanian mafia who crushed his leg just seems excessively irrational, even for a man like Clement Mansell. We have to presume he wanted to kick this hornet nest for reasons that aren’t entirely clear by the end of the hour.

Norbert and Raylan argue in a hallway
CR: Chuck Hodes/FX

Of course, it isn’t Skender who tells the Albanian mob about Clement; Norbert (Norbert Leo Butz) goes ahead and does that, much to Raylan’s (Timothy Olyphant) chagrin. I predicted early on that these two would butt heads frequently, and their ideological dispute is on full display after their meeting with Toma (Terry Kinney). Norbert would be perfectly happy with the Albanians killing Clement. Raylan insists they want to see Mansell put on trial and locked away in a cell.

Toma’s remarks about the difference between order and justice resonate in the background of this disagreement. He has a point when he says that the system is more interested in the former than the latter, and I actually think Raylan would agree. He’s never been concerned with following the letter of the law even if he’s committed to its spirit.

And that’s maybe the key thing: there’s a difference between justice and vengeance. Raylan isn’t above killing, but he always has to be able to convince himself that it was justified—that he had no other choice and wasn’t merely taking revenge. I don’t know if his distinctions ultimately hold water, but he needs them to, psychologically. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts a bullet in Mansell by the time this is over.

Toma sits at his desk
Terry Kinney as Toma. CR: Chuck Hodes/FX

After they track the Albanians to Sandy’s apartment, Norbert wants to sit back and wait for Clement to arrive. Let the shootout ensue and then they can come in and save the day. Raylan rejects the idea, which might save the life of Sandy’s roommate, Hina (Jessika Van), and definitely saves her from having more teeth removed with a pair of pliers. But the melee means that when Clement and Sandy arrive, they see the fallout and keep driving right by. Mansell even waves at Raylan and does a finger gun.

Norbert’s plan might have worked, but that doesn’t shake Raylan’s faith that he did the right thing. He’s committed to doing this the right way. We’ll see if he manages to hold onto that commitment as things continue to unfold.

Carolyn looks over her shoulder
Aunjanue Ellis as Carolyn Wilder. CR: George Burns, Jr./FX

After he stops a pair of Albanians who are trailing Carolyn (Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor), Raylan ends up parked outside of her house for the night to protect her. She brings out some bourbon for them to share and we can see their mutual affection developing. I don’t know if that will turn into romance, but it wouldn’t be the first time Raylan has gotten involved with a woman he shouldn’t have. Either way, if Mansell does bring harm Carolyn’s way, we might see Raylan a little more willing to go rogue.

Meanwhile, there was a reason Clement wouldn’t let Sandy toast a bagel last week: he’d hidden Judge Guy’s little black book in the toaster. Now, he’s tempting Sweety (Vondie Curtis-Hall) with it, which seems to be working. Carolyn tells him she’s arranged immunity for him if he testifies against Mansell, but Sweety wants to use the information in the notebook to get what he wants and turn the tables on Clement at the end of the day. And he suggests they might also use it to get Carolyn on the bench. She seems amenable.

So, as Episode 4 comes to a close, Sweety is dancing with Clement as the latter sings “Kokomo” for some reason. It’s a catchy tune, but I’m not sure if the tone of this scene quite lands. For a moment, it feels ominous, as though Clement might be about to kill Sweety as a surprise, but it doesn’t go that way. Perhaps this is the point, that Mansell is a wildman to the point where some happy singing feels like it might be a threat, but something about this scene felt stilted.

Regardless, halfway through City Primeval things have just continued to get messier and messier. If Clement and Sweety are about to start blackmailing muckety-mucks in Detroit for their various indiscretions, we can expect there’s even more chaos to come. Thankfully Willa (Vivian Olyphant) is now safe at home in Miami.

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

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