Eight years after he walked — gingerly, warily, every joint bent at some odd angle — into the sunset on “Justified,” Timothy Olyphant returns on Tuesday in “Justified: City Primeval,” FX’s one-off, eight-episode sequel to its hit hillbilly noir. “Justified” was one of the most entertaining television shows of the last few decades largely because of Olyphant’s cagey, obliquely sexy portrayal of Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, a fantasy of a frontier lawman, simmering but sensitive, equally quick with a gun or a pithy comeback.

Olyphant does not miss a single syncopated beat in “City Primeval,” which is based on the novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard, who created Givens and traced his career in a handful of books and stories. The character has left the page and become completely Olyphant’s. It’s a wonderfully economic performance, all slouch and sloe eyes, offering a moral thermometer of the fallen world through which Raylan moves via Olyphant’s sly repertoire of expressions: grin, smirk, smile, hard stare, blank bemusement.

Onscreen, Raylan has aged more than eight years — he now has a teenage daughter, Willa (played by Olyphant’s daughter Vivian Olyphant), who was a baby when “Justified” ended. Caustic, character-defining references are made to his advanced years: Chasing bad guys at his age means he’s been passed over or he loves it too much; a retired cop tells him, “You remind me of me, man, when I started out. Except you’re old.” These comments create some cognitive dissonance, because Olyphant, despite some gray hair, doesn’t come off as a day older. That could be seen as a lapse in his performance, but come on. We all know what we’re here for.

And it’s a good thing original Raylan is still there. Because despite the work of a number of the old “Justified” crew, including the writer-producers Dave Andron and Michael Dinner, and an accomplished new cast, “City Primeval” — though handsomely filmed, well acted and ample in its emotions and its violent action — feels, ultimately, like a simulacrum. The body looks good, but a large part of the soul is missing.



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