Justified: City Primeval Finale’s Big Cameo Hit a Snag — But Wound Up Featuring a Callback to Series Pilot

Justified: City Primeval Finale’s Big Cameo Hit a Snag — But Wound Up Featuring a Callback to Series Pilot

The following contains major spoilers from the Justified: City Primeval season finale.

A funny thing happened when FX’s Justified: City Primeval went to stage Boyd Crowder’s surprise, season-ending prison break.

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They suddenly didn’t have a lockup from which to spring franchise vet Walton Goggins’ fan-favorite baddie!

The solution to said logistical hurdle, though, brought with it an unexpected callback to the original Justified series’ March 2010 pilot.

“The Kentucky prison thing was interesting,” says veteran Justified EP and City Primeval co-showrunner Michael Dinner, who also directed the finale, “because when we approached Walton about doing this, he had a very small window [of availability]. He was doing this Jonathan Nolan project (Prime Video’s Fallout video game adaptation), so we had him for a day, a day-and-a-half if we twisted his arm.”

But they did have him. Now they just needed a prison to (albeit briefly!) put him in.

“Our original intention was to shoot the prison sequence in Illinois, around Chicago. And about two weeks before, a call came in from the city and state saying, ‘You can’t shoot in any prisons in Illinois because we’re undermanned due to COVID” during the Omicron surge, Dinner explains.

Riding to the rescue was the area of Western Pennsylvania where the original Justified series filmed its pilot.

“A couple of years before, I had shot around Pittsburgh, in an empty prison there, so I said that ‘if we want to pivot really quickly, I have a prison in Pittsburgh that would be fantastic,'” Dinner recalls. “‘I don’t even have to scout it; I can rewrite the pages exactly how we’re going to shoot it.’

“We made the calls immediately, and the film commission of Pittsburgh really helped us out — usually it takes a couple of weeks to get the permits — and we shifted really quickly to this prison in Pittsburgh.”

With that location change came a visual landmark from the FX series’ pilot: the Layton Bridge and Tunnel in Perry Township, Fayette County.

The Layton Bridge as featured in the ‘Justified’ pilot
The Layton Bridge as featured in the ‘Justified’ pilot
The Layton Bridge in the ‘Justified: City Primeval’ finale
The Layton Bridge in the ‘Justified: City Primeval’ finale

“The pilot of Justified was shot in Pittsburgh, to double as Kentucky, and I said, ‘Man, it would really be great, since Boyd’s breaking out of prison, if we can use that bridge that we use in the pilot, which we repurposed a couple of times during the series.

“We made that call to the film commission and it was like the stars were aligning,” Dinner marvels, “because we got a call back an hour later saying, ‘Here’s the deal: That bridge is about to be demolished in a week-and-a-half. We’ll get you in there and you’ll be the last people ever to shoot on it.'”

“There are two locations that are kind of what I call my ‘repertory company,'” Dinner notes, “and we were able to shoot in this prison, and we were able to go back to where we began on that bridge. In fact, that might have been the first day of shooting on the pilot of Justified, the bridge over the [Youghiogheny] river.”

Did you catch the stealth Justified pilot “cameo” during Boyd’s prison break?

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