SPOILER ALERT! This week’s episode of Justified, written by Taylor Elmore, said goodbye to a recurring character, reminded us what Boyd (Walton Goggins) is really capable of, featured Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) using his car as a weapon, and left us seriously concerned for Dewey (Damon Herriman). As we’ll be doing each week throughout the season, we asked exec producer Graham Yost to take us inside the writers room.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was the impetus to get Devil (Kevin Rankin) involved with Quarles (Neal McDonough)?
GRAHAM YOST: The impetus to that was that Kevin Rankin, who is a fantastic actor and who we were so delighted to bring back into the fold last season, got a job between seasons. We weren’t able to step up and make him a series regular because we’ve already got a big cast, so he got a job on CBS’ Unforgettable, which is also produced by Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly, who are producers on Justified. So because of their involvement with both shows, they were able to get Unforgettable to agree that we could use Kevin for three or four episodes, but that was it. So we had to write Devil out because we just couldn’t get Kevin anymore. And that was heartbreaking because he is so wonderful and Devil is a great character. That said, a problem can often be an opportunity. The opportunity there was to show Boyd crossing a line, killing an old friend, an old colleague because he betrayed him. He just couldn’t tolerate that, couldn’t risk it.
Boyd’s mercy shot: Was that to soften the blow of seeing Boyd do this, or was it just really cool?
He’s doing the right thing by his old friend in this situation. Those are the rules they live by. That’s the life they’ve chosen. You betray someone, you get caught, you’re gonna die, but at least Boyd gives him the grace of ending his suffering by their code. I’m not saying I believe that. A friend should have called the paramedics, but that’s not the life they live.
[UPDATE: We spoke to Rankin about his exit on Wednesday morning, from his dressing room at the set of Unforgettable.]
Am I wrong to assume that Boyd knowing Quarles’ plan means they’ll be meeting soon?
You are not wrong. We’ve seen conflict between Raylan and Quarles at the end of episode 3, and now obviously, with the killing of Devil, who was on the road to betraying Boyd to Quarles, I think we can safely assume that at some point, in the not too distant future, there’ll be something between Boyd and Quarles.
There is quite the body count already this season.
I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Is that something you’re conscious of as you plot a season?
Honestly, the big thing is, is Raylan shooting anybody? Bad guys can kill each other all the time. There was a story recently from the Kentucky papers about a guy [allegedly] killing a mayor because the mayor had been having a long-term affair with his stepmother. Horrible crap happens all the time. Now, we’re in Elmore Leonard’s world, so it’s not as weighty and horrible as real life, but it fits within that world — there are criminals, people die.
Do you read Kentucky papers regularly?
I don’t. That popped up on a main page of AOL. But other people in the writing room do.
Let’s discuss Raylan running over the prison guard Ash Murphy (Todd Stashwick) with his car… twice.
As originally outlined, the guy was gonna draw on Raylan, and Raylan was gonna shoot him through the food. Tim was saying, “Man, I would love to go a season without Raylan shooting anyone.” He said, “I don’t mind doing badass stuff. I wouldn’t mind running him over with a car.” We went, “Let’s do that!” And then, “You know what, let’s run him over twice. That makes it funny.” Hitting a guy once with a car? That’s okay. Twice? That’s funny.
And when he popped up in the rearview mirror, he looked zombie-like. Was that a direction someone gave him?
Well, he’s just had the crap beaten out of him. Playing a little bit of reality, if you got hit by a car, you’d be lucky if you looked that good. He’s probably already got a broken leg and a broken arm by that point.
Can you tease any other creative violence we’ll see this season?
Violence? On this show?! Listen, I will say this: Stuff blows up. Someone gets thrown out of a trailer while it’s moving down the road. More stuff gets blown up. One of the things when we were looking at early stuff with Mykelti Williamson playing Limehouse in the slaughterhouse, someone said, “We’ve got to get back in there toward the end of the season. We’ve got to see something happen with those knives.” I can’t guarantee we’re gonna do that, but that’s certainly a challenge that we posed for ourselves.
Speaking of creative violence: Does Dickie (Jeremy Davies) really care about Dewey? He seemed to during the course of their prison escape.
You’re just never sure with Dickie. We call him a cockroach. When all civilization is destroyed, cockroaches and Dickie Bennett will still be alive, somehow, someway.
Judging from the promo for next week, it looks like the prison doc Lance (Clayne Crawford) has removed Dewey’s kidneys and given him four hours to come up with $20,000 to get them back… Who thought of that?
Elmore Leonard. That’s all I’ll say. [Leonard’s new novel Raylan involves the kidney-selling business.]
How weird is this gonna get?
You’ll have to watch. The episode is very Dewey-centric. I will tell you that.
We’ve talked before about why inept guys like Dewey and Wade Messer (James LeGros) survive so long in the Justified world. How concerned should we be about Dewey’s fate?
Dewey gets sunshine and rainbows and unicorns, so everything is sweet. No. It’s a crime show! He’s in terrible, terrible trouble… At the very end [of episode 4], when Dewey is taped to this chair and sees all the medical implements and starts trying to get away — I love those things that are scary and funny at the same time. We all do. That’s something we shoot for on the show. Dear Dewey in the body bag rolling around in the dirt [earlier in the episode]. [Laughs] When I read that, I laughed, and seeing how [director Dean Parisot] shot it and Damon performed it, it was very gratifying.
So Dickie didn’t take Mags’ money back from Limehouse because then the deal would have ended, and as long as Limehouse has the money and will only deal with Dickie, people have to let Dickie live?
There’s an element of that, and it’s also, as Dickie said, “You make that money have babies.” He doesn’t believe Limehouse when Limehouse says this is all there is. That’s part of where the story goes in the last third of the season.
I think fans love it when characters on this show have to save people they don’t really want to — like Raylan thinking he was going to have to save Dickie this episode.
Yeah, when he has to save a bad guy from worse guys, that’s sorta fun for us. And it’s fun for Tim, and it’s fun for Raylan. Nothing proves that he’s a hero more than going out to save someone who really doesn’t deserve saving, but he’s got to.
And so where do we leave Dickie at the end of this episode?
He’s goin’ back to prison, but what happened to him? He was forced to break out of prison by an evil guard. Maybe that could come back in a story point down the road.
Yes, we have seen people walk from prison before on this show.
We’ll see… we’ll see.
A few final rapid fire questions: I love that we got to learn more about Rachel (Erica Tazel) through the conversation she and Raylan had in front of Limehouse. Will we learn more about her this season?
A little bit. We’ve got a big cast and it’s tough sometimes. If any ball gets dropped, it’s sometimes giving enough to our family, who we love so much. If we were doing webisodes for this show, they would all be about Rachel and Tim [Jacob Pitts].
We saw the return of Loretta (Kaitlyn Dever). Are we going to see her again?
You will see her once more this season, at least that’s the plan.
Are we going to see more of Tanner (Brendan McCarthy), the contact that brought Quarles and Devil together?
Tanner plays an important role. You’ll see him in episodes 5 and 6.
Quarles’ “Give me an amen. Give me an amen. Give me a godd— amen…”
That’s Neal. He did it once. He had the idea, and he said to the director, Dean Parisot, “Can I try one more?”
And Dewey’s going to live, right?
Ohmygod. [Laughs] How dare you.