By Mandi Bierly
March 23, 2010 at 08:51 PM EDT
  • TV Show

Image Credit: Olyphant: FX, Goggins: Robert Zukerman / FXLast Tuesday, Justified became FX’s highest-rated series debut since The Shield. The show follows U.S. Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens (Deadwood‘s Timothy Olyphant) as he’s reassigned to his native Kentucky, home of his remarried ex-wife Winona (Dirty Sexy Money‘s Natalie Zea), his criminal father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), his high school crush Ava (Joelle Carter), and the old coal mining buddy-turned-racist church bomber/bank robber he had to put a bullet in last week, Boyd (The Shield’s Walton Goggins). Here, a few things we have to look forward to this season. SPOILER ALERT:

More Walton Goggins: At the end of Fire in the Hole, the Elmore Leonard novella upon which the pilot was based, Boyd dies. Goggins, however, was too good for the show to let go. In tonight’s episode (10 p.m. EST), we see the effect the shooting had on Boyd, and it’s not what you’d expect. The show’s already alluded to the complicated relationship Raylan has with his dad, who we’ll finally meet in episode 5. Then comes Boyd’s father. “So the boys and their daddies, it all gets rather loaded,” Olyphant says. “The second half of the [13-episode] season inevitably becomes much more serialized than the first half. The first half you’re just kinda letting these things percolate and come up. But around episode six or seven, that’s when you really feel like we’re cookin’ with gas. Toward the final third of the season is when it becomes a classic sort of Hatfield-McCoy thing where there’s lots of history between those families.”

• Raylan not being perfect: We’re waiting to see if he’ll sleep with Ava, when he shouldn’t. She’s just killed her abusive husband (Boyd’s brother) and is the only witness to Raylan shooting Boyd in her home. “That really plays out early, in the middle part of the season. His decisions and the ramifications that they have,” Olyphant says. “There’s this thing about Raylan that’s really wonderful. As cool as he is, he sometimes does things that are arguably kinda stupid. There’s this great thing in the books, where he’ll just take someone at their word. ‘He said he was gonna do that. I took him at his word, and he lied to me. And for that I got in trouble or punished.’ As much as he feels like he’s got his s— together and is kinda in control of things, he’s capable of making mistakes, and mistakes that sometimes have major ramifications.”

That leads into another character trait that attracted Olyphant to the role: “One of the great themes that runs through a lot of Elmore’s work is people and their tendencies to recreate situations only to have the same results,” he says. “Elmore wrote a short story called Karen Makes Out, about Karen Sisco falling in love with this guy who turns out to be a bank robber, and she ends up shootin’ him in the leg. And in Out of Sight, she falls in love with Jack Foley, George Clooney’s character, who’s a bank robber and she ends up shootin’ him in the leg. Raylan’s a similar character in the books.” In episode 4, we meet a character, Roland Pike (guest star Alan Ruck), who Raylan was supposed to bring in years ago. Pike told him he was going to the bathroom and he’d be right back, and Raylan went to get an ice cream. Pike bolted. That character is based on one from Leonard’s books. “In the book, Raylan meets that character again six years later. The guy’s a witness and Raylan’s there to protect him. They’re out to dinner, they get along. The guy says he needs to use the bathroom. Raylan tells him, ‘Remember the last time you told me that?’ And the guy laughs and he kinda waves goodbye. He gets up and leaves. Raylan sits there for five or 10 minutes, then he starts thinkin’ It’s been a while. The guy’s gone. But Raylan put himself in the exact same situation to see if the guy would do the exact same thing, in some unconscious way.” Does that mean Raylan will try to get back with his ex, Winona, and if so, how soon? Olyphant dances around the subject for a good minute or two, then finally admits, “I’m not answering your question is the bottom line, but I do think it will be satisfying.” (The press material for the show says, “Raylan will always love Winona, but she won’t have anything to do with him. Until she needs his help getting her husband out of trouble.” So fingers crossed.)

• Learning more about Raylan: “One of the most attractive things about the character to me is that Raylan often reveals very personal things about himself to strangers, to criminals, as a way to get a point across. It’s this wonderful thing that Elmore does in the books, and I find that to be so f—in’ cool because it’s different from the clichéd character you’ve seen over the years — you never saw those [lawmen] talk about themselves. The character won’t talk about himself to people that he knows, but he often times reveals things to people he’s never met… Elmore Leonard’s really good. That’s all I know,” Olyphant says, with a laugh. “At the end of the day, what I’m saying is, he’s really, really good. He’s obviously cool and funny and hip, but he’s very subtly really tapped into human behavior and the unconscious in a much more profound way than I think often he’s either given credit for or you see on the surface.”

• Situations that look familiar to Elmore Leonard fans, but are just a bit off: Leonard is an executive producer on the series and has been very gracious with the show’s writers, allowing them to pull inspiration from his novels so they can capture the right tone and feel. The lawyers, not so much. Another studio owns the rights to the novel Pronto, for instance, which features the scene that opened the series — Raylan shooting gangster Tommy Bucks at a Miami restaurant. Because it was referenced in Fire in the Hole, they could do it on Justified, but they couldn’t take it verbatim from the book. “The scene’s great in the pilot, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great. But it’s just the two of us, and it’s very straight forward,” Olyphant says. “I knew what it could have been. The scene in the book starts with four people at the table. There’s a girl in a bikini and a guy who’s a bookie. And then it slowly goes down to these two guys. It’s classic Elmore Leonard, it just sort of moseys. Ours sort of gets right to it.” According to Olyphant, Leonard is writing a new short story featuring Raylan, who’s also the main character in the novel Riding the Rap. “It’s the first thing I talked to him about when I met him. Everyone was talking to him all day, and I’m like ‘Has anyone asked the obvious f—ing question? Could you write something else?’ He’s apparently writing a 50-page story that we could use or not use, depending on how we want.” Season 1 is wrapped. Another reason to hope for a second season…

• Humor: In our Q&A with Olyphant last week, he talked about how there’s a game going on between himself, Zea, Goggins, and Nick Searcy (who plays Raylan’s boss, Chief Deputy Art Mullen) to see who can bring something unexpected to a scene when the cameras roll. That also happens with the guest cast. In episode 4, Raylan is trying to bring in that man who eluded him once before. Roland Pike (Ruck) has since become a dentist. At one point, Raylan asks him why he chose the profession, and Pike references Hermey from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. “Oh, the little gay dude?,” Raylan says. Was that in the script? “It was in the script by the time we shot it,” Olyphant says, smiling.

• Fans discussing his walk: But not Olyphant.

EW: What’s the secret to your walk?

Olyphant: I don’t think it’s the same walk as any previous walk. I think he moves differently than characters in the past. I could be wrong.

EW: So then what’s the secret to Raylan’s walk? I actually spent some time thinking about it, and you don’t move your arms when you walk.

Olyphant: I do on this show though.

EW: I don’t think you do.

Olyphant: Take a look at it. I think on this show, it’s a little bit looser.

EW: Well, I was thinking that maybe you keep your arms still because Raylan would never want his hand too far away from the gun in his hip holster… Or am I just thinking way too much?

Olyphant: I think you’re thinking too much… [Laughs] I have nothing more to say on this subject.

EW: Is it a sensitive subject?

Olyphant: No, it’s not. I think people talking about the way I walk sounds great. Me talking about the way I walk sounds moronic.

[EW: Watch the final scene in tonight’s episode, and tell us if he moves his arms.]

More Justified:

Timothy Olyphant talks Justified, his evolving career, and our Dream Emmy Ballot

Ken Tucker on Justified

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