SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t watched this week’s Justified episode “The Hatchet Tour,” written by Taylor Elmore and Leonard Chang and directed by Lesli Glatter, stop reading now. We learned Drew Thompson’s new identity as Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) took the long way around transporting Hunter (Brent Sexton), and Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Ava (Joelle Carter) discovered the truth about Ellen May. As he’ll do throughout the season, showrunner Graham Yost takes us inside the writers room.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you decide that Shelby (Jim Beaver) would be Drew Thompson?
GRAHAM YOST: We didn’t know until we were finishing up breaking episode 405. We had played with various other possibilities. Initially, we were thinking Drew would be a Clover Hill person. And then we thought, “Eh, we don’t really know them. We’re not invested.” And then we thought maybe Josiah [guest star Gerald McRaney], who got his foot chopped off. “Yeah, but we were thinking we wanted Drew to go on the run, and that wouldn’t work.” And then I got a call that Ben Cavell in the writers room had hit on an idea. It might have come up before that, and we all just kind of pooh-poohed it. But in that context, he said, “What if Shelby’s Drew?” And we put [story editor] VJ [Boyd] on it — we jokingly call him Storytron 6000 — and he’s brilliant at tracking everything back and saying, “Okay, in season 2, this is what we knew about Shelby…” So he tracked it back and found that it could fit with a few little nudges. Tim’s response immediately to it was ours: We liked the idea of a guy who was on the run from the law working as a sheriff’s deputy for years and then becoming the sheriff. That was partly suggested by something that [EP Fred Golan] had read about, a guy was running for Congress and then it was found out he was living under a stolen identity. Then it became a balancing act: We wanted to support the answer, but we didn’t want to give it away. The thing is, in this modern world, people really pay such close attention to everything in a show, and because of the various forums and blogs and feeding off each other, it’s harder to really pull it off as a complete surprise.
Is finding Shelby/Drew the focus of the rest of the season?
I’ll tell you that episode 10 is the getting of Drew, and then 11 is a big complication, and then 12 wraps up another big story of the season that relates to Shelby, and then 13 [the season finale] is all the unforeseen consequences that have arisen because of this whole thing for both Boyd and Raylan.
Tell me about the idea for Raylan to transport Hunter and take him to Duffy — that motor coach scene was great, from Raylan sitting on the counter and kicking Hunter’s chair over to Raylan sitting on the couch with Wynn and Wynn giving his condolences.
Because we didn’t know that Shelby was gonna be Drew for some time, and the decision to kill Arlo came kind of late in the game while we were about to start shooting [last week’s] episode, my original pitch for episode eight was that there was an attempted assassination and then in nine, Raylan drags Arlo out of prison and takes him on what we call the Magical Mystery Tour just trying to shake out of him the name. And so we had this idea of Raylan taking someone from prison and dragging him around. So when Tim said, “You know what, I really think we should kill Arlo in eight,” it took me a while to wrap my head around that. But it became clear that was the right thing to do. Then we decided, well, wait a second, now his father’s been killed by someone he knows — Hunter — what if he pulled him out of prison and dragged him around? That became the impetus for the episode, with the notion that Duffy would be his first stop. It’s another great Raylan-Duffy scene with a different cast on it. Not to compliment ourselves, but we really enjoy that scene.
Let’s talk about Hunter rolling out of Raylan’s car and trying to get himself hit, then Raylan beating on him. I assume that wasn’t just frustration on Raylan’s part that Hunter wouldn’t give him Drew’s name.
It was actually Brent Sexton not having fun in the scene, so he jumped out of the moving car and then Tim just went after him, so we incorporated it into the show. No. Raylan seems all fine and dandy with the fact that this man killed his father, and we wanted that one moment where maybe there’s a little something else going on. That’s from Raylan’s side. From Hunter’s side, he would rather die than be tortured to death in prison, but under no circumstances was he gonna give up Drew’s new identity.
And then Hunter and Shelby told Raylan about Arlo shoving dog crap down a man’s throat who’d talked dirty about Frances. Raylan seemed almost proud of Arlo in that moment.
I think Raylan was proud of him in that moment. That was Leonard Chang who really arced out that part of the story — that we hear three different versions of that story, basically, over the course of the episode. It’s just a slight little mystery as to what really happened, and I think it has to do with how Raylan saw Arlo. It goes to the final lines of the episode, really: “Who are you gonna be like, Raylan? Are you gonna be like Frances, who was a peacemaker, or are you gonna be like Arlo, who would go to the ends of the earth to exact revenge or right a wrong?” And that’s the central issue of Raylan Givens.
What did Hunter mean when he told Shelby, “Sorry about Arlo, it should have been clean and easy?”
Hunter killed Arlo on his own initiative. That wasn’t something that Drew had asked for. He was just doing it to protect him. There’s a question still in our mind, because Shelby hadn’t reached out to Hunter and said, “Would you kill Arlo for me,” whether it was something Shelby even thought would be necessary. But Hunter seeing how things were going thought it would be. It was just the depth of their bond. We call that scene in the backseat [where Shelby said goodbye to Hunter] the love scene. It’s these two middle-aged, balding bearded men, and if they’d kissed, I wouldn’t have been surprised. No. It was a sweet scene, and we needed that scene to accomplish a lot — which is to understand the depth of the feeling between these two guys that went back 20+ years.
After Raylan breaks up Constable Bob’s hilarious shootout with Lee and Gerald, it’s Constable Bob who tells Raylan about the history between Shelby and Hunter, which leads Raylan to deduce that it’s Shelby who Hunter is protecting.
Right. That was just something that came out of the room. Look, Bob was introduced as a one-off, basically, and we had so much fun with Patton Oswalt, we thought well, let’s bring him back. And then when Cavell came up with the idea of Shelby as Drew, then we started to think, well, how does Raylan figure this out? And then someone came up with the notion that Bob would be the one who had inside knowledge about the relationship between Shelby and Hunter back in the day, that they’d always been very good to him when they were handling his probationary period after putting Ollie Kemp in a coma. It’s one of those things where you’re like, Wow, this actually all comes together. The idea that Bob would provide the crucial clue that gives Raylan the realization we thought was pretty sweet. And, Bob got to shoot an automatic weapon, so that was also pretty sweet.
Are we done seeing Constable Bob this season?
Raylan’s last scene with Hunter: Hunter apologizes for killing Arlo and Raylan tells him his last visit with Arlo was nice — he told him he loved him, he thought he was a good boy, he was sorry for being a dick, and he’d be watching him.
In the first draft, it was interesting: Raylan basically asked, “Did Arlo say anything?” and Hunter said, “Yes, he told me to tell you that he loved you and he’s sorry.” And then the idea was to put it in Raylan’s mouth, and you realize he knows who his dad was. The last thing Arlo said to him was, “Kiss my ass” — there was never gonna be a redemption of that relationship. But at the same time, over the course of this episode, at least he does hear that story that is totally Arlo but the good side to Arlo’s meanness.
Art was not happy about Raylan taking Hunter for a ride.
It’s just always fun to see Nick [Searcy] play Art mad. He just does it so well. There will be ramifications. I will say that taking Hunter on that Magical Mystery Tour will have consequences in Raylan’s career. Nothing huge, but it does play a part in the rest of the season.
NEXT: Boyd and Ava learn Colt’s been lying
Moving on to Boyd’s side of this: After Cassie came into the bar looking for Ellen May, who’d tried to reach out to her, Ava and Boyd weren’t sure if Ellen May was alive or if Cassie was trying to shake them down. Colt went to see Cassie, and Gutterson, who’d been following Colt because he suspected Colt was involved in the deaths of his friend Mark and the drug dealer, saved Cassie. Boyd, having heard about Colt from Johnny, convinced Gutterson to let Colt leave with him. Boyd took Colt back to the bar to question him. Why didn’t Boyd kill him?
The big reason was Devil betrayed Boyd and was going to kill him; Colt screwed up and didn’t tell him. There was nothing malicious about it. He wasn’t trying to hurt Boyd. He wasn’t betraying him the way Johnny is with Duffy. So that was critical. I think he feels for Colt, being a vet himself, and he can see that Colt is struggling and he made a miscalculation by bringing him on, but there was no ill will. Walton loved that scene on the page, and then he got to the stage and had second thoughts about certain things, and they sat with him and ran it through, and it ended up coming back to pretty much the way it was written. The whole giving Colt the gun and making him show Boyd where he shot Ellen May, when I read that, I just thought that’s fantastic. By that point, Boyd knows what’s going on, so we know the gun’s not loaded. But Boyd was wondering if he was gonna hear a click. Was Colt gonna try [to shoot him]? In which case, Boyd would’ve killed him. But he didn’t.
So what position does Colt have in Boyd’s army now? Boyd needs man power, but he knows Colt isn’t at the top of his game?
That becomes part of the story of ten, and then also into eleven and twelve as well.
I liked that scene between Gutterson and Cassie. Was that starting something, or just a way to get at why Tim didn’t shoot Colt (“When I take him down, his eyes will be clear”)?
You’ll have to see. By which I mean there is another Cassie-Tim scene coming. It’s not super-romantic, but at least there’s something. Poor Cassie. She says, “It’s been a while since anyone’s shown me any kindness.” It’s been a rough spell for her.
It sounded like Boyd wanted to buy that house for Ava. Did he?
We will see that house again.
Ava’s great line to the realtor, “Thank you very much, we don’t need your s—” — was that scripted?
That was scripted and something that dear Joelle did with relish. We enjoy that class friction and that hypersensitivity they both have.
Boyd sent Ava away when it became clear that Ellen May was, in fact, still alive and trying to reach Cassie. But I don’t think anyone believes she’d actually leave.
Oh, no. She goes. She goes away. But the question is: How far does she go? And where does she go? You find out in episode 10. And episode 10 will have the surprise return of a beloved character, and that’s all I’ll say.
Ava told Boyd, “I should have killed her myself,” and Boyd said, “It may come to that.” An exchange we should remember?
It’s funny, in editing, that was in, it was out, it was in, and then it stayed in. Yes, that does mean something.
After Boyd heard from Colt that he’d talked to Shelby about Ellen May, Boyd went to Shelby’s house, and Raylan and the authorities were there waiting. Did they arrest Boyd for breaking and entering?
At the start of ten, you’ll see that he’s in custody but not in jail. Because once Boyd realizes why Raylan is there and says “Drew Godd— Thompson,” Raylan doesn’t want him running off and telling the Detroit mob who Drew is.
It was interesting that when Boyd arrived at Shelby’s house, we didn’t see Ellen May. What happens to her now that Shelby/Drew is on the run?
It is interesting, isn’t it? One would wonder where Ellen May is now. Very early on in episode 10, you’ll see. When Shelby grabbed Ellen May at the end of 404, and then we find out in 405 that he’s got her, we had no idea that he was Drew at that point. We had scripted that before we knew, and that ends up having great stuff we can really play with. That’s just one of the things working on this show — throwin’ a lot of stuff up in the air and then just seein’ what sticks, what we want to follow. That also means that there are a few balls that get dropped, a few things that we didn’t quite do as well as we might have in the course of the season. But then there’s other stuff that materializes, and I’m willing to make that deal.