By Mandi Bierly
March 12, 2013 at 12:00 PM EDT
Prashant Gupta/FX

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched this week’s episode of Justified, “Get Drew,” written by Dave Andron and VJ Boyd and directed by Billy Gierhart, stop reading now. A familiar face returned and forced Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Ava (Joelle Carter) to make a decision they may regret after Shelby/Drew Thompson (Jim Beaver) went on the run with Ellen May (Abby Miller). They fell into the wrong hands, but Drew finally ended up with Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) — who now has to get him out of Harlan alive. As he’ll do throughout the season, showrunner Graham Yost takes us inside the writers’ room.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The opening scene was interesting because we found out that Boyd didn’t know that Arlo was dead, and Raylan didn’t tell him. Boyd later heard it from Drew.

GRAHAM YOST: We discussed that a lot. I’ve told you many times of the level of Tim’s involvement in this show. I think having a scene where he told Boyd, we weren’t sure what he would be trying to do. It sorta felt like it would be needling Boyd or petty. And it’s always fun to see what Raylan doesn’t say. He’s not the most loquacious of characters. In the classic Western tradition, he keeps his cards pretty close to his chest. So he would only tell Boyd if he had to tell him.

The exchange they did have — with Boyd telling Raylan that he could still be an a–hole and shoot people, his two favorite things, if he’d become an outlaw — made me miss seeing Boyd and Raylan together. Will they have more scenes together as we enter the final chapter of the season?

There’s a wonderful bit in the next episode — and I can say that because I co-wrote it with [Chris] Provenzano, so of course it was wonderful (Laughs). In 12, they’re not together, I don’t believe. And you get a big sequence together in the last episode. We always get to this thing with our Marshal advisor, Charlie Almanza, who says, “Why doesn’t Raylan just arrest him? You don’t have to prove anything to arrest someone, you just arrest them.” And so, that’s why we dealt with that at the beginning of 10. Yeah, he’s in custody, and he has to weasel his way out. But it makes it difficult at this point of the season if Raylan was to run into Boyd: Why doesn’t he just arrest him?

Drew was going to run on his own, but he went back to get Ellen May after seeing a stray dog on the road.

That was Andron’s idea. I was thinking, “Oh great, you tell production that you need a dog wandering along the side of the road at night.” It turns out you get a good guy with a dog, and they can wander along the side of the road at night. It was poetic that he sees this lost animal, and Ellen May is no better, no different.

After the plan to catch Drew at the airport is aborted, there’s the roadblock where we got the “whore’s underwear” conversation in which Raylan realizes Drew has Ellen May, and Art’s speech taking a moment to acknowledge how badass Drew is. What was the inspiration for the latter?

That is a great speech and Nick [Searcy] just nailed it. Originally, Raylan gave that speech, and then Tim being Tim said, “You know, let’s give it to Art.” It was suggested by a story that we heard from Charlie and another Marshal who came to visit the set. I can’t tell you exactly what happened because we may steal the actual story someday, but it was, at some point, one Marshal saying, “Well, I’ll call LAPD, and they’ll get their helicopter,” and the other guy said, “Whoa, wait a second. Let’s just acknowledge that this guy is awesome, okay? And you want someone else to catch him? No, we’re gonna catch him.”

The scene where Ellen May is driving and thanks Shelby for coming back to get her as he’s lying in the backseat — hearing her talk about Mexico, you really wanted them to escape, which is what made what happened next so heartbreaking.

If you were to watch that scene again, you realize that Shelby has already decided what he’s gonna do: He’s gonna get her to safety, and then he’s gonna go turn himself in. You watch Jim Beaver’s masterful work lying down in the backseat, and there’s an air of melancholy and sadness to him. He’s playing along with her talking about Mexico and the Catholic church and Spanish, but he already knows that they’re not going there.

Ava told Boyd that Ellen May had been friendly with a new character, Nicky Cush (True Blood‘s Daniel Buran), who owned Audrey’s before Delroy. He told Boyd that Ellen May had always threatened to go to Limehouse when she was mad.

Looking for an interesting foil for Boyd, we just thought of this guy who’s a bit of a conspiracy nut, although that doesn’t play that much in that scene. Nicky Cush does appear again. I’m not gonna tell you when.

Johnny (David Meunier) called a sleeping Wynn to tell him that Shelby is Drew, and Mike brought Wynn the phone wearing his robe. Little things like that always get me.

Those are the little things that we honestly get a huge kick out of in the room. When Andron and VJ came up with that, we all just laughed. We just thought it was funny. And then let’s give Duffy a sleep mask. (Laughs) I think when they shot the first take of it, Mike was not wearing the robe, he was just shirtless. It was like, “Okay, we kinda think that Duffy is gay, but we don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with it, but let’s just make it more mysterious.” And him in a robe is funnier. We never lose sight of the fact that we want to be a funny show.

NEXT: Limehouse returns

How did you decide to bring back Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), who Ava went to when Boyd told her she needed to leave until the Ellen May situation was resolved?

That idea just came into the room. I told Mykelti at the beginning of the season, because we’re old friends from Boomtown, “I don’t know if you’re coming back, but we’re certainly talking about it because we love you and love what you’ve done with Limehouse.” We just felt this pull to get up into Noble’s, and we knew that this was a place where Ava had hidden out in the past. We also knew that one of the whores in the previous season had been giving information to Limehouse, so we knew there was a connection there for Ellen May. It all made sense.

Drew took Ellen May to Limehouse, thinking he could pay him to keep her safe and then get her out-of-town, but Limehouse already knew Shelby is Drew. How?

The big thing that Limehouse has is an intelligence network. Last season, he always seemed to know what was going on before everyone else did. So our supposition is that he’s got someone who, for a little bit of money, gets him information from the sheriff’s, the police department, a Statie, something like that. So while law enforcement was trying to keep a lid on the fact that Shelby is Drew, someone on his payroll found that out and told him.

After Boyd told Ava that Ellen May and Drew were with her at Limehouse’s, Limehouse brought Ellen May in to see Ava.

I loved the way Joelle played it — both terrified of this girl, and yet not really betraying anything, playing it very straight. And Ellen May being Ellen May, she is just a naif. She’s not the whore with a heart of gold; she’s the whore with a certain level of innocence. Not in all her scenes, but at this point — post-church — she’s been kind of innocent. So we loved that odd pairing of the two of them in this context. It was really all to drive toward Ava’s last line: “How much for the both of them?” When we hit on that, it really landed. That’s a great line for Ava.

How did you decide on the figure Limehouse asked for — $150,00 each?

We knew that Boyd had gained $300,00 from the Clover Hill guys. We thought that’s something that Limehouse, through his intelligence network, would also know. So he’s just cleaning Boyd out.

Which is why Boyd asked Nicky Augustine for $500,000.

Right. That’s classic Boyd.

The scene between Teri (Cathy Baron) and Johnny was great, when she’s just tired of everyone talking about Ellen May.

That’s what we call our “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” scene.

And then Johnny agreed to help Raylan get Drew. That’s an interesting move because it doesn’t get Johnny any closer to grabbing Drew for Duffy, it just keeps Boyd from delivering him to Nicky Augustine and Theo.

This is one of those scenes where we debate back and forth: How much do we want to lay out, and how much do we want the audience to put together? Johnny figures out, and Raylan figures out, that it’s in Johnny’s best interest for Raylan to get Drew rather than Boyd. Because if Boyd gets him, then Boyd’s a made man. Johnny can never take him down. If Raylan gets him, and that will hamstring the Detroit outfit, Boyd will have no protector, and it sorta opens all that up again.

Johnny’s in trouble, too, with Wynn, but Boyd’s in worse trouble because he’s dealing directly with Nicky and Theo?

Right. And to an extent, Johnny could imagine that by Theo being taken down, that would also solve a lot of things for Wynn. There’s the problem of working for someone as powerful as Theo Tonin, which is he can have you killed at any time. But if he’s gone, then things could kinda just go back to the way things were.

NEXT: Joelle Carter earns a spa day, and that Tarantino homage

Boyd showed up at Noble’s Holler, and Limehouse changed the deal — now it’s $300,000 per person. Was that always Limehouse’s intent, or did he just do that because Boyd was a dick?

I think it’s because Boyd was always a dick, and also, there are things we took out: We had an exchange between Ava and Limehouse where he’s sort of surprised by her darkness. Because you love spoilers, there’s a scene about that in a subsequent episode. So we didn’t want to hit it on the head here. We wanted to be a little more opaque about what Limehouse’s rationale would be. But part of it is, I think, he was just kind of amazed that she would say, “How much for the both of them?” So he’s turning on Ava as much as he’s turning on Boyd.

Boyd and Ava debated who Boyd should choose to take with them — Drew or Ellen May.

For the story to work, we needed him to grab Drew. We felt it also made a certain logical sense in terms of his devotion to Ava that he would suggest that they get Ellen May, but it’s ultimately Ava’s call because Ellen May is a threat to her not to Boyd. By her saying Drew, that allowed Boyd to do that which he probably wanted to do from the start.

Ellen May was so upset about them taking Drew, she spit in Ava’s face — wow.

I have to tell you this: Dave Andron bought Joelle an afternoon at a spa to thank her for that scene. It only happens once in the show when you see it, but there were many different takes of that. It was pretty disgusting. It turns out Abby is quite a remarkable spitter. It was not stunt spit or anything.

Boyd sent Colt to deliver Drew to Nicky Augustine, which is an interesting choice considering Boyd knows Colt fumbled with Ellen May. Why didn’t Boyd take him himself?

If Boyd was caught there, if something went wrong, then he’s in jail for the rest of time. So he was willing to risk Colt: If something goes wrong, Colt takes the fall.

It was clear long before Colt commented on it that Drew was trying to get Colt to shoot him as they waited for Nicky to fly in on his helicopter.

You’ll see we’re going to be on a little bit of a Tarantino homage kick with this episode and the next. There’s a great scene in True Romance, which Tarantino wrote, where Dennis Hopper gets Christopher Walken to basically kill him because he’s afraid if he gets tortured he’ll give up information. So he goads him into killing him. That was a little bit of a tribute to that.

Johnny told Raylan where Nicky was to pick up Drew, and Raylan arrived in time to nab him instead. Drew told Raylan that Ellen May was at Limehouse’s and may need help, and Raylan didn’t seem too interested.

Pay attention to that.

Should we expect to hear Drew’s story next week?

No, not really. Next week is, as Raylan says, gotta get out of Harlan alive.

It’s so funny: I still see the occasional comment from people upset that the season 3 finale didn’t end with the song “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” (Ed note: Yost explained why in that episode’s postmortem interview).

It’s a little bit of self-referential humor on our part, I suppose, and we hope it’s not too cute.

Boyd told Ava they now have to make a case to Theo Tonin or run.

At the very top of the next episode, you’ll see what choice he makes.

And will we find out Wynn’s decision next episode? Mike’s line asking if you need a passport to get into Harlan, when Wynn was talking about fleeing to Canada, was great.

In a way. We’re lucky enough on this show, because of when we shoot and when we start airing, that we have a certain flexibility to pick up scenes. So that last scene between Duffy and Mike was something that I think we shot during a later episode, 11 or 12, when we realized what we needed to do with Duffy. And also the scene of Raylan and Rachel getting the text from Johnny and heading out [to get Drew], that was a late add. We shot that during our last episode, when we realized we didn’t have Raylan for a while in the show and there was some connective tissue missing.

Are we done seeing Raylan and Johnny work together now that Drew is in Raylan’s custody?

You will see Raylan and Johnny one more time this season.

Art insisted that Raylan will get suspended for his handling of Hunter Mosley last episode.

That will come to bear, but not in the next episode. The next episode follows almost directly on from this one and is about getting Shelby out of Harlan.

That sounds like it’s gonna be fun.

It is a fun one. As [FX President] John Landgraf said after watching it, “That’s a good Western.”

Read more:

‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks Drew Thompson reveal in our weekly postmortem

‘Justified’ postmortem: EP Graham Yost talks Arlo’s death

Timothy Olyphant explains how he was fired from ‘Practical Magic’ — VIDEO

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