Prashant Gupta/FX
April 09, 2014 at 05:10 AM EDT

When Raylan told Rachel and Vasquez that he was leaving, they asked him to help them go after Boyd for a RICO case before he heads to Florida.

One question you might have is, is Boyd really Vasquez’s target? We’ve established he has a really strong animosity towards Katherine Hale, so there will be more to play with all of that.

Well let’s talk about Boyd’s scene in the RV with Katherine, and Wynn, and Mikey.

And Mikey.

Katherine agreed that Boyd is lousy at running heroin, but she said from what she hears, he’s really good at robbing banks.

We wanted to bring Boyd back to being Boyd, and we wanted to be done with heroin, and we wanted to do something that was a little more dynamic and a little more fun. We just thought, well, he was pretty good at robbing banks. So let’s get back to that. The question that’ll come up is, well, what does that mean? Is it just a bank-robbing crew? Or is there something else going on? Is there a bigger score? And the only little hint I’ll give you there is that notion that Raylan is doing one more thing before he goes to Florida. We’re thinking of Art coming back to the office to do one more thing before he retires. We also look at Boyd, and Katherine, and Duffy as, if we do that one last big score, then we can all just go to the south of France — although I can’t imagine Boyd there. But anyway. There’s that thematic thrust of, “one more thing before I go.”

And as we’ve discussed before, that idea of “one more thing before I go” is like saying, “someone is going to die.”

(Shouts) “Mendoza!” Yeah. Before he goes off on his boat called Live-4-Ever.

Are we going to see Boyd robbing banks in differently areas next season or just in Kentucky?

What do you think? He’s gonna be robbing banks in Switzerland?

I just mean we saw him in Detroit, in Mexico this season. Are you focused on keeping him in Kentucky as much as possible in the final season?

Listen, I mean he could go to Tennessee and he could go to Ohio — all within a few hours drive. But it’s that world. The question is, how many banks? And what are we building towards?

Now we get to the final scene of the episode: Ava and Raylan met on the bridge, where we’ve seen Boyd do so much of his business over the years, to go over how she’ll turn state’s evidence.

Here’s the funny thing: So we’re watching it in post, and I said, “Can we lose those frogs?” And they said, “No, we own those frogs.” The frogs were ribbiting while they were shooting. And I said, “Well, what about the sound of the water? Can we bring that down?” And they said, “No, that was real water running under that bridge.” We’re in California. Water never runs under that bridge except for maybe two days a year. But there had been a storm earlier that week, and so there was water under the bridge for the first time, I think, since we’ve ever shot there. If you’re really paying attention, you can see raindrop marks on Raylan’s hat. A big storm front was coming through, so they had to hurry to get that in. As they were shooting the last shot, the rain started to come in and that was it.

The last two lines of the season are Ava admitting she’s scared and Raylan saying, “Don’t be. Everything’s gonna be fine.”

That’s Tim. “Everything’s gonna be fine.” I think that was just a brilliant idea. Because that just sets up, well, man, you just promised her, so you better deliver. So it’s gonna be an interesting season for him. And then the song: We took a break from [using a version of “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive”] in season 3.

And people were not happy. They like hearing that song in every season finale.

Exactly. We didn’t want them to where it absolutely has to be there, although I would say that it’s gonna pretty much have to be there next year. Although we’ll see, maybe we’ll just run it in the first episode. But I had as a goal from early on using a female cover of the song when a season would end with a dilemma for Ava. It really is the question: We know it’s gonna come down to Raylan and Boyd, but what’s gonna happen to Ava? And will she survive this story? Or will she be killed? It felt like almost more than any other time we’ve used it, it was appropriate. The singer is Ruby Friedman, and we heard that version three years ago at the end of season 2, but went with the Brad Paisley version, and then Dave Alvin last year. So it was time for Ruby, and it was actually written in the script that as Ava walks back to the car Ruby Friedman’s version kicked in.

It’s pretty badass and gets you geared up for the final season.

It’s the most percussive version of the song. It has a real drive to it. And also, she did this thing where her version of the song starts with voices a capella humming, and we use that as Raylan and Ava are about to part. [Justified composer Steve] Porcaro just managed to support that and really work his cue, his composition for that scene, right into the song. It ended up really coming together.

Ava’s in such an interesting position with Boyd now: She has to get close to him, but she can’t do it too quickly (which would be suspicious) — nor would she want to, as their reunion showed. Will we have a time jump to start the final season, or will we pick right up?

We haven’t decided. We may have a jump to get Art a little healthier faster. But we’ll see. Or they’ll just shoot him up with Miracle-Gro and he’ll just suddenly recover.

When will you head back into the writers room?

After the Fourth of July. That’s the plan.

We talk about this every year, whether Rachel and Gutterson will get more involved. This seems like the best chance now with the common goal of getting Boyd. 

They’ll be a lot more involved. I can’t tell you how heavy it’ll be. I don’t know how much we’ll do personal private stories, like Gutterson and his friend in season 4, how it came down to him and Colt (Ron Eldard). It may be something like that. It may be something different. But they are going to have more of an investment in the story. Rachel’s one of the driving forces behind Raylan being asked to stay.

We’ve already reported that Mary Steenburgen’s Katherine Hale will stick around for next season.

We’ve made a deal with Ms. Steenburgen, and it’s for a big chunk of the season.

Do you anticipate adding more new Bads or staying with the players we have in the game now?

I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a couple people who came in and achieved some kind of prominence. It’s a simple thing of math: If it’s just Boyd, and Wynn, and Katherine Hale, who exits when? And what do we do until that point?

At this point, do you know how you want the series to end, in terms of who lives and who dies?

Um… They’re all gonna get on a big party boat and go fishin’ in the Keys. We honestly don’t know. Tim and I were talking a couple of months ago, and a friend of his said, “‘You know, I could see this series ending with Raylan living, and I could see it ending with Raylan dying,’ and I don’t know what you’re gonna do.” And Tim said, “That’s fantastic.” So we’re really paying attention to that. So we don’t know what we’re gonna do. BUT, that said, every season, I or someone else in the writers room will come up with a version for the end and we’ll kick it around for a little bit. I had one version at the beginning of this season, then I went to a different one about halfway through. And then at the end, a couple writers said, “You know, what about that earlier version you had?” So we’ll see. We have been thinking about it for sure though.

UPDATE: Joelle Carter phoned Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM 105) to discuss the season finale. Here’s a clip.

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