Justified‘s season 2 finale, “Bloody Harlan,” lived up to its name as the Givens/Bennett feud came to a head with a little assist from Walton Goggins’ Boyd Crowder. Goggins phoned EW after the East Coast airing, still anxiously awaiting the West Coast feed so he could watch it himself. If you’ve yet to see the episode, stop reading now and come back to us when you’re ready. Spoilers ahead.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, so Doyle getting shot in the head as he stood over Raylan and Mags poisoning herself — amazing.
WALTON GOGGINS: What about Ava [getting shot by Dickie]? It broke Boyd’s heart, didn’t it?
It did. And here’s the thing I can’t believe: How did Boyd get through that hour without firing a gun once? Did that surprise you, too?
Yeah, it did surprise me. While Boyd is not as trigger happy as he once was, I thought there would be some sort of retribution based on everything that’s happened. And I think it was a brilliant move by [executive producer] Graham Yost and the rest of the writers not to have Boyd go down that road, but rather to see this on-again-off-again criminal be [a victim of] love, and have that as a motivation for his ire. It’s a guy who’s really uncomfortable, much like Raylan, showing any real emotion. And fortunately/unfortunately, he’s experiencing a real emotion and that emotion is love. He doesn’t quite know what to do with that. It just left that whole question open of what happens to her? What happens to them? What happens to Boyd going forward? In addition to all the other periods and question marks for the show, man. [Laughs] I can’t wait to see it. I can’t wait to read it. I can’t wait to say it.
Have you talked to Graham about how Boyd will start season 3?
We’ve had long discussions about it and what that might look like. And thank god we’re gonna get an opportunity to find out what happens. You never know in television, really. I would say that messing with Boyd Crowder is a bad thing, messing with a woman that Boyd Crowder loves is a worse thing.
Who’s left for him to retaliate against? Doyle and Mags are dead. Dickie’s in custody.
You know, I’ll wait till next season to answer that. [Laughs]
Have we seen the last of Dickie?
I don’t think you’ve seen the last of Dickie. I’ll give you that.
What would you like to see Boyd do in season 3?
I would like to see him continue to walk the line between a person that on paper you’re not supposed to like but a person when viewed is someone that you have great empathy for. I hope that we continue to explore the relationship between Boyd and Raylan and why these men have become the men that they’ve become. And I hope I get to lay naked next to Joelle Carter [Ava] again. [Laughs] I hope I have one more bed scene. I didn’t eat for a week before that scene in an effort to kind of show my six pack, so I’m hoping my starvation pays off in season 3.
There is something about Boyd’s chivalrous nature with Ava that keeps him likable. Is that important to you?
I think the season for Boyd was about asking for forgiveness and not really receiving that. It was a matter of Boyd coming to terms with who he is the way that Raylan had to come to terms with who he really is, and the way Mags had to come to terms with who she really is. At the end of the day, I think it’s a season about honesty. Whether you like them or you don’t like them, at least the viewers of the show can celebrate that.
Let’s talk about the scene in the finale with Raylan hanging in the tree. When it started, I planned on asking you if you wished you were there that day to watch Timothy Olyphant shoot it, but then, Boyd stepped out.
When I walked up to rehearse that scene, they were still filming the scene prior and Tim was in a tree. [Laughs] And I said, “You did it? You really did it? You’re hangin’ upside down. I could do anything I want to you right now. What can’t I do to you right now? You are rendered incapacitated.” We had a good laugh, and then we got down to business. These men have saved each other’s lives and spared each other’s lives more than a time or two, and I think that speaks to the truly three-dimensional dynamic in their relationship, and I think that their friendship is as complicated and nuanced and as special as any friendship that I’ve had in my own personal life. I guess that’s why I keep coming back for more.
I just love that when we thought Raylan was absolutely on his own, Boyd ended up inadvertently having his back.
We didn’t want to repeat last year where they had a current common enemy and they teamed up together to beat the bad guys. I think it really smart for Graham to do things differently. So while they’re on the same side of the fence, Boyd’s always straddling both sides of that fence.
Why did Boyd let Raylan take Dickie?
I think it came down to you’re asking me for this, and as hard as it is for me to let you have it, it’s something that you need. I think Boyd, if he’s anything, is an observer of human behavior and he’s a quick study of people and what they need. I think that he sees that Raylan needs this in some ways more than he does. But that request doesn’t come without strings. And that favor that Boyd grants Raylan will have repercussions ongoing.
Do you think it ever crossed Boyd’s mind to go with Raylan to the Bennetts for that final scene?
I think he was probably in the woods, we just never cut to him. [Laughs] I’d bet money Boyd Crowder was in the background, and we just never cut to him.
How sad were you to see Margo Martindale (Mags) go?
Oh, I’m so sad to see her go. I’m so sad to see all of these people go because you know, I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve been very fortunate to be in television a long time, and I never thought that I would land in a situation where I cared as much about the character, or about the show, or about the creators of that show, or about the cast on that show as I did The Shield. They’re my family. The Shield, at the end of the day, was the woman that I will forever be dating. But now I have two great loves in my life, The Shield and Justified. I’m both humbled and grateful to be counted among what I consider to be a very talented group of people from the executives down to the guy running the craft service. Everybody is there in service of the story, and I’m grateful to be a part of that.
Graham had told us that for Mags’ whoop-de-doo earlier in the season, the prop department actually built a working still, but that it only produced a couple drops of moonshine.
That’s all you need is a couple of drops. One person drinks it, then everybody french kisses that person, and we’re all havin’ a good time.
But I love that authenticity. That’s what makes the show special — you can feel how committed to the story everyone is, and you can feel that chemistry between the actors.
Everyone tries really hard to be authentic. From the writers, to the actors, to the directors, so many feel the way that I do that we are honoring Elmore Leonard. We’re not looking down upon the people that we’re playing, but we’re eye-to-eye with them, and we’re trying to find their humanity the way that people in real life just try to find their humanity.
Hearing you say that makes me feel guilty for being slightly surprised that people in Harlan were throwing around the word “parley.”
You know Boyd is known for fancy words. Parley would be a sub par word in his lexicon. [Laughs] People in the South know how to spell. They know big words, believe it or not.
Last question: I remember thinking at the end of season 1, there’s no way the writers can top the Crowders. And then season 2 gave us the Bennetts. Have you heard whether we’ll be meeting a new clan in season 3?
I think that the people on the show would be loath to repeat themselves now. So I don’t know the answer to that question. But there are more than three last names in Harlan County, so you never know.