'Justified' EP Graham Yost talks 'Thick as Mud' in weekly postmortem

JUSTIFIED

Image Credit: Adam Taylor/FX

SPOILER ALERT! This week’s episode of Justified, written by Jon Worley and Benjamin Cavell and directed by Adam Arkin, had a happy ending for Dewey (Damon Herriman) and an emotional twist for Raylan (Timothy Olyphant). As we’ll be doing each week throughout the season, we asked exec producer Graham Yost to take us inside the writers room. 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You let Dewey live!
Graham Yost: Yes, of course. That was your big concern last time we talked, wasn’t it?

It was. Was there ever any discussion of him not making it through this episode?
No. No. I gotta tell you, back in the first season, when Dewey had joined Boyd’s little Church of the Last Chance Salvation up in the woods and screwed up and risked Boyd’s wrath, in the first outline or pass, I had Boyd kill Dewey. Just the reaction at the studio and at the network was “Noooo, you can’t kill Dewey!” I wanted to re-cement that Boyd was a badass, and remind people that this is the same guy that killed the guy in the car in the pilot. But the uproar was such that it was loud and clear that Dewey must not die until Dewey absolutely has to die.

You mentioned last week that this kidney business was Elmore Leonard’s idea. It’s from his new book Raylan?
Yes. But we decided to put a spin on it, that they hadn’t actually taken out Dewey’s kidneys. Lance was just using it as a threat, thinking that Dewey wouldn’t be smart enough to figure out that his kidneys were still in his body. Then they would take them out and get double the money.

I was gonna ask you why Lance didn’t just take Dewey’s kidneys out to begin with.
He wasn’t skilled enough to do it. Layla was the transplant nurse, so she knew how to do it.

Being a fan of Psych, it was a nice surprise to see Maggie Lawson on the show. I wouldn’t have thought of her for Layla, but it worked. She is as cute as kittens.
[Fellow EP/writer] Fred Golan and I are big Psych fans. It’s one of the shows we’ll watch with our kids. I’ll watch with my son, and my daughter when she’s home. So when I saw Maggie on the audition reel, I just said, “Well, let’s get Maggie.”

So Raylan’s tub scene…
That’s in the book. It’s a different character, it’s not Lance. But she shoots him, and he falls on Raylan, and Raylan gets the gun from him and shoots through him into her. We roughly did that in this.

I thought Raylan was surprised that it actually worked — that his aim was that good even shooting through another body — but he was surprised that he’d shot a woman.
[Laughs] Even for Raylan, that’s got to be weird. That comes up in subsequent episodes, what it was like for him, how that has a little more of an echo than some of the other bad guys he’s dispatched. It’s also part of Elmore’s book and a thread we wanted to follow through on.

Why did we not meet Dr. Blowjob? I would have liked to have seen him.
You know what, he’s not in Elmore’s book. Layla just talks about him, and we thought that was enough. And you just sort of run out of time. I mean, Raylan could have got him and found out that he was a dead-end, which could have led back to Layla, but we just thought it would be faster to get through it this way.

I loved Timothy Olyphant’s hand motion when Raylan was trying to sign his nickname.
Yeah, that’s a fun scene, him and the other nurse.

Dewey trying to figure out where people use cash so he could buy back the kidneys he thought he was missing and ending up at the strip club — also fun.
We just thought that would be in Dewey’s world, that’s what he would think of. He wasn’t gonna go rob a bank. We just thought a strip club would be funny.

When he was taking the leak to prove whether or not he had his kidneys, we got a nice long look at Heineken and Amstel Light boxes. We’ve talked before about the failed KFC product placement in “Harlan Roulette.” Was that product placement or just excellent set dressing?
You know, I can’t imagine that a company would want their stuff associated with a man who may or may not have had his kidneys stolen by kidney thieves. I think that was just serendipitous.

It would be awesome of them if they did want to be in that scene.
Yes, that would be awesome of them if they did. But they didn’t. That I know of.

Dewey saying, “Holy s—, you mean I had four kidneys?” — brilliant.
You know what, that was a line that stuck early on in the room. I think someone said it at lunch, and food started to pass out of our noses. Somehow, someway, that line has got to get in.

Dewey is now headed back to prison. Dickie’s also there. Will we be seeing more of them together this season?
You will see Dickie again. Dewey, no, because Damon went back to Australia, where he lives, to do work there. We only get Damon every now and again, and we’ve just got to use our Dewey very judiciously. We don’t want to overuse Dewey. One big thing for Dewey each season. Last year, it was him pretending to be Raylan. This year, he’s running around without his kidneys.

Moving on to Limehouse and Mags’ money: How could people think that she would have amassed over $3 million?
You sell enough pot over 20 years, you would have that money.

Limehouse is lying about how much money is left. Why would he do that?
Follow the money. The money will play a key role in the later episodes in the season.

We saw that Limehouse was using the young woman Trixie (Valerie Brandy) as a spy to get information. What’s the idea there?
We might have done a trim in editing to get the episode to time, but the idea was that Trixie’s mother had taken refuge in Noble’s Holler back in the day, so she had a family connection.

Does Limehouse have a lot of spies out there?
This is part of Limehouse’s business, knowing what other people are doing.

Quarles’ meeting with Boyd: No one thinks to pat down his arms. We haven’t seen him use that gun in a while. Will he fire it again soon?
I will say this: The gun that went off in the first episode will go off several other times in the season.

Raylan told Art he’s thinking about another line of work. Is he at all serious about that?
I think Raylan is at the time. It’s a question that he’s gonna ask himself a lot, given the life he leads. And you saw the revelation at the end of the episode, he gets some information that throws his entire life upside down.

After Winona made a point of saying that she was done trying to change him and pretending she could love anyone else the way she loves him, that was a surprise. What should fans be thinking watching Raylan read that letter?
Holy crap, she’s gone. What’s going on? I better tune in next week to find out. That’s what I hope they’re thinking.

Reading the comments on our chats each week, it’s clear some fans have not warmed to Winona. What’s your take on that?
As much as we love Raylan, I think that Winona reminds us that being married to someone like that would have incredible costs. So it’s difficult to, at times, like the character who’s saying about your hero “You shouldn’t be doing this,” because we want him to keep on doing it, because that’s the reason we tune in every week. But we wanted to make sure that her point of view was clear and it had nothing to do with her love for him. You’ll see some more Winona in the season. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Read more:
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‘Justified’: EP Graham Yost dissects ‘Harlan Roulette’ in weekly postmortem
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