'Justified' EP Graham Yost dissects 'The Man Behind the Curtain' in weekly postmortem

Justified

Image Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

SPOILER ALERT! This week’s episode of Justified, “The Man Behind the Curtain” written by Ryan Farley and directed by Peter Werner, found Quarles (Neal McDonough) and Boyd (Walton Goggins) backing opposing candidates for Harlan sheriff, and Quarles and Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) trying to out maneuver one another with the arrival of Sammy Tonin (Max Perlich), the son of Quarles’ boss. Since the episode ended with Quarles finding Gary (William Ragsdale), we’ll give him the edge — for now. 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: Raylan is now living above a bar. 
GRAHAM YOST: It’s in Elmore Leonard’s new book. He had Raylan living above a college bar and doing bouncer work but not really being a bouncer. It’s more that it’s nice to have a marshal living above the bar.

Will we see him hanging out in the bar more?
The bar is big in episodes 7, 8, and 9, and really big in 10, and in 11 as well. Part of it is we need a place for Raylan to be where he can talk to people. That was one of the limiting things, frankly, about the motel. You’re not gonna hang out in the motel. So this gives us a little more freedom to do bigger scenes with more people. And it’s the economy of this business, particularly basic cable: We need days on the stage. When you’re doing a show about marshals, it’s tough to have them in the office too much. It’s tough to get more than a day of the shooting schedule in the marshals’ set.

Quarles tried to bribe Raylan at the bar, and we found out that Quarles was exiled from Detroit for beating up male hustlers. What’s the backstory there?
You will find out in episode 10.

After failing to bribe Raylan, Quarles managed to get Sheriff Tillman Napier (David Andrews) in his pocket. What was the impetus to introduce that character to the story?
You’ll see in episode 8 where we’re going with Napier. We were interested, in this political season, in doing some sort of politics. You can read interesting stories in Tennessee or Kentucky or any part of the country where there could be pretty wild-ass shenanigans going on. We’d heard about one contest where there was a car blown up, or an attempt to blow up a car, and bribery, and shots fired. That became our inspiration. We just liked the idea of this guy who was cruising toward a victory, and in comes someone who gives him a bucketful of cash. It’s that temptation, and he crosses a line. I think I’ve spoken to you many times about how one of the themes of the season is crossing a line. So when Napier doesn’t push that briefcase back across the desk, he has now crossed a line. And he will suffer for that. We were just so lucky to get David Andrews to play the part. So now we’ve got Quarles backing Napier, and Boyd is gonna run Shelby [Jim Beaver].

Let’s talk about Quarles’ line to Duffy when he learned that Sammy Tonin was coming to town: “I’m just gonna put a smile on my face and eat a nice plate of steaming s— unsalted.” Such a great line, and such a great delivery by Neal. Is there a story there?
My dad did a show [Saturday Night at the Movies] in Canada for 25 years, all about movies. Part of it was, every year he’d go to Hollywood and interview whoever he could get that was somehow related to the movies he was gonna show that year. One year, he interviewed Richard Brooks, who was a great old Hollywood director and a noted tough guy. My dad did this whole interview with him, and after it was over and they’re taking off the mics and heading out, Brooks said, “You know the hardest thing working in this business, Elwy?” My dad said, “What?” He said, “It’s all this s— you have to eat unsalted.” That line just stuck with me, and so when we had that opportunity, we decided to put it in. We see this very well-dressed quasi-psychopathic killer in Quarles who’s got a lot of charm, and he’s got a gun up his sleeve and all of that. But like any of us, he’s caught in an organization and it’s not easy for him. He screwed up, but he’s got to report to someone he just doesn’t respect. It’s the son of the guy, and Quarles should have that job, by God, but he doesn’t have it. [UPDATE: Find out when Sammy's father, Theo Tonin, will make an appearance -- and who's playing him.]

Another memorable moment was Raylan beating up Johnny (David Meunier), kicking his wheelchair out the door, and sending him face first into the floor.
[Laughs] I swear to god Tim came up with that the day before we were gonna shoot the scene. Can we do it? It’s like, “Okay, do we want to spend the money to get Johnny in the episode? Is David available? Can we get him in?” And then it evolved into a bit, the idea of him reaching for the gun, and smack, and then for the baseball bat, and smack, and then just push him and roll him out. So it became a very funny cool thing.

Going back to where the episode began — Arlo calling out for Frances in Noble’s Holler — that reminded us that Limehouse is decent. No one knocked out Arlo until they had to, because he drew his gun.
As you say, it shows Limehouse is a principled man. He’s got a history with Arlo, and he did beat the crap out of him 20 years before, but in this instance, it’s not necessary. He’s an old man who’s calling for a woman who’s been dead for a long time.

Raylan made it sound to Boyd like he isn’t concerned about Arlo. I know they have their own history of drawing weapons on each other, but it was still tough to watch a son seem unphased by his dad losing it.
Here we get into what we always get into when we have these phone calls [laughs], which is just pay attention. I will say that this season has, as an undercurrent, stuff about Raylan and Arlo, and we’ll see where that goes in the last episodes. It will have surprising impacts on his life.

So Limehouse told Tanner to tell Quarles that hitting Boyd’s Oxy clinic was Tanner’s idea of getting back at the Crowders, and to keep working for Quarles so he could tell Limehouse what Quarles is up to: This does not sound like a plan that ends well for Tanner.
You will see in episode 9 what happens to Tanner. Tanner’s a bit of a lightning rod. He’s a magnet for pain and suffering.

Speaking of pain and suffering, the hour ended with Quarles and Duffy finding Gary. What can you tease about next week’s episode?
Gary is in trouble. Raylan said to him last season, “Gary, if I was you, I’d get out of the country, but that’s your choice.” And Gary didn’t make that choice. That has come back to haunt him. Duffy has tracked him down, and that will not be good for Gary. As much as we love Billy Ragsdale and I think Gary is this wonderful character — this weird sort of endearing, earnest weasel — let us not forget that he actually contracted to have Winona and Raylan killed last season. That ultimately, in the universe of a show like this, cannot go unpunished.

Read more:
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost dissects ‘When the Guns Come Out’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘Thick as Mud’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost dissects ‘The Devil You Know’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost dissects ‘Harlan Roulette’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘Cut Ties’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost dissects season 3 premiere

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