'Justified' EP Graham Yost dissects 'Measures' in weekly postmortem

Justified

Image Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

SPOILER ALERT! In this week’s episode of Justified, “Measures,” written by Benjamin Cavell and directed by John Dahl, Dickie’s search for Mags’ money resumed. Errol (Demetrius Grosse) told Dickie (Jeremy Davies) he’d tell him where Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) hides the money for a share of it — but said they’ll have to get Boyd (Walton Goggins) involved to fetch it. That’ll be fun!

Meanwhile, the target on the back of Quarles (Neal McDonough) grew. Theo Tonin (Alan Arkin) sent hit men to Kentucky to off him, but Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Art (Nick Searcy) stopped them because they assumed Raylan was the mark. Napier (David Andrews) obliged when Quarles asked him to suggest a dealer under Boyd’s protection that he could rob, but Napier also happily suggested that Quarles take those stolen drugs to Audrey’s to exchange them for cash. (Having Boyd threaten to put a letter opener up your nose will make a man cooperative.) Last we saw Quarles, Boyd had tasered him in one of the whores’ trailers. Instead of killing him immediately for the $100,000 price on his head, Boyd plans to keep Quarles kicking so he can collect the $200,000 Theo’s offering if Quarles is delivered alive. Something tells us Boyd should have listened to Duffy (Jere Burns), who wants to step up when Quarles is gone, and gotten right to it: “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” As we’ll be doing each week throughout the season, we asked executive producer Graham Yost to take us inside the writers’ room.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with the idea that Raylan would think Tonin’s men were there for him.
GRAHAM YOST: We sorta went back and forth on that. This episode took a lot of last-minute rethinking, especially in terms of Raylan’s story. At one point, in an outline or a draft that no one saw, the Raylan story wrapped up way too early. I said, “Well, he’s the star of our show, and we’re kinda done with the story by the end of Act II, so that’s not gonna work.” So we had to restructure it. For one brief period of time, those two guys came down under the guise of being cops from Detroit also looking for Quarles, and Raylan figures out that even if they’re cops, they’re on Theo Tonin’s payroll. We played with that for awhile, and then went back to the thugs. It was Tim’s idea to have a misdirect, where we think they’re there for one reason, to get Raylan or backup Quarles, and we find out they’re there for another, to kill Quarles. That caused a certain amount of consternation with the network because I think the audience figures that out long before Raylan and Art do. But maybe you didn’t. That was a concern, but we went with it anyway. The thing is, on our show, Raylan does not have to be perfect. He doesn’t have to always be in front of the story, he can sometimes be a little bit behind.

That story gave us some quality Raylan-Art time, which is always enjoyable.
That was also Tim’s idea. He said, “Let’s have Art go along with him.” Listen, Tim and Nick love playing together. Any chance we have to get them out and get them working together is always fun.

Art gave Raylan some fatherly advice about staying alive so his child can meet him, and there was a running joke about Art being afraid he himself was going to get shot. That’s not foreshadowing, right? We don’t need to be worried about Art?
Just keep watching. [Pauses] No, that would be mean of me because it’s not foreshadowing it’s just me trying to jerk your chain. No, if anything, it sorta reflects back to the season’s second episode, which was Art out in the field. But, you know, if you’ve not been out in the field that much, it can be a little tense, I imagine, especially when there could be people coming to kill one of your guys.

Where did the idea that Theo Tonin carries around a human ear that he talks into to scare people come from? Genius.
I can’t remember. I think it was originally Cavell’s for this script. This is a big thing: We shot episode 12 [which airs next week] first, and then we shot 11, because 12 was farther along in the writing process. In 12, Wynn Duffy repeats the ear story to Boyd. I had the question: Do we keep it in both? Yeah, let’s just use it in both.

What does he say? Have the writers ever talked about that?
No, it doesn’t really matter. I mean, he would just say, “I’m sure this guy better shape up, or I’m gonna kill him.”

Why did you have Tonin on vacation and not in Detroit?
Why do you think?

So you could show that girl in the bikini?
No, not the girl in the bikini, although that was a nice bonus. We shoot the show in California! We’ve done a lot of interiors this year because we built Boyd’s bar, we built the bar for Raylan. It’s important to get outside. It’s tough, because our Harlan is a bit of a bear to get to. It takes an extra hour out of the day, going and coming. So if we can shoot a little exterior and say we’re in California, that’s fantastic.

Moving on, Quarles needed money, so he killed and robbed two drug dealers under Boyd’s protection. He shot the one guy, but what exactly did he do to the other?
It was kinda dark. Basically, he takes the scabbard of the sword and beats the other guy to death with it. I think the way Ben Cavell wrote it was even more disgusting than it actually ended up being. [Laughs] It was more like what Ryan Gosling does to the thug in the elevator in Drive. An effect like that is very expensive, so we just went with what we had.

Boyd then figured out it was Quarles who hit those dealers, and convinced Napier to send Quarles to Audrey’s.
One thing we wanted to do — and we only got to do it a little bit, so it’s one of my regrets about the episode — is the idea of Boyd having to solve a crime. Now he ends up solving it very quickly. He finds out from the neighbor lady that it was Quarles, and there, it’s done. But we just liked the idea of Boyd coming in and making these sort of CSI-y cop show-type observations. “He poured bleach on everything. See if there’s any household cleaners, ’cause if he brought it with him, he’s a pro.” We thought that would be fun to play the detective story line with Boyd in the driver’s seat.

Was that just a fun thing, or does it actually tell us what Boyd and Ava watch on TV?
It was just a fun thing. Though I think we assume everybody watches a little bit of TV at some point. It’d be hard not to see a show like that.

The references to Neal McDonough’s blond hair and blue eyes this episode were great: The line “He looks like he even s—s blond” and that neighbor referring to him as a husky.
There is a whole video that you could put together of people referring to Quarles by really strange things. You’ll see one in episode 12, where Duffy says something to the effect of “with his big baby head.” “Always be mean to Neal” is the standard thing.

Has Neal suggested any of those?
The husky thing is something that he’s mentioned in the past, to say that his mother mated with a husky.

Who did the whores think Quarles looked like?
Steve McQueen in Papillon. I think. Now, of course, Ben Cavell will say, “No, I was thinking of blah, blah, blah.” But that’s what I was thinking.

What was the idea behind Boyd using a Taser on Quarles?
We needed Quarles to be in Boyd’s company, and we just didn’t want to do the pistol whip across the head. We thought a Taser would be a smarter way to go.

And of course, Duffy warns Boyd that he really should just kill Quarles now.
Boyd wants more money. You get $200,000 if he’s alive and $100,000 if he’s dead. He’s willing to gamble, and he thinks he’s got it under control. We’ll see how that works out for him in 12.

Onto to Dickie… It was nice to see Tim (Jacob Pitts) and Rachel (Erica Tazel) get involved, tailing him and using Rodney (Mickey Jones) to get information.
We had actually toyed with something that maybe we’ll do someday where Rachel gets into a situation where she has to fight for her life. Outline to draft, it ended up becoming smaller and smaller until she’s just kicking a guy in the crotch. But it’s always fun to see them, and we owe them more than we give them, there’s no question. We’ll try to make up for that next year.

What cell company does Rodney use? He gets great reception in rural Kentucky.
Harlan has incredible coverage of all plans. It’s something we found out in our research. I’m totally lying. I could say that we could turn right around in the following episode and have someone up a holler and be unable to get cell service. Which is actually more of the reality. Talking to troopers down there, they’ll go up so far and they’ll cell phone, and they’ll go up even further, and they’ll lose the radio. Then they’re really kinda own their own. But we’re doing a TV show.

When Dickie went to see Ellen May (Abby Miller) to find out where she’s heard Limehouse keeps the money, she told him she wants to be Queen if he ends up King. That made me nervous for her — but it was also kind of sweet. Am I allowed to feel that way?
Yeah, be feeling that way. That’s the evolution of Ellen May. Abby did one big scene for us last year, and we all just loved it, and so, if we got a scene with a hooker, let it be Ellen May. I would say that there’s more to be played out there with her story and the story of Ava taking over the bordello, and you will see that in the last episode.

Is Errol really teaming up with Dickie?
We want viewers to not know. I think it tracks with Errol’s character. He’s the one who started this whole thing of Noble’s Holler being involved in the war between Boyd and Quarles. We can imagine that he would want to step out. His whole argument has been “Times have changed.” It’s Limehouse who says, “Times have not changed as much as you think. We’re safe here. Let’s stay here.” That struggle between the generations, of the new generation saying “This is what we should do,” plays out even to a degree with Quarles and Tonin. Quarles coming to Kentucky was his bold move, and… it’s had its problems.

My mouth dropped when Errol said they’d need to work with Boyd.
That amount of money being in the wind is something that would cause enemies to get in cahoots. Getting Dickie out of prison, we knew we wanted to do that. We knew that he was gonna play a part in the whole conclusion of the season. We just thought, Well, let’s be bold. What would happen if he went to Boyd and said, “Let’s do this job together?”

Find out next week…

Read more:
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘Guy Walks Into a Bar’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘Loose Ends’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘Watching the Detectives’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘The Man Behind the Curtain’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘When the Guns Come Out’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘Thick as Mud’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘The Devil You Know’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘Harlan Roulette’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘Cut Ties’
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks the season 3 premiere

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