Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen this week’s episode of Justified, “Kin,” written by Fred Golan and VJ Boyd and directed by Peter Werner, stop reading now. Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd (Walton Goggins) came face-to-face for the first time this season in the hills while on the hunt for Drew Thompson, Theo Tonin’s associate Nick Augustine (Mike O’Malley) made his debut, and we learned that it’s Shelby (Jim Beaver) who’s hoping to use Ellen May (Abby Miller) to bring down Boyd. As he’ll do throughout the season, showrunner Graham Yost takes us inside the writers room.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So Arlo might actually get out of jail if he gives up Drew Thompson?
GRAHAM YOST: Yeah, I wouldn’t bet money on that. I will say that. We just liked the idea in episode 5 of kicking the Drew Thompson mystery up another notch. Raylan in episode 4 was dealing with Lindsey and Randall, and now he’s back on the job that he should be doing. And Boyd and Ava, having had their adventures with Preacher Billy and Cassie and the threat with Ellen May, as far as they know, they’re done with all that, and now they can focus on the hunt for Drew Thompson as well.
Tell me about Nick Augustine.
That was originally scripted for Theo Thonin, played by Adam Arkin, but it’s just really hard to get him, because he’s working [behind the scenes] on The Americans. We thought, you know what, why don’t we come up with his main lieutenant, and then we’ve got a character that we can use throughout the season. And when the idea of Mike O’Malley came up, it was, “Ohmygod, that’s fantastic.”
I liked that he and FBI Agent Barkley were old friends.
It just gave the scene more color, and it just allowed us to come in, in a way that wasn’t having everybody angry and concerned. There was a friendliness that then takes an ugly turn.
I also loved that Wynn (Jere Burns) didn’t even blink when Nick shot Barkley in the head in his Winnebago. The blood on the blinds.
[Laughs] The blood on the blinds. They played with that scene a lot: Fred and VJ, and then Tim [Olyphant] had some ideas for it, and then Jere and Mike.
I remember you telling me last year that Theo’s milky eye was something Adam suggested when he was cast. Now it’s in his backstory: Drew Thompson shot Theo in the eye when he left him on a runway in Panama and stole $2 million of cocaine.
It was just, “Okay, he did that. Let’s use that.”
Constable Bob returned this episode and found Roz, so Raylan could ask her who told her to retrieve the bag from Arlo’s wall. Was that just so you could have Patton Oswalt talk about getting offered a blowjob?
It wasn’t that specifically. We had so much fun with Patton in the first episode, and he had fun, and there was just a general agreement among all of us that it’d be great to keep going. So we wanted to reintroduce Bob. And Bob will play a critical role in the season, and that’s not something that we’d imagined when we first thought of Constable Bob. We thought pretty early on after Patton agreed to play the part, “Oh, maybe there could be this, maybe there could be that,” but that’s one of those things of just seeing where it goes and then following.
Gerald McRaney made his first appearance as Roz’s stepfather, Josiah.
It’s another Deadwood alum, there’s the fun of that. Just to get someone like Gerald on the show, we figured was a nice little coup. He was willing to play along. He basically worked one day on episode 5 and one day on episode 6.
Whose idea was it for Raylan to handcuff Josiah to his car and run him? So great.
That was all Tim’s. It was just the idea of dragging someone beyond their tether line. “Okay, you don’t want to tell me where Drew Thompson is? I’m gonna drag you down your tether line.” The reality is, he could tell the sheriff, “He dragged me beyond my tether line. It wasn’t my fault.” But we thought it was a fun scene.
The episode ends with Raylan discovering Josiah’s foot has been chopped off.
We originally were gonna have an episode in between there. Then Raylan was gonna get called back down to find Josiah, and we’d find the foot. Tim just kept on pushing: What if we flipped those episodes, so we go straight to the foot being chopped off. We just thought that was a fun way to end the episode. I think Tim improv’d a few lines. ["Well, my goodness"] just kinda tickled us all.
Josiah had told Raylan that Drew was still with the hill people.
We like the idea on Justified of finding out about these other isolated communities, based loosely on if not present-day fact, certainly historical fact. There are people of the backwoods called Melungeons. No one is entirely sure what their genetic line is, but they’re a very different kind of culture. So we were interested in that, but we didn’t want to make them specifically Melungeons. We just played with it: Well, what if there’s some history with Raylan’s family? What if Frances, his mother, was descended from the hill people? We shot the hill people stuff up in Frazier Park, which is a different area for us, to give it a different look.
Boyd was told the same information about Drew being there, and he and Raylan met for the first time this season when they’re taken hostage by the hill people. Seeing them crouched like that, and Boyd still having his sense of humor (“I don’t like your plan, Raylan”), reminded me of the season 1 finale.
Right. We weren’t trying to clone that, we were interested in the first time they set eyes upon each other this season being in a confined space where they weren’t allowed to leave, so they’ve got to talk. Because at this point in their relationship and the history of the show, it’s always the question of, what further do they have to say to each other, and why would they chat? Because Raylan’s so annoyed by him and Boyd’s kind of had it with Raylan’s bad treatment. So we thought it’d be nice to put them in the box, and then come out of the episode with the basic notion of “may the best man win.”
And Raylan handcuffing Boyd to the tree, whose idea was that?
That was Tim’s idea. I think initially we had the idea that they were gonna both come back to the cars and then split up, and it was like, no, let’s give Raylan a jump.
That fun bit about the book the character Tim (Jacob Pitts) is reading now, where did that come from?
That was Jacob’s idea. It’s the notion that often people with PTSD will regress. They’ll go to reading, and entertainment, or whatever that reminds them of a happier, simpler time, and also fantasy. So the idea that he’s reading books not unlike Harry Potter seemed right.
Before we leave the hill people, why is it that women tend to rule the families found in the world of Justified? You keep coming back to that notion in different, interesting ways.
I think it goes back to that idea that in an incredibly misogynistic, hard-and-fast gender-role society, you always get the sense that women are actually running things behind the scenes, or at least that’s the myth that we tell ourselves. And it’s true to an extent, because that will happen. Like in Winter’s Bone — which we all on Justified love, it’s a great movie — there is a degree to which even though the men rule, the women kinda run things.
NEXT: Boyd and Wynn Duffy broker a deal, and Ellen May is found