'Justified' postmortem: EP Graham Yost talks series-changing moment

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Let’s talk about Wynn Duffy. This was the first time we’ve seen him frazzled, when he told Boyd that Theo Tonin was ready to scorch the Earth and sending someone to kill Drew Thompson — or them, if they didn’t find Drew. Is this the kind of Wynn we’ll continue to see?
You will see Wynn Duffy in the next couple of episodes, and Wynn makes a big choice by the end of 10. That’s all I’ll say.

This is the first time I’ve been concerned about losing Wynn Duffy. You guys love that character –
Hey, we loved Arlo, too.

I know. (Nervous whimper)
You know, given the nature of our relationship, once you get to the end of the season, you realize how many times I’ve just been totally screwing with you. But, it’s like, okay, you keep on pushing for spoilers, I’m gonna scare you about things you might not need to be scared about… Unless, maybe with Duffy you do need to be scared. I’m not sure. You’ll have to wait and find out. HA! HA!

Cruel.
I am.

Last week, you said how difficult it was for Walton Goggins to play the scene in which the Clover Hill guys gave him his orders to kill Frank Browning, because he just wanted Boyd to pull and kill them all. How was he doing the scenes in this episode in which Gerald Johns tells Boyd how to kill Frank, and Boyd’s plan to give Frank a chance to buy himself an out backfires?
He was fine with that because he’d read the end of the episode. He knew that Boyd was gonna figure out a way to get these guys. But, of course, as Ava says, the way he figures out how to get these guys just gets him deeper into debt with Tonin’s people.

Boyd gave Tonin two possible names for Drew Thompson, one of which was Frank. That scene when Tonin’s hired gun shows up at Frank’s house dressed as a cop — so great.
So the guy dressing as a cop, it just came out of the room. Hey, that’s fun. If you’ve got people who are maybe on edge, a cop can get through that. And, as it turns out, dressing as policemen is a good idea when you’re robbing diamonds from the Brussels airport, too. The guy shooting Deke in the back of the head and the blood going over Frank Browning’s face — that’s the way it was written, and John Dahl just says, “Great, let’s do that,” and it just becomes this weird, strangely funny, horrible scene. And we love to do that. That’s what we aim for — not all the time, but every now and again.

After Johnny tells Wynn that Boyd had just given him the names of two of his enemies to kill, Tonin’s killer comes to collect Boyd. I loved how Raylan showed up — and paused to comment on Ava’s engagement ring.
The idea of Raylan going to see Boyd and happening to intercept this and save his life, we just thought that would be cool.

And just to be clear, Boyd asked Nicky Augustine (Mike O’Malley) to make those calls and threaten the judges so the remaining Clover Hill guys would fear Boyd.
Exactly.

Are we gonna see more of Nicky Augustine?
Yeah. Mike O’Malley has some fun stuff coming — a little bit in 10, and then a big thing in 11, and beyond that I will not say.

Will you tease whether we’ll see Theo Tonin make the trip to Harlan this season?
I’m not gonna tease that.

Whose idea was it for Boyd to ask the Clover Hill guys for a Dairy Queen franchise in addition to money?
I think that was Walton’s — just the idea that owning fast food franchises is a way to make a good living, if you can buy in. It’s like putting a hotel on Park Place in Monopoly: If you can get that anchor property, you can build from that.

And that’s Boyd’s plan, to go legit?
Listen, it’s always the plan, right? It was the Corleone plan, it was Mags Bennett’s plan. It’s always the criminal plan. And especially when you’ve got guys like the Clover Hill guys, you realize that all of their origins are probably pretty tainted to, one way or the other.

Will we see the Clover Hill guys again?
You will see some of them.

The last we saw Shelby (Jim Beaver), he and the Marshals decided he’d keep an eye on them. So we should expect to see more of Shelby working with Raylan and the Marshals then?
Yeah, I think he’s earned Raylan’s trust at this point. And it’s just fun to have Jim Beaver around. And don’t forget, he’s got Ellen May.

Talk about that scene with Shelby and Ellen May: When they were talking about his ex and she was wearing her clothes, I was worried that Ellen May would make a move because sex is the only thing she has to offer and how she’s connected to people. Do I need to be worried about that?
We’ve always seen Shelby as a little bit like one of Elmore Leonard’s Western heroes. They’ve got a code. A lot of bad guys do in his crime fiction as well, but especially in the Westerns, there is a code and Shelby’s a bit of an old-school lawman in that way. He’s a red-blooded American male and would certainly think about it, but he would not presume to cross that line. That’s not why their situation is the way it is.

Let’s end on Colt (Ron Eldard): He goes to the dealer to get the money he needs to pay off whoever’s texting him about Ellen May (which we know is Johnny), and kills the dealer. It turns out Mark, Gutterson’s friend, is there and witnessed it, and rather than shoot him right away, Colt lets him think he was going to let him live. Whose idea was that last bit?
I think a big part of it was Ron pitching to me, “What if he sits down with him and says, ‘Let’s have a smoke.’” It was just kinda cool and an odd way for him to explain the situation — this is the jam I’m in. We are so blessed on this show with actors who care a great deal about what their characters do and why they do it, and will always be questioning us, running things by us, and coming up with ideas. There was a lot of work on that scene and talking to Ron about how that whole sequence would go — what Colt’s mindset was, what he was thinking, what he wanted. Why is he sticking around? Is he afraid of Boyd? Is he trying to live up to Boyd’s expectation? I think we ended up finding a good place for this, which is this is the last chance for Colt. Boyd didn’t know that he was getting a guy who was struggling with heroin addiction, didn’t know he was getting a guy who’s at the end of his rope. The work on that scene that Ben did with Ron was really, really strong. And a lot of it was on the day with John Dahl as well. It’s a wonderful scene….

We are blessed on this show with great writers and great directors. This is one of those episodes that we’re incredibly proud of. You might have noticed that it’s five minutes longer than most episodes, and FX said, “Fine.” They loved it, too. There was just something about everything coming together — the script that Ben wrote with Keith, John Dahl’s direction, Tim’s performance, everyone’s performances, they’re all incredibly strong.

So Johnny now knows with certainty that Colt failed to kill Ellen May. Does that come to a head soon?
I would say that next week is a big episode.

One final question: Is Arlo the last death of a character we know well and care about this season?
(Five seconds of silence) That’s my answer.

(Laughs) I was like, did he just hang up on me? But I don’t hear a dial tone.
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

I had to try.
And again, at the end of the season, we can have a recap about all the things that I screwed with you on.

Read more:
‘Justified’ postmortem: Raymond J. Barry talks Arlo’s exit
‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘Money Trap’ in weekly postmortem
More ‘Justified’ postmortems with Graham Yost
‘Justified’ postmortem: Joelle Carter talks Boyd’s proposal

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