'Justified' postmortem: EP Graham Yost talks 'Peace of Mind' (and next week's season finale)

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Is there a story behind Raylan and Art’s Julia Roberts conversation when they’re talking about whether they should go get Ellen May?
No, that’s just Tim and Nick [Searcy], with Taylor and Leonard, just kind of riffing. We liked it because Elmore [Leonard] does it all the time. In Out of Sight, when George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, or Jack Foley and Karen Sisco, are in the trunk, they talk about movies. We don’t want to do it too much, but that’s a very Elmore Leonard thing. Just like in episode 11, there’s a reference to The Wild Bunch, and in episode 13 [the season finale], there’s a reference to one of Elmore’s favorite books/movies that sort of got him started on this whole crime fiction thing.

Because Limehouse wouldn’t deal with Johnny, Nicky decided to give Boyd the money to buy Ellen May and offered Boyd his cousin Johnny in return. Tell me about the meet at Johnny’s bar.
Various version on that. I mean at one point, it was Nicky going to Audrey’s because we needed to set up something else, and he was going to take Johnny. But then it was like, no, let’s have it at the bar. Then, where are these characters now: Boyd going into that situation is going to come in with guns out, and the bad guys are gonna have their guns out, and then we just needed to settle everything down quickly.

Did you always know that Ava would suggest she go to Noble’s alone to make the deal with Limehouse?
No, we had longer versions of the script, and we needed to pare it down. We had versions where Boyd and Nicky go and try to make the attempt and Ava’s already been there. It just sort of boiled down to this, and there was a logic to it that was pretty solid, so it seemed pretty simple for Ava to go make the pitch.

Boyd’s grin and line “Well, what are we drinkin’?” — was that scripted or something from Walton?
I don’t think that was scripted.

And Nicky referring to Limehouse as “Lemonhead?”
Mike did a run, he did like five different versions.

When the Marshals went to Noble’s, you had Limehouse and Rachel go at it.
Just working off the history, where they had a nice exchange in season 3. In a way, it almost harkens back to season 1, when Rachel had an exchange with Clarence Williams III [who guested as Mr. Jones] in the episode when they were looking for Rawley Pike [Alan Ruck], the dentist fugitive. It’s that thing of oh, so you think you can talk to me because you’re African-American and I’m African-American, when in fact, you’re working with “the man” and you are every bit as much involved in screwing me over as any of these other people. And her response is, kind of, “Absolutely, that’s my job.” So we liked that interplay. They’re fun together.

The Tim-Rachel-Raylan scene where they’re talking about whether to search Noble’s: Loved when Tim agreed with Raylan that it had to happen because Limehouse had been rude to Rachel.
It’s something that got played with. It’s one of those scenes that’s just a little bit of business that has to be accomplished for the story, which is, “We’re going in this direction, and you’re staying here,” because we needed to separate Gutterson from Raylan and Rachel so that Gutterson could go on his own to track down Ellen May and then run into Colt. It was as simple as that. So we needed a logic for it, and it made sense. And then we just try to make it fun.

You mentioned in episode 10’s postmortem that you were going to have Limehouse be more judgmental of Ava’s dark side then, but decided to save that scene for 12.
In 10, when she said “How much for the both of them?”, there had been a scene right before the exchange when Limehouse is talking to Ava about, “What the hell has happened to you?” and Ava’s saying, “Your hands aren’t any cleaner than mine.” We just didn’t need it in 10, because we knew we were doing this in 12. We thought it was better to concentrate it in one scene than to play it out over two episodes. Similarly in 10, there had been a scene between Limehouse and Ellen May that we shot where she’s sort of saying, “Well, what are you gonna do with me?” and we thought, you know what, we’re gonna do that in 12, so let’s pull that scene.

When Limehouse let Ellen May go, she went to Nicky Cush’s. I was expecting a conspiracy theorist to have a panic room.
We had played with that. That was a set we built, so we had certain limitations on what we could do. Man, we went back and forth, we had versions where Nicky imprisoned them in a locked bedroom and all this stuff, and it just became too convoluted. We had Raylan coming to the scene at some point. It was just, you know what, we don’t need that, let’s keep Raylan and Boyd apart. We always have to deal with the underlying Marshal logic, which is any of the stuff that’s going down, if Raylan runs into Boyd, he has the right to arrest him just for being anywhere near it. Then we just came up with this odd little showdown.

There’s a reference to the North Hollywood Shootout.
If you do a Google search on North Hollywood Shootout, you’ll see footage. These two guys were heavily armored and heavily armed, and it took the cops a long time to take them down. The debate was what do you do in this situation, and one of things that someone posited is, you shoot for the head, because their heads aren’t armored, and also the feet, because it’s very hard to armor feet. So that was the explanation.

Could we see Cush again?
We could. He lives.

Meanwhile, Raylan came to Johnny’s bar and got past Jimmy rather swiftly.
I think that there had been more dialogue with Jimmy, and it was just funnier to go faster. It’s also just fun the way he grabs the gun and gives it to Rachel. It’s just bing, bang, boom, and stepping up the competence again of Raylan.

After Raylan was a dick to Jimmy, and heard that Ellen May was at the church when Boyd called him, Raylan headed off and told Rachel to decide what to do with Johnny. What was her decision?
You will find it out by the fact that no one talks about it. We are leading the audience to believe that she let him go.

NEXT: The original sin


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