'Justified' season finale postmortem: EP Graham Yost talks 'Ghosts' (and looks ahead to season 5)

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jst_413_Ghosts_0020Looking ahead, will we have a time jump between seasons?
We’ve gone back and forth on that. So I can’t say for sure.

What can you say about Raylan in season 5?
Well, the big thing is we’re still not sure if he’ll have a haircut, so.

I vote yes.
A lot of people want him to trim that stuff up. We’ll see… He’s risen up in the Marshals service. He managed to get out of this apparently no-win situation and pull a win, so he’s doing well in that regard. But Winona’s farther away from him than ever. The child in all likelihood will be born. And there will be more bad guys coming along, and then how does it involve Boyd, and what brings the two of them together or pushes them apart.

And where is Winona’s mother, with whom Winona will live now?
At one point it was scripted that she was in California, another point we were thinking maybe Florida. We haven’t decided yet. One thing that did give me a momentary freak-out is that early on in the first season we hear that Winona, who had vowed she would never come back to Kentucky, came back when her mother took ill. But we never actually heard that her mother died. So it’s like, thank god. Because we’d just all forgotten it. In our world, her mother got better and moved out-of-state.

Ava will start the season in jail, and Boyd will be trying to get her out. Is Mooney the new sheriff now?
Mooney will be the new sheriff now, we’re thinking. That’s not entirely certain. I ran into the actor William Gregory Lee, and also Sam Anderson [who plays Lee Paxton], at the wrap party, and they both said a version of, “Well… I’m glad I survived the season, but given what I’ve done to Boyd, I don’t know how much longer this character’s gonna be alive.” So we’ll see.

Are we going to see a more vicious Boyd because of this?
I don’t think it would ever be just one thing. It’s a big enough story that we can see different shades and different colors of Boyd.

What about the format? Are you thinking another mystery? A return to the Big Bad?
We probably wouldn’t want to go straight into another mystery season. But that doesn’t mean a mystery couldn’t be a part of a season. Will it be a Big Bad? Maybe. There will be antagonists, I’ll tell you that.

Spoiler alert!
But for all the talk about this not being a season with a Big Bad, Nicky Augustine emerged as a Big Bad, he just wasn’t there from the beginning, so it wasn’t like introducing Mags in the first episode of season 2 and then paying that off at the end.

You mention season 2, which is what fans typically reference when they talk about the series at its best. But by the time the episode “Decoy” rolled around this season, that changed and everyone started saying season 4 is arguably its finest. Did you anticipate that going into it?
Oh god, no. Because we were trying something a little different, we were just hoping that it would be as good as the other ones. That was our goal. I don’t know if it’s the best. It’s interesting, once you start poking around in that, you see people like, “Oh no, season 3 is the best.” I’m like, “Really?” I mean, I liked it. And frankly, they’re all our children, so when people say, “Oh, I really liked season 2 more than season 1,” it’s like, “Thank you, I’m glad you like my son more than my daughter.” They’re all things that we labor hard on. For us, it’s honestly more like, “Wow, I loved that scene.” “That scene is one of our favorite scenes.” “That moment.” “That episode.” “That arc.” In terms of one season being better than the other, it happens. I think in retrospect, when we’re all done with this series, we can look back and say, “Oh, a little bit of a misstep there,” or “We hit our stride there.” But we had no expectation that people would like this as much as they have. For us, it was on an episode by episode basis: Is this working? Is this fun? And while some people have felt that the opening of the season, the first four episodes, were a little flat, I don’t see it that way. Two of my favorite episodes of the season are in the first four: The second episode, where we see the Truth family, and episode four, where Raylan is trying to track down Lindsey and Randall and get his money back and gets the chickens instead. Those are episodes that we’re really proud of. But we did get into a run between five, six, seven, eight, and nine that we felt good about.

Last question: What’s the likelihood of us seeing Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) again next season?
We have had some thoughts about Dewey, and we’ll just see if that pans out. We were terrified of overusing Dewey. But I think we could use him more for one season, perhaps. We’ll see. We just love having Damon around. It’s one of the most fun characters in the show. So we are always looking for something.

P.S. A special hello to Walton Goggins, who tells us he reads these postmortems each week. ‘Til January 2014…

Read more:
This season’s ‘Justified’ postmortems
‘Justified': Joelle Carter takes the EW Pop Culture Personality Test

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