'Justified' postmortem: EP Graham Yost dissects 'The Kids Aren't All Right'

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Image Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched this week’s episode of Justified, “The Kids Aren’t All Right” (written by Dave Andron and directed by Bill Johnson), stop reading now. As he’ll do throughout the season, executive producer Graham Yost takes us inside the writers room.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with the Harris brothers — The Wire‘s Wood Harris and Awake‘s Steve Harris – guesting as members of Hot Rod’s crew, who wind up tangling with Loretta (Kaitlyn Dever) and her boyfriend after they stiff Hot Rod (Mickey Jones) on a weed deal. Loved them, but I’m assuming we won’t be seeing them again?

GRAHAM YOST: You know what, you’d be making a mistake there. That’s all I’m gonna say. You’ll see them again. We all have been fans for quite some time, and there was interest from them to be on the show, and we just came up with this idea and it fit nicely.

Their SEAL Team Six scene was a memorable entrance.

That scene was added later on. We didn’t have enough to establish Hot Rod as a real violent threat. When Raylan ends up with the big showdown later, we wanted to make sure that the audience thought, “Well, this could really go badly.” So Andron just wrote the scene, they shot it, and there it is.

That showdown scene was, to me, quintessential Justified: Calm, cool Raylan casually talking to the bad guys waiting for Hot Rod to arrive. Raylan offering Hot Rod a deal. Hot Rod joking and then threatening Raylan. Raylan explaining why Hot Rod doesn’t want him to pull his weapon and revealing how growing up with Arlo helped make him the gunslinger he is today. Just perfect.

It establishes history, that Hot Rod knew his father, and this is how far Raylan will go to protect this girl.

Will we see Loretta again?

That’s it for her this season, at least that’s the plan. It was simply, okay, what sort of parental relationship does Raylan have in his life? We immediately sparked to Loretta — the two of them together is always so good — and we could make it work with Kaityln’s Last Man Standing schedule.

Tell me about the character Charles Monroe (played by Xander Berkeley), the rich man whose home and Mercedes Raylan is now enjoying. He has a “maid,” Gloria (Gabrielle Dennis), which is a nod to an Elmore Leonard character.

In the book Raylan, there’s Pervis Crowe and his black maid Rita. There’s just a little bit of that sense that this is a woman who works for me, but I’m also having an affair with her. That felt Elmore-ish enough. We just liked the idea of a seized house that Raylan could stay in for a couple of episodes. And frankly, if the location was cheaper, he would probably have stayed there for the rest of the season, but it was just too expensive and too expensive to build.

It’s a nice place for him to take Allison Brander (Amy Smart), Loretta’s social worker. She has a Winona vibe that makes you believe Raylan would be attracted to her.

Look, there’s a certain template for these Elmore women, and Allison falls into that. But she is different. She is a little bit more like Winona in that she’s outside of the world — she’s not a cop and she’s not a criminal, and yet she knows both cops and criminals. She’s conversant with it, but she’s not of it. We like that idea of someone who can call Raylan on his s–t, without it being as fraught as it is with Winona or as deep. There is something undeniable between Raylan and Winona, and we’re seeing this [relationship with Allison] in its very beginning stages. She’s a big part of the season. We’re very lucky to get Amy.

What should we take away from Allison’s monologue about selling military equipment at trade shows when she was 17?

There’s been some questions about that, does that make her too much of a victim of male crappiness? It was a story that Andron had heard, so he used it. The big debate after that scene was, “God, Raylan’s drinking wine? We’ve never seen him drinking wine. What is this? Is this Sex and the City?”

I was surprised by that. They went through two bottles.

Well, that’s Raylan.

And it makes sense: He’s crashing at that guy’s place. That guy would have good wine. And Raylan would drink it just to screw with him.

Exactly.

We saw Ava grow increasingly frustrated with Boyd’s inability to get her out of jail. He asked her not to lose faith in him. It seems like we’re going to really see them struggle.

For a few episodes. And then we’ll talk.

Mara (Karolina Wydra) told Sheriff Mooney (William Gregory Lee) it was Boyd who’d attacked her husband, but when Mooney brought her to the bar to officially ID Boyd, she recanted.

Boyd didn’t kill her, and this is her gift back to Boyd — which is, I could ID you, but I’m not going to. So she very purposely did it so it would play out that way.

That stairwell scene between Boyd and Mara at the hospital was interesting. She’s blackmailing him for $300,000, so she can return to Latvia, and yet, there’s a bit of sexual tension.

You get a little bit of understanding of why Boyd didn’t kill her, which is she’s beautiful. There’s something very alluring about her, and Ava’s in jail, and Boyd is… he’s a man. The accent, the style, just the way she is — that’s incredibly intriguing.

The scene in which Mooney pulled over Mara was fairly upsetting.

It was just an idea to establish Mooney as a real bastard and a real threat.

Boyd’s problem with the heroin pipeline is ongoing. Wynn held a meeting of their dealers, and it didn’t go so well because Boyd was late.

We wanted to show exactly what Boyd brings to that [partnership] — that Wynn is not a people person in terms of managing people, and Boyd is because Boyd can be a preacher.

One of their dealers was approached by a junkie named “Candy,” who traded a candy-coated blowjob for information on when the heroin shipment is due. Are you expecting fans to recognize her? [Note: I won’t spoil it for readers, but if you want confirmation, click here.]

That’s something we have to be very careful with: We want the really devoted viewer to pick up on it, but other people, if they don’t, it doesn’t really matter.

We’ll find out next episode who’s hitting the shipments?

Yeah.

Lastly, we get to Dewey: He was at the start of a three-way when Messer (James Le Gros) — who we learned is skimming money from Audrey’s for Boyd — interrupted him to let him know that his cousin Darryl Crowe Jr. (Michael Rapaport) had arrived in Harlan. Dewey had the classic line, “Unless Hitler has risen from the grave and is in my whorehouse, go away right now, Messer.”

[Laughs] It’s just reminding us that he is Dewey Crowe.

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