'Justified' postmortem: EP Graham Yost dissects 'Shot All to Hell'

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Let’s talk about Elias Marcos, Theo Tonin’s consigliere and trigger man, played by Alan Tudyk.

You’ll notice he’s credited as Wray Nerely. It’s something that he’s doing, sort of like a documentary or something, about the life of an actor in a character or something. I didn’t spend time with him, so I don’t exactly know what the thing is. When Alan’s name came up — I’ve just always been a big fan. He tested for the part of Michael Raines that Jeff Goldblum got [in Yost’s 2007 NBC drama Raines].

Elias first appeared pressuring the Canadian drug lord played by Will Sasso for the information he’d told Art about Sammy’s death. Once he got Picker’s name out of him, he shot him.

It was originally scripted that Will Sasso’s character was coming out of a donut shop, and it was gonna be Tim Hortons. Tim Hortons had allowed us to mention them but didn’t want their signage used. They shot it in this industrial area. We’re in a drought here, so we’re getting almost no rain, but that night it was sorta drizzling, so it actually felt like Windsor more than it might have.

Elias and Art both ended up staking out a diner where Wynn and Mike were waiting for Picker. I loved how Art took a picture of Elias with his phone when he temporarily scared him off — it was just like Raylan had done the first time he met Quarles.

We look at that as a tool in our toolbox, the idea that you can just take photos of people now with your phone. It can be helpful. I think we might even be doing it once more this season.

That scene inside the diner was great — from Wynn asking if anyone minded if he ordered, to Art eventually telling Elias, who’d come in to ask Picker to go with him, that he’d give him 10 seconds to leave or he’d shoot him. (That’s also very Raylan).

We all break the stories together, but when we read Provenzano’s first draft of the script, we just said, “Well, there you go. We’ve got an episode.” That scene in particular, I don’t think it changed much from his very first draft. There might have been some trims, he might have done a little work on the set, but it was just a brilliantly written scene. We loved reading it, and it worked as well as we had hoped. It was just fun to give Art a real badass scene, and there’s great Wynn Duffy stuff. Picker’s great in it. Even Mike gets a line [in accent] “You got it, pops. Step outside, I’ll give you a clip.” We’re very proud of that scene.

Picker eventually gave Raylan the address of where to find Elias, after Raylan reminded him in private that the thing Picker holds over him — knowledge that Raylan arranged for one criminal (Sammy) to take out another (Nicky) — doesn’t exactly bode well for Picker.

That scene evolved a lot. It went several different directions. We knew what we wanted to get out of it, how to make it different from anything else we’ve seen between Raylan and Picker specifically. That took some work.

That shootout between Elias, Raylan, and Art was at an airport hangar?

It was supposed to be a shipping service, a courier company. There was a scene that we had shot where you see the guy who runs that company, and he’s obviously implicated in the whole thing, and the episode was just running long. We felt like we could just jump into it. It would’ve added a little more clarity. One thing that I threw in was, “Let’s make it special. Let’s give Elias an automatic shotgun,” which is a very bizarre weapon that can fire like a machine gun only it’s shooting out shotgun shells. It’s fun for Wray Nerely to have over his shoulder and plugging away.

After Raylan took out Elias, the Marshals found Theo Tonin (played by Adam Arkin) in a crate. Will we see him again?

We thought about it. We get to episode 11, there’s a point where we could have gone to him. There was issues on his availability, and then we just figured out a way to not do it. We’re kind of wrapping up the Theo Tonin story. We’re not thinking of going more to that and Detroit for the rest of the series, though we’ll see. We had ideas about seeing Theo several times last year, but Adam was off working on The Americans, so we couldn’t do that, and that’s why we came up with the character of Nicky Augustine, frankly. This time, there was this odd synchronicity: We’re thinking, “Okay, let’s see Theo Tonin in this episode,” and it’s like, “Well, Adam’s directing it. Great. He can direct himself.”

I enjoyed the celebration scene with Art, Raylan, and Vasquez, but as an audience, we’re conditioned: Once we see a lawman with retirement on the horizon toast to the pinnacle of his career, we start worrying that he’s going to die.

(Laughs) We always joke that a character’s gonna say, “Yeah, right after we do this big dangerous thing, I’m gonna go pick up my son at Tee Ball,” or “Tomorrow’s retirement, and my wife and I are gonna go off on my new sailboat and live forever,” and you know that something bad’s gonna happen. But we did want to give Art that moment, give Nick that moment.

Vasquez told Raylan and Art that Picker had said it was dirty FBI Agent Barkley on the tarmac the night Sammy killed Nicky. Raylan left the room, then turned around and told Art, “It wasn’t Barkley, and I can tell you that for a fact.”

This was a hard thing to work out, especially talking it through with our technical advisor, Charlie Almanza. Raylan can’t come right out and say, “I did it. I was there.” Because if he did that, then Art would have to investigate him, and Raylan could go to jail, and it would just bring an absolute catastrophe to the office. So that’s the only thing I’ll say about that: Raylan’s line was very carefully worded. And we always felt that Raylan knows that Art knows, and Art knows that Raylan knows, and he’s given Raylan a couple of instances where he could step up and tell him what’s going on, and Art wants to know and he doesn’t want to know, but Raylan feels he owes him this. Even though he understands that it’s gonna, in a way, sort of end their friendship.

NEXT: Dewey is light, Danny is dark


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