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

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The episode got some comic relief from Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman), who did some soul-searching cuddled with two prostitutes and gave away his prized possessions.

After they shot that, Chris Provenzano either called me or texted me and said it may be the high point of his career. (Laughs) That was just such a fun scene. It’s everything we expect from Damon and more. “It’s a turtle dog” — without even explaining it. Originally we were going to have an insert of someone holding the thing, so you could see it was a dog and a turtle together as if someone had crossbred them in their mind. But no, we don’t need that, let that be a Dewey thing: “It’s a turtle dog.”

We’ll see Dewey continuing to decide whether to stay or go next episode?

Yes, pretty early on. We wanted to toy with the idea of, is Dewey thinking of killing himself? Is it that bad? No. But we wanted to set up in this episode, just in that one scene, that he’s thinking of leaving.

Darryl is certainly making himself at home at Audrey’s redecorating. I rewound that scene where he was hanging the “Hang in there!” cat poster because I was sure it had to be hiding something in the wall, but no, he was really just hanging it to be decorative.

(Laughs) It’s something that Provenzano writes in the script, and the art department gets it, and it’s like, “Let’s just do it.” “Okay.”

Darryl got Wendy to come up to Harlan and take custody of Kendal. She’s supposed to take him back to Miami, but Darryl wants them to stay. They said for money, they can do “the old thing.” Any hint?

How are they gonna get a house, a place to live, is really the question at hand in episode 506.

Let’s talk about Danny’s scene with Kendal and Jean-Baptiste (Edi Gathegi). I did not see Jean-Baptiste’s death coming.

Nor did we. (Laughs) So the Danny-Kendal scene, we wanted to establish this thing that Danny’s got, the idea of the 21 foot rule. You can look it up online. The idea is supposedly that within 21 feet, a guy with a knife can beat a guy with a gun, if the gun is holstered. If the knifer takes the initiative and starts running as he’s pulling the knife, while the other guy’s trying to pull his gun, the knifer can win. That came up early in the writers room this past summer and was one of the things that we decided to give to Danny from the beginning of the season. Then we wanted to see him torment Kendal with it.

And the idea for Danny to shoot Jean-Baptiste?

Listen, we make our best efforts early on in the season as we hire actors to come on the show, and we can’t always guarantee them what they’re gonna be doing or where it’s gonna go. Getting Edi Gathegi was a big get for us, but the character just wasn’t panning out for him. He didn’t see where it was going, and even though we were thinking that Jean-Baptiste would survive until toward the end of the season, Edi wasn’t enjoying the journey. We had no contract to hold him to, so we said, “Well, let’s kill off Jean-Baptiste in episode 5.” We weren’t sure how we were gonna do it, and then we watched the scene between Jean-Baptiste and Danny, and it became clear that there was such animosity there, that man it could work. So the scene got adjusted to play it this way. What we then found from that, which you’ll see in subsequent episodes, is that it gave us a lot: It established Danny’s close to psycho pathology and his really bad judgment. And it also was something that happened in front of Kendal. Kendal’s known that he’s living in a crime family, but I don’t know what truly bad stuff he’s seen. You’ll see in subsequent episodes the effect that this has on him and really how that propels us to toward the end of the season.

Lastly, we get to Hot Rod (Mickey Jones) and Boyd. They met and first talked about Hot Rod’s history with Boyd’s late father, Bo.

Hot Rod talks about getting up on stage with Bo and playing music, and you get the sense that Hot Rod was a drummer. If you look up Mickey Jones, you’ll see he played with Bob Dylan, Johnny Rivers, and others. There’s also the line that Provenzano had: “You want me to move from the low-risk, high-reward weed business into the high-risk, high-mortality trade of black tar?” That was a really nice way of encapsulating the whole shift that has happened.

Boyd offered Hot Rod a 50 percent split if Hot Rod helped him smuggle heroin across the Mexican border and handed over Johnny. That card scene later on with Johnny, when Hot Rod had his three henchmen turn on him, played out nicely with Johnny then revealing that he’d used his take to buy the henchmen’s loyalty.

The twist and then the double twist. We always move back and forth: One of the big things that we were considering was having Boyd find out about that this episode, and we just felt like the news about Ava was enough. If he found out any further news, it would just feel like we were piling on. You always ask for a spoiler: Boyd figures this out in the next episode. That’s an exclusive.

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