'Justified' postmortem: EP Graham Yost dissects 'Starvation' (and teases the season finale)

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Darryl got brought in for questioning, but his lawyer threatened a harassment suit if Vasquez held him. I’m guessing Darryl’s awesome “get at him” to his lawyer wasn’t scripted?
That’s got to be Michael Rapaport. We brought back the lawyer [who'd represented Dewey] from the first episode of the season, because she was great. It just shows Darryl and Wendy are smart. They don’t get caught that easily. A little bit of that goes back to me reading City Primeval, one of Elmore [Leonard]‘s earliest and best crime fiction novels. There’s a bad guy in there who the good guy keeps setting traps for, and he just can’t get him. Again and again, the guy weasels out. So that was always an inspiration for Darryl Crowe. You think you got him, and then you don’t.

In the end, Raylan convinced Vasquez and Judge Reardon (played by Stephen Root) that their only option was to decide they’re going to try Kendal as an adult, which means for attempted murder of a federal officer, he’s facing 40 years to life. There’s a 50/50 chance it’ll work. That’s a huge gamble for Raylan, who thinks that kid is innocent.
It is. One of the fun things about that is the idea of having Judge Reardon, who we established in the first season is known as “The Hammer” for just throwing the book at anyone for a minor offense, say, “Yeah, that’s my reputation, and that means I don’t have to do that.” We liked the idea of him taking the contrary position in this, and also having Vasquez say, “I’m not really comfortable with it either, but it could be the only way.” So Raylan is really driving this thing, and it’s dangerous.

That brings us to the climactic scene between Raylan and Boyd. Since they didn’t get Darryl, Raylan isn’t tossing Boyd’s file, which is “thick with the names of the sufferin’ and the dead.” Boyd said he was willing to fill in missing details in Raylan’s file about the role he played in Nicky Augustine’s death. I gasped.
I’ll take credit for the “sufferin’” speech. We’re just banging away, all throwing ourselves at scenes. But the structure of it really came from Tim and Chris. In a first pass, we’d had Boyd bring up the whole notion of Nicky Augustine, and Raylan being complicit in his death, in the motorcoach scene earlier on when they’re first squeezing Boyd and Duffy. Tim thought it would be better in this scene if that came up because, as he put it, Raylan doesn’t have a win in the episode, really. He does convince Reardon to go along this dangerous path, but he doesn’t get Darryl because Dewey screws that up. And so the win of the episode for him is in the shot after Boyd has leveled this accusation: there’s Raylan, and then there’s Rachel and Tim in the background, and they back Raylan up. It comes back to Raylan’s whole thing of, “There’s us on this side of the law, and then it’s you on the other side of the law. We are a team, and you cannot break us.” That’s his win. Michael Pressman shot that in a great, subtle way.

Boyd finally got access to a phone and called Jimmy to warn him about the cartel, but they were already there with guns pointed at him. This episode taught me that I’ve grown to care about Mikey and Jimmy. When did you decide to off Jimmy?
He’s not dead. They didn’t shoot him.

Right. We didn’t see it, but he was crying so…
They’ve got guns pointed at him, but Jimmy is not dead at the end of episode 512. We’ll see him in the finale.

Let’s circle back and talk about Ava. Early in the episode, Raylan visited her in jail to ask her to pressure Boyd into getting him Darryl. When she said she couldn’t help because she’d broken up with Boyd — and that she wouldn’t anyway, unless he could get her out, which he can’t — Raylan threatened to have the guards look the other way when it came to Ava’s safety. That was tough to watch, especially considering their history. Was reaction to that move from Raylan a concern?
It was a concern, but it was a good concern. You can see over the course of the series that we’re not opposed to showing Raylan doing stuff that makes us wince a little bit. And Tim wholeheartedly embraces that and seeks it out, because that gives more color to his character. It goes back to the statement in the pilot — Winona saying, “You’re the angriest man I’ve ever known.” Raylan is capable of this stuff. It’s my take on it that Raylan is really kind of tortured by saying that to her, but he feels… [in dramatic movie trailer voice] justified. He’s doing it for a reason. He’s trying to not only get the guy he believes shot Art (one of the three people he cares about in this world the most), but also to get that kid [Kendal] out of jail. He’ll do anything he can. A big thing about that scene and the one later with Ava was that they were really things that Tim asked for. We had a different configuration that I can’t talk about too much because it’ll sort of tip off what happens in the next episode, but the whole notion of using Ava — going to her and asking for help, and her rebuffing, and then later on her wanting to help — existed in a different way, and not even with Raylan. But Tim said, “Let it be Raylan,” and it ended up giving us two wonderful scenes.

Between those scenes, Gretchen made a move against Ava and had Penny killed.
The actress, Danielle Panabaker, got a pilot, so we had to finish her out in episode 12. (Laughs) In the original draft, we actually had it flipped: It was Nikki [played by Heather Olt] that got killed, and it was Penny who said, “Oh, this is serious trouble.”

The murderer was caught, which made Ava look like a snitch.
That’s the unforgivable sin, from what I understand. I mean, I only did a couple of years in Kingston, outside of Toronto. But that’s what prompted her to call Raylan back in.

She practically begged Raylan to strike a deal, but he told her she was too late: Boyd had tried to play ball to save himself and had said nothing about her. That was also difficult to watch.
We talked about that a lot. Our argument would be that Boyd would say, “Well, wait a second. You broke up with me. You said you didn’t want to have anything more to do with me.” He’s just trying to stay alive. It’s just not what he was thinking about. But yeah, we wanted to make it complicated [between Boyd and Ava]. There is something a little heartbreaking to it, and you’ll see where that goes next episode… or where that goes [in dramatic movie trailer voice again] next season.

What else can you tease about the finale? You’ve said we’ll see Art again, and Katherine Hale, and that there’s a Winona sighting via Skype. Will we see Raylan and Boyd in a scene together?
You will not see Raylan and Boyd together in the finale. Boyd goes off on his own story. He tries to make contact with Raylan, and that leads to a certain surprise, but he has no words with Raylan directly. But you will see how the story coalesces ultimately around Raylan and Boyd at the end of the season, and then of course, at the end of the series.

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