This week's "Justified" has to rank among the most action-packed of the season, if not the series. Executive producer and showrunner Graham Yost spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the violent developments and saying goodbye to a long-time character. Those who have yet to see the new episode, be sure to click that 'Back' button, because there are no doubt SPOILERS dead ahead!
Clearly, the biggest development this week was the unexpected death of Raylan's jailbird father Arlo. While the death at the hands of a prison hit gone awry came out of nowhere, Yost claims that plans have been in the works to off the disgruntled father figure for some time now. "We had some ideas that maybe Arlo would die at the end of season, but we’ve talked about that since season 2. This was something that came from Tim [Olyphant]. I think he shot the scene where he says to Arlo, 'You’re gonna die in prison' fairly early on when they were shooting 7 [last week's episode]. The scene had an effect on him. Tim always loves the idea of Raylan doing things and them having unintended consequences. So it’s like, Wow, he really did die in prison," Yost explained. "I think he was also really interested in the idea that this whole series so far, Raylan has said he doesn’t care about Arlo. What if you just a see a moment where he’s just like, Ohmygod, that’s my father and he’s dead. Not make a huge deal out of it, not make a dialogue thing out of it — he was just interested in this idea of him tearing up in the elevator, and then when they were shooting it, it became outside the elevator."
To his credit, actor Raymond J. Barry voiced little opposition to killing off of his character. "I called Ray, and I couldn’t reach him, and I left messages for him on his cell phone and at his home. He called back, and he knew, because I haven’t called him in four years of doing the show. So you know if you get a call from the showrunner, it’s probably not good news. And he was just an absolute prince about it, you know, very funny pitching that he could dye his hair black and be Raylan. He was a big part of the show, and he’s missed. I didn’t get to go to the set, I was flying home that night, but people who were there said it was a weird feeling. It was a sad day," the showrunner said.
Yost's one reservation is not having a send-off scene between Arlo and Boyd Crowder -- while Arlo had some memorable last words to his son, he had not had a similar moment of closure with the son-he-never-had. Yost explaine, "I think one of the balls that I’m most upset about dropping this season is we never had a scene between Boyd and Arlo. The stories of Boyd were keeping him so busy down in Harlan that we never found a reason for him to go to Arlo, and the reason we didn’t do it, basically, is because we knew that Arlo would say the same thing that he says to Raylan [about Drew Thompson] but he just might have been nicer about it. He still wouldn’t have told Boyd."
Elsewhere, Colt's world began to unravel in similarly violent fashion, with a bloody encounter with the friendly neighborhood heroin dealer. Yost credits Ron Eldard with much of the set-up for this pivotal scene, as his character explains his stressed mindset and tense situation to a frazzled drug addict. "I think a big part of it was Ron pitching to me, 'What if he sits down with him and says, ‘Let’s have a smoke.' It was just kinda cool and an odd way for him to explain the situation — this is the jam I’m in. We are so blessed on this show with actors who care a great deal about what their characters do and why they do it, and will always be questioning us, running things by us, and coming up with ideas," Yost said. "There was a lot of work on that scene and talking to Ron about how that whole sequence would go — what Colt’s mindset was, what he was thinking, what he wanted. Why is he sticking around? Is he afraid of Boyd? Is he trying to live up to Boyd’s expectation? I think we ended up finding a good place for this, which is this is the last chance for Colt. Boyd didn’t know that he was getting a guy who was struggling with heroin addiction, didn’t know he was getting a guy who’s at the end of his rope. The work on that scene that Ben did with Ron was really, really strong. And a lot of it was on the day with John Dahl as well. It’s a wonderful scene..."
What did you think of this week's episode?