The season-long mystery had some major developments on last night's episode of FX's "Justified." Showrunner Graham Yost spoke with Entertainment Weekly about this week's pivotal episode, and what the big reveals could potentially lead to down the line. Of course, if you haven't seen last night's episode, SPOILERS lie ahead...
First and foremost, our own Sam McPherson called the unveiling of Sheriff Shelby as the season's mystery man Drew Thompson. Yost explained that while the clues were there, the writers had only recently settled on Shelby as the big reveal. "We didn’t know until we were finishing up breaking [the fifth episode]. We had played with various other possibilities. Initially, we were thinking Drew would be a Clover Hill person. And then we thought, 'Eh, we don’t really know them. We’re not invested.' And then we thought maybe Josiah [guest star Gerald McRaney], who got his foot chopped off. 'Yeah, but we were thinking we wanted Drew to go on the run, and that wouldn’t work.' And then I got a call that Ben Cavell in the writers room had hit on an idea," Yost said. "It might have come up before that, and we all just kind of pooh-poohed it. But in that context, he said, 'What if Shelby’s Drew?'"
He continued, "We liked the idea of a guy who was on the run from the law working as a sheriff’s deputy for years and then becoming the sheriff. That was partly suggested by something that [EP Fred Golan] had read about, a guy was running for Congress and then it was found out he was living under a stolen identity. Then it became a balancing act: We wanted to support the answer, but we didn’t want to give it away. The thing is, in this modern world, people really pay such close attention to everything in a show, and because of the various forums and blogs and feeding off each other, it’s harder to really pull it off as a complete surprise."
Elsewhere, Raylan transported his father's murderer to another prison, resulting in some tense moments for our strong and silent protagonist. "Raylan seems all fine and dandy with the fact that this man killed his father, and we wanted that one moment where maybe there’s a little something else going on," Yost explained of the scene in which Hunter leaps from the transport vehicle. "That’s from Raylan’s side. From Hunter’s side, he would rather die than be tortured to death in prison, but under no circumstances was he gonna give up Drew’s new identity."
Colt's lies also came to a head this week, as Boyd learned the truth about the disappearance of Ellen May. Yost draws a distinction between the betrayal of Colt and Boyd's old running buddy Devil. "The big reason [Boyd killed Devil] was Devil betrayed Boyd and was going to kill him. Colt screwed up and didn’t tell him. There was nothing malicious about it. He wasn’t trying to hurt Boyd. He wasn’t betraying him the way Johnny is with Duffy. So that was critical. I think he feels for Colt, being a vet himself, and he can see that Colt is struggling and he made a miscalculation by bringing him on, but there was no ill will," the producer said. "Walton loved that scene on the page, and then he got to the stage and had second thoughts about certain things, and they sat with him and ran it through, and it ended up coming back to pretty much the way it was written. The whole giving Colt the gun and making him show Boyd where he shot Ellen May, when I read that, I just thought that’s fantastic. By that point, Boyd knows what’s going on, so we know the gun’s not loaded. But Boyd was wondering if he was gonna hear a click. Was Colt gonna try [to shoot him]? In which case, Boyd would’ve killed him. But he didn’t."
The two stories intersecting was a happy accident for the crew as Yost relates. "When Shelby grabbed Ellen May at the end of [the fourth episode], and then we find out in [the fifth] that he’s got her, we had no idea that he was Drew at that point. We had scripted that before we knew, and that ends up having great stuff we can really play with. That’s just one of the things working on this show — throwin’ a lot of stuff up in the air and then just seein’ what sticks, what we want to follow," he explained.
What did you think of last night's episode?