Graham Yost walks us through Justified’s third season (Part 3 of 4)
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Justified creator Graham Yost recently spoke with The A.V. Club about the third season of his hit FX crime show. This section of the interview covers episodes seven through 10, beginning with “The Man Behind The Curtain” and concluding with “Guy Walks Into A Bar.” Don’t miss part 1 and part 2.
“The Man Behind The Curtain” (February 28, 2012)
Nobody’s happy with Quarles this week. Quarles gets on Raylan’s bad side by assuming he’s on Boyd’s payroll. Sammy Tonin (Max Perlich), the son of the Detroit boss, pursues Quarles on behalf of his father, who is none too happy with him, either. Raylan’s renewed pressure on Quarles prompts him and Wynn Duffy to drag Winona’s ex-husband Gary back into the picture.
The A.V. Club: Sammy Tonin shows up here as evidence that the Detroit bosses are eager to get rid of Quarles. How much of Quarles’ backstory did you imagine? What’s in his book?
Graham Yost: We started writing this season and putting in Quarles before we knew everything we were going to find out about him. But one of the things we settled on fairly early on was the idea of the guy who had been an adopted son of a crime boss. And that he’d been destined to be the anointed one, at least he thought. But the biological son became the challenger, and just due to blood ties, he ended up getting the job as second-in-command of the outfit. And so our first idea was simply that there was no real room for Quarles in Detroit, so he looked for other avenues. You know, a place where he could stake his own claim. And then we came up with the idea of there being something darker to it. That he wasn’t just looking to start his own enterprise and be on his own. That he’d been kind of pushed out, that he’d done something that had incurred the wrath of his boss, Theo. So [Theo’s] sort of, “I’m not going to kill you, but get out of my sight, and if you can make that work, that’s great. And then I don’t have to deal with you anymore.” So that became the rough terrain we settled on.
AVC: In our review for this episode, Noel Murray asserted that one of the major themes of the season was “the futility of burying mistakes in a community founded on digging.” Is that a fair assessment?
GY: Wow. You know, I love it when stuff like that is written, because we have no intent, necessarily, to do that. I think that that’s pretty cool. I wish I could claim that we had plotted that out.
AVC: That there was some sort of connection to the—
GY: —to coal mining and everything. I think that that’s a nice way to locate it. I think there’s a general principle involved, which is “The more you try to bury secrets, the more they will come up.” Or at least in a dramatic medium, that’s something. When you think you’ve laid something to rest, you can count on the writers to go back and dig it up at some point.
AVC: We see it pretty literally with Devil, as well.
GY: Yes. But that was, again, not something we planned. That was just something like, “Okay, what can we use against Boyd? What could be a big turn here?” We looked at a variety of things, and we just thought Devil was the best one.
AVC: So you don’t think in terms of, “We have this theme, and let us serve this theme.”
GY: No, I mean, I think we do have a theme. And as I think I said yesterday, one of our themes was crossing the line. We see Art cross the line, we certainly see Ava, we see Boyd. Raylan is dancing with the line in these next two episodes with the gun that was used to kill Gary. And then on from that—what will he do with the gun? And then will he cross that line? And so that was a theme, but that doesn’t mean other themes don’t emerge. And sometimes unconsciously, they’re just little things we want to tease out occasionally here and there.
AVC: There’s a scene in this episode where Tim gets angry at Raylan for essentially using him as unofficial support staff for not-always-official business. How do you see Raylan’s relationship with his coworkers?
GY: I think we feel we really underserved Rachel this season. And in general, Rachel Brooks and Tim Gutterson do get short-shrifted. It’s a series about the guy in the hat. And then it’s Boyd and then it’s Art and the women. Anyway, in terms of Rachel, we’ve always felt there was more of a mutual respect that she could put up with him, because she could see he was good at his job, but she looks at him slightly askance. That he’s a bit preposterous to her. But Tim—that was something that merged last year. We didn’t exactly know—I mean, I put Jacob [Pitts, who plays Tim Gutterson] in the cast because I had worked with him on The Pacific and just thought he was a great actor, and sort of promised “We’ll figure it out as we go.” And last year, this very funny snarkiness emerged between Gutterson and Raylan. That Tim can really needle him, and in a dry way. And we really enjoyed that, so we wanted to play with that more this season. And then this became a little arc, and it really started last season with him abandoning Tim when he was trying to find out who put the hit on him and Winona. Then he takes Gary out of the house and Gary disappears, and we hit on it a bit in the first episode when Tim takes him to see Wynn Duffy because there’s some link to a murder. So we just figured that that was something fun to play. And then it really played out in [episodes] seven and eight. And so we were setting stuff up, frankly, in [episode] six, where he gives him the file on Quarles, so he’s got information he can reflect back to Quarles in seven. And then there’s a payoff to that in eight. And that’s just sort of a mini-arc for those characters in this season.
AVC: To get back to the business of serving characters and serving actors: You mention Rachel as being perhaps underserved. Does that become an issue? This show has a very expansive cast and a lot of people who are regulars and others you bring on for one-shot roles or mini-arcs. Do you have to ask yourself, “How do we serve this cast?” Or is it about serving the drama and you just have to deal with whatever fallout there is from that?
GY: You know, it’s somewhere in between. Erica [Tazel, who plays Rachel] and Jacob are just real troopers, and they’re enjoying the ride. They just wish they had more to do. And I wish we could give them more. And we always plan to give them more. We always manage to have a couple episodes that are pretty Art-heavy every year, too. We love Nick [Searcy, who plays Art Mullen], and Art and Raylan are great together. And it’s nice to get him out from behind the desk and not have him just be the grumpy boss who’s got to deal with this hothead. To a certain degree, we just serve the story, deal with the fallout, and yet at the same time, try to look for places they can be together. And Tim Olyphant is very proactive on that, saying, “Well, how about this episode, let me go on the road with Rachel?,” or “Let me go on the road with Gutterson.” And so he’s often looking out for that as well.
AVC: You’ve mentioned throughout this interview Timothy Olyphant’s input on the show. Where does he become involved in the process? Is he looking at scripts after they’re completed, or is he on set guiding it that way? What’s the level of his involvement?
GY: This year, we got him into the writers’ room earlier than before, and ran ideas by him, got his input. There was a big moment where we’d outlined—and I think I told you this yesterday—we’d outlined episode four and it had both the kidney story in it and Dickie getting out of prison, and it was all jammed into one, and he said, “I really think this is two episodes.” And I said, “You’re right.” And we went back and rebroke that story as two episodes. And that was fairly early on in the game, well before we started production. So it’s my goal this year to get him in even earlier, because he’s got incredibly strong instincts and ideas, and really has come to love and inhabit the Elmore world. So he’s part of the defenders of the faith. And it’s a big part of the show. And then on set, and in production, he’s working with the writer of that episode all the time. And the joke with Tim is that as they’re saying “Action,” he’s still talking to the writer and walking backward onto the set. And saying, [comically fast] “Well maybe we could do blah blah blah…” [Immediately.] “Action!” They’ll do the scene, cut, and he’ll just immediately come out and say, “Okay, let’s do it again, but blah blah blah blah blah blah and let’s try this!” So it’s part of the happy chaos I was talking about yesterday.
AVC: At this point in the season, Raylan is living above the bar. This seems like a low point, and yet is there a sense he might actually belong there? That he’s better off alone?
GY: One of the big things was that Tim and I think a lot of the audience just wanted to get him the hell out of the motel. There’s been a lot of shootings in the motel. There’s been bloodstains on the carpet. And there was sort of a sadness at the motel. And also, once it was over with Winona, it just felt like the motel had been their trysting place, and it was just good to get rid of it.
And in Elmore’s book, Raylan, he had him living above a bar that was frequented by college students, and he’s sort of working as a bouncer for free. And so we just appropriated that, and made it not entirely a college bar—it’s called a dive at some point, but it’s actually a beautiful set, so it’s not really a dive. And we have music there, and it became another good set for us to use, because it’s tough to do this show in seven days, especially when we go on location, and it’s tough to do a show about marshals where you don’t go on location, because that’s what they do—they’re out almost all the time looking for people. So we needed other places for people to be. That’s why we built Johnny’s bar.
“Watching The Detectives” (March 6, 2012)
The FBI and the Lexington homicide department converge on the office on the same day, creating problems for Raylan and a headache for Art. When Gary’s body is found on Winona’s front lawn, Raylan becomes a chief suspect. Meanwhile, Quarles and Boyd insert themselves into the election for county sheriff.
AVC: This one had two investigations converging on Raylan at once. How did that idea develop?
GY: Coming out of [episode] seven, we liked this idea of Raylan getting into a conflict with the FBI. And what could they go after him for? And our technical advisor, Charlie Almanza, who’s a retired chief deputy in the marshal service, said that talking to his friends, they all said, “Raylan’s dirty, right?” And we were kind of surprised, and said, “Why?” “Well it’s because Boyd keeps on operating with relative impunity down in Harlan, and Raylan hasn’t put him away.” So we just thought, “Well, that’s interesting to play with, if that’s the perception. How could that perception be used against him? And who would want to use it?” And so that’s how we came up with the character of Barkley, who Stephen Tobolowsky plays—we meet him in seven, and he’s got a bigger part in eight. Plus there’s a natural antipathy between the FBI and the marshal service. I think that’s just like Army-Navy football games. Inter-service rivalries. But it was something we could use, anyway.
And then, as I said yesterday, we knew we wanted to kill Gary, who was just a wonderful part of the show. We thought, “If someone was trying to send Raylan a message, what’s the next thing Quarles could do?” And we thought, “Okay, he could kill Gary, and that would be a real ‘Fuck you’ to Raylan, and it’s an implied threat against Winona.” And then someone remembered the bullet [Raylan threw at Duffy]. And they said, “What if it was that bullet [that killed Gary], and that shell casing?” And that was a real lightbulb moment, and we all went, “That is really cool.” So it became this sort of two-pronged attack for Quarles, who is really starting to get cornered. Raylan has come at him, he’s starting to shut him down, he put the eviction notice in [episode] seven, and he’s also squeezed Sammy, so Quarles is in a tough spot. So how could he come back at Raylan? And that’s really what the episode became. And it was also, frankly, a production thing, too. We shot [episodes] seven and eight together, cross-boarded them, to save a day—which, by the way, we’ll never do again, because we ended up with a short episode on seven and had to add stuff, so it ultimately didn’t really save us any money. It becomes just a bear for production. So not the best thing to do.
So instead of being on location four days or five days out of the seven-day schedule, we can just maybe go out one day or two days, and that was the plan for [episode] eight. And last year, I wrote the episode where Raylan and Winona are trying to get the money back into the evidence locker. And that kind of suspense stuff is something I’ve been writing since Speed, certainly. It’s the kind of thing where I say, “You know what, I’ll just do this one,” instead of trying to be hands-on with another writer, or look over their shoulder. It’s the kind of thing I have some facility with, and I certainly enjoying doing. And it’s funny: that episode is a popular one, but I see nothing but mistakes. I know that it has strong act-outs. Killing Gary at the end of the teaser—that is strong. Having “We’ve got prints on the casing, they’re yours” at the end of act one. Raylan following Winona to the elevator and then Barkley and Vasquez saying, “Yeah, we suspect you of being a dirty cop.” And those are fun things that bring you back after the Charmin and vodka commercials or whatever.
So it’s fun to put that suspense puzzle-piece together. But what I like in the episode are the three instances where people who have a lot of anger toward Raylan nonetheless back him up. And it’s Art, who’s incredibly pissed off that this is happening in his office, but basically looks the other way when Raylan has disappeared. And it’s Gutterson, who in one of my favorite moments in the season takes Raylan down in the elevator, and Raylan says, “You gotta let me go.” And then [Gutterson] just doesn’t get out of the elevator and says, “I got you to the basement.” I love that kind of thing. And then Winona, who’s so angry with him, she goes to her house and she finds the gun and she gives it to him. That’s the kind of story I always love coming back to on this show, people being there for each other when you don’t expect it.
AVC: The episode actually reminded me quite a lot of The Shield, with always had Vic Mackey scrambling around the office to avoid internal-affairs officers or the captain. You cast Cathy Ryan—who’s married to Shield creator Shawn Ryan—in the finale. Was The Shield an influence?
GY: Shawn knows I never watched The Shield, because we were doing Boomtown at the time, and I just hated that there was another cop show that was getting even better reviews. But Shawn and Cathy and my wife and I spent time at a film festival together last year, and just had a blast. And so Cathy’s name actually came through one of the writers on the show, Jon Worley, who worked on [Ryan’s show] Terriers, and knows Shawn and [Cathy] very well. And it was fantastic to have her on board. But I have a deeper antipathy toward The Shield, because whenever I’m out in public with Walton Goggins, people will come up and say, “You are the best actor in the world” and Walt will say, “Oh this is Graham Yost, he runs Justified.” They’ll go, “Yeah, yeah, no, The Shield, man! That was the shit!” And so that’s an ongoing joke between [Walt] and myself. But getting compared at all with The Shield is very flattering.
AVC: This episode contains a funny exchange between Raylan and the investigator about the bullet, where Raylan tells the investigator about throwing the bullet at Duffy and saying, “The next one’s coming faster.” The investigator responds, “That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard.” Was that a bit of meta-commentary, where you kind of sit back and say, “This is kind of fun, this show”?
GY: I think that actor improvised it. I think it was just one take, and he just tried that. It was sort of meta, and we’re allowed to do those things occasionally, I think. Actually, we’re allowed to do it more than occasionally, because in Elmore’s world, people talk about movies all the time. They talk about popular culture, and how people see themselves. So, “You think you’re Gary Cooper,” or, “You think you’re this,” or whatever.
AVC: There’s plenty of that talk on this as well. There’s a reference, not by name, to the film Turistas—
GY: Turistas was back in the kidney episode.
AVC: And then there’s the bit in the second-to-last episode where they someone confuses Platoon for Cocoon.
GY: And there’s also a really oblique reference to Papillon. “Looks like the guy in the butterfly movie.”
AVC: Sticking to this episode, how did you cast Stephen Tobolowsky?
GY: He did an episode for us on Raines, and he’s fantastic. And sometimes, when you don’t have a lot of time to build up characters and round them out and color them in and give them dimension, you get someone like Stephen, who can come in and just nail it. So that was incredibly helpful. It was very, very kind of him to do that. Then we have yet another arrow in our quiver for subsequent seasons, if he’s available when we’re doing an FBI story.
AVC: There’s another moment here, with regard to the election, where Limehouse says he likes to “back the winning side.” That’s a pretty concise statement of his philosophy, isn’t it?
GY: Kind of. I think that’s Limehouse presenting to the world what he thinks the world wants to see. Which is, he doesn’t want to back any side. It seems natural and it makes sense that he would back the winning side, but in fact it’s just part of his play. We’ve seen him develop an alliance with Boyd, and now he’s coming to Quarles, and it’s, “Okay, this guy is playing both sides.” That’s the way I take it with Limehouse.
AVC: Or just whatever side is going to get everyone off his back.
GY: Yeah. In a way, although his goal is to tell both sides they’re the most special, and then have them kill each other. That’s really his plan. “Just leave me alone.” Because if he actually got into bed with one side or the other, then he’d be working with them, and he doesn’t want to work with anyone. He’ll be their banker, but that’s the limit of the relationship.
“Loose Ends” (March 13, 2012)
Quarles enlists Limehouse’s help in Sheriff Napier’s reelection campaign, but the opposing candidate, Shelby (Jim Beaver), gets a boost when Boyd speaks up during their debate. Tanner Dodd’s attempts to play for all sides come to a fiery end. And Ava causes problems for the Crowder clan by shielding a prostitute, Ellen May, from Delroy, a murderous pimp who paid the Crowders protection money.
AVC: This is a great episode for Ava, and it shows her as one of the more morally ambiguous characters on the show. What kind of code is she operating under?
GY: This was a fun episode for Ava, and Joelle [Carter] had a blast doing it. And our director, Gwyneth [Horder-Payton], just did a fantastic job. You could tell the fun that was being had on the set. And you get William Mapother playing Delroy, and he’s just a wonderful bad guy. Anyway, Abby [Miller], who plays Ellen May, is just one of those people that did a knockout scene last year, and we just kept on giving stuff to her this year.
But what does it say about Ava and her code? It’s a defining thing, because we wanted the audience to actually think—as my brother said when he was watching it, he couldn’t believe Ava was going to turn Ellen May over to Delroy. He really didn’t want her to do that, and it’s like, “Oh my God, she’s going to do it,” and then the resolve of that [Ava shooting Delroy] was incredibly satisfying. And of course incredibly violent, it being Justified. But I think that, again, this is part of the bigger arc we were planning for Ava over the season, which is, she said she doesn’t want Boyd involved in whoring, and now she’s pulled into this.
It started in [episode] six when Ava went to talk to Ellen May about what happened [in the botched robbery], and then Raylan got pulled in, and she’s been drawn into this world, but she feels a natural affinity for these girls. And there is this element of Ava as this kind of backwoods feminist—although, even as I say those words, it doesn’t feel right. But she was a battered woman who killed her husband. And she got off. So she’s empowered in that direction. And she just won’t tolerate that shit. It just really, really annoys her. So her standing up for Ellen May in this episode is a big statement. Now you’ve seen the subsequent episodes, so you know what happens to that. And we see her on the other side of the line, and it’s not very appealing. But I think it feels real. So that was the thing: Boyd’s out of the picture, Boyd’s in jail, and she’s got to run things. And then it also was the thing that David Meunier [who plays Johnny Crowder] and Joelle came up with this little flirty thing between Johnny Crowder and Ava. And that was when we really started to get a sense of, honestly, what we really might do with Johnny toward the end of the season.
AVC: I think you also have, in terms of some of her darker actions, that she is a Crowder. There is that element of her character.
GY: Yeah, that was something that we hit upon. Not a Crowder by birth, but by marriage. It took her a long time to admit that. But that’s one of the evolutions of her character: “This is the life we’ve chosen.”
AVC: But you would assert that when Ellen May lands on her doorstep, Ava’s actions are about protecting her entirely? She’s not necessarily looking ahead.
GY: I think it’s about protecting her. I do think that’s the way we played it, and in the subsequent scene with Boyd, that’s when she sees another possibility. And I think she recognizes “Hey, it’s the oldest profession in the world. It’s gonna happen. And if it’s going to happen, let’s do it the right way. Let’s get this asshole out of the way.”
AVC: This episode also has a really crucial scene between Boyd and Ava regarding this incident, where he tells her in regards to killing Delroy, “If that’s the decision you needed to make, I respect that.” The line was very carefully spoken, and it’s reminiscent of one of those non-apology apologies. Sort of “Sorry you were offended by what I said,” rather than simply “Sorry.” Does this suggest some fracture in their relationship? A point where they don’t quite meet?
GY: No. We honestly looked at it the other way, which is that Boyd is being very careful in how he says it, because he can’t just say, “Great, fantastic.” It’s a huge decision she made, that has, as we see in subsequent episodes, a big effect in their lives. So he couldn’t just applaud it. And yet at the same time, he’s proud of her for having done what she felt she had to do and taking care of it. That’s the other thing, is that she took care of Delroy’s body, took care of the situation. Now there is going to be fallout, so he understands that perhaps better than she does.
AVC: Tanner Dodd was sort of a human pinball of the season. It seems that in this universe, you can either be a leader or a henchman. If you’re anywhere between those two things, that’s not going to be a healthy place.
GY: I think that’s a good point. Yes, you just embrace your role as a henchman and you can survive like Mike, who works for Duffy and who is the worst bodyguard in the world. But yeah, Tanner is the henchman with aspirations to greater power and money and whatever. And it was sort of happenstance in this conservation of cast, like, “Okay, who can Raylan be looking for? Who do we still have in the wind? Well, let’s make sure Tanner Dodd is still in the wind.” And then it was brought to our attention just how bad a road this was for him. He gets his knee smashed by a pipe, he gets thrown out of a trailer at 30 miles an hour, and then he blows up. It’s just a sad, sad life. [Laughs.]
AVC: This episode has the big debate scene. How did you see this election battle playing out? Were you referencing any particular political scene? Was there any background to that?
GY: Well, a couple of things. One was, we know it’s always fun to have Boyd do a big oration. And he certainly had the great church scene in the first season, and he had elements of that in the town-hall scene last year, although that really became Mags’ scene by the end. But before the season, we told Walton we’d like to get into politics. My inspiration for that was a great scene in Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps when Robert Donat is on the run, and he stumbles into a town hall where there’s a political event, like a rally, a speech about to happen, and he goes up and he doesn’t know any of the issues or the people involved. He just talks platitude after platitude, and I think that’s kind of what Boyd does. If you actually looked at the speech, it’s completely meaningless and unrelated to the issues at hand. He’s just playing the populist line of the company gun-thugs vs. the real people, and that had nothing to do with Sheriff Napier and Shelby. Boyd still manages to sing the right note, it’s just the words are meaningless.
As for the election, we did some research and talked to people and read stories, and found incidents where cars were blown up or bullets shot through windows. And we also came across that twist that’s coming in [episode] 10, involving the nepotism laws [that ultimately disqualify Napier], so it’s not as though we’re making a comment. We were just using stories we had read about. And I think it paints kind of a snarky, dark picture of Kentucky politics, but you could do the same thing in Rhode Island or New Jersey or Arizona, probably. You know. That’s the nature of politics.
AVC: Though Shelby is ineffectual and corrupt, there’s still an implication that he might do the job with a measure of integrity.
GY: Yes. That’s deliberate.
AVC: That comes up a little bit later, too, in terms of his discomfort with Boyd’s “get out the vote” effort, which involves Ava’s girls exchanging handjobs and blowjobs for votes.
GY: Shelby’s one of these sort of otherwise good guys who ends up being pulled into something that is—again, he crosses a line. By allowing Boyd to run him as sheriff, he crossed the line. By agreeing to work in an Oxy clinic, Doc Stern, back in episode five and then into six, crossed the line, and he pays for that with his life. We’d established Stern last year as this “good guy” who runs a clinic, and he’s going to fix up Ava in order to make money for his clinic. But as soon as you get into bed with bad guys, it all sort of tumbles downhill. And Shelby has more steel in him, so we’d like to explore next season that relationship between Shelby and Boyd.
“Guy Walks Into A Bar” (March 20, 2012)
Though Boyd’s candidate, Shelby, loses the election to Quarles’ candidate, Napier, Boyd does some behind-the-scenes maneuvering to have Napier disqualified on an obscure technicality. With that, Boyd believes he’s effectively checkmated Quarles out of Harlan, but Quarles sticks around, and his weakened position makes him more desperate and dangerous. Meanwhile, Raylan scrambles to keep Dickie from getting out of jail.
AVC: Here’s the episode where Quarles, in a moment of weakness, reveals a lot about himself.
GY: He was really, really scrambling, obviously, at that point, because he had all his eggs in the basket at the election. If Napier is reelected, he has free rein to harass Boyd and set up his mobile Oxy clinics. And then he can get everyone off his back and he wins, so this became a crucial episode. Then he gets that rug pulled out from underneath him. And that put him at his most vulnerable, and then he’s visited by Donovan, the Lexington street hustler, who confronts him and is going to kill him, and then his whole story spills out. I think there’s a line in that episode where Duffy says, “Maybe you should leave,” and Quarles says, “I’ve got nowhere to go.” Which is about as on-the-nose as we’d like to get in this series, and about as earnest as we’d like to get. Anyway, we just thought it was time to hear the whole story, and that was something that just developed.
The 19-year-old boy chained to a bed in an earlier episode, that was sort of an accident. I just threw that in because we wanted to find out more about Quarles, and it was something that everyone latched onto and said, “Okay.” So then that just developed into this thing. “If he had that, where does that come from?” And then, you know, the backstory of him and Theo and his father and everything, that was something that just developed that felt psychologically reasonable. We thought it would be a cool thing to do. And one of the big things, when I watch the scene, the thing that I love in it is Jere Burns. Him just sitting there with a gawk. Like, “Holy, shit.” Again, Quarles is a very formidable adversary. So he’s got a kid with a gun pointed at him who’s absolutely ready to kill him, and he manages to talk that kid out of the gun, and then later we see that kid chained to his toilet. So this guy is a bad guy, and he’s good at being a bad guy. It was part of that as well.
AVC: You’ve mentioned that Raylan’s improvised efforts to keep Dickie in jail were also a little bit improvised in the writing.
GY: Yeah, this was one of our harder episodes to break and get down. We were running down a whole different path for this [episode], and then Tim just really didn’t like it. We had this whole sort of Rio Bravo showdown in the bar that went on for pages and pages and involved other bad guys and stuff, and it just didn’t work for him. It didn’t really work for us, ultimately, and this is where we ended up. So the whole “Trying to keep Dickie in jail” thing was just something that evolved late in the game. Over three seasons, we get into trouble around this point. Because we know how it’s going to end. We know roughly what the last couple of episodes are going to be. But when you get into nine, 10, and 11, that’s where it can be a little difficult. But I think it ended up coming together, because of Quarles and Donovan in the trailer, and Quarles and Raylan in the bar, and the stuff with Lindsey [the bartender], and then the whole election thing, Boyd packing Quarles’ bags and sending him on his way. So it all kind of came together, but it was certainly not an easy one.
AVC: Raylan is composed and convincing in other settings. What about him that makes him so terrible in this courtroom appearance?
GY: You know, I think that’s something Tim stumbled on. I don’t know if it’s in Elmore’s books. But that’s a natural thing for a lot of people in law enforcement. There are some who are good at testifying in court, and some who aren’t. And the ones who aren’t really try to avoid it. Just as in growing up in school, there were some kids who are good at public speaking and some who aren’t. And you know, it’s nice to see that kind of vulnerability in him in his nervousness.
AVC: Regarding the conflict at the bar at the end: Quarles is making a brazen threat, and it’s matched by an equally surprising, strong response from Raylan.
GY: We wanted to ratchet up this stuff between Raylan and Quarles—because that’s obviously where we’re going toward the end of the season—and what can we do? And so the idea of Quarles saying, “I’m going to kill you” is just sort of a flip on what Raylan has done in the past. Back in the pilot, Raylan gave a guy 24 hours to get out of town or he’d shoot him on sight. And then later in that episode, Boyd says, “How about you get out of town in 24 hours or I’ll shoot you?” and Raylan says, “Now we’re talkin’.” So Raylan likes that kind of thing, and his surprising turn on it is: Quarles comes in, he makes his threat, and Raylan says, “Let’s do it now!” I think that’s just resonant. That’s Raylan’s character. That’s the kind of thing he does. He takes care of the bystanders by getting them out of the way. The thing he just hadn’t counted on was Lindsey. And Lindsey saves his life, because what Raylan doesn’t know is Quarles has a superpower, which is the gun up his sleeve. He could have killed Raylan with that. Raylan wouldn’t have seen that coming, just that quick motion, his arm is ready—bang bang—Raylan would be dead. So Lindsey ends up, unbeknownst to Raylan or herself, saving his life by having the shotgun.
Check back tomorrow for the fourth and final part.