'Justified' shaking up Harlan County in season 5 finale
Spinoff Online spoke with Yost as part of FX’s latest press call, and in a candid conversation, the writer opened up on how the pieces fit together for not only the season finale but the impending sixth and final season of the acclaimed crime drama.
“You’ll see a big shift in the finale,” he promised. “You’ll see what happens to the resolve of Ava this season, the resolve of the Crowes and also the Boyd story. And there is a big reset that happens in the finale. But, yes, the whole sort of point of this season was to strip away everyone from everyone so that Ava is alone in prison, Boyd is alone on the outside and Raylan is alone.”
That lonely mindset has presented viewers with a more desperate, dangerous version of Raylan over the course of the season, and the deputy U.S. marshal’s bad-boy tendencies have only been tested more since his boss Art was shot a few episodes back. “It’s interesting that you can see it as the hardcore Raylan who, as Winona called him in the pilot, the angriest man she’s ever known, and I think that is part of it,” Yost said. “But it’s also Raylan’s struggle because he wants to get Darryl [Crowe], but he can’t just kill him because then that would doom Kendall to a long stretch in prison.”
Compounding matters, Yost said Raylan doesn’t want to disrespect Art any more than he already has, even as he goes out for vengeance. “You see what he does in those scenes with Ava and I think it tears him apart,” he said. “I don’t think he wants to be the guy who says I’ll get the guards to look the other way, but he’s desperate. And I think that it’s more than him being hardcore Raylan as being desperate Raylan. And he is really just trying to figure a way out of this.”
The producer explained that the finale will also put a spotlight on Walton Goggins’ Boyd to help set up the character’s own final arc in Season 6. “Boyd is really, the one anchor he’s had, the one thing he’s had is that he loves Ava,” Yost said. “That’s the most important thing in his life. And yet, he makes certain decisions at the end of this season that sort of makes you wonder how important that is. And you’ll see what happens at the end of the season.
“Boyd has always been the big bad,” the writer said of Crowder’s role as series antagonist. “He’s always been essentially the white whale for Raylan. And I think Raylan has looked the other way because Boyd has served his purposed at times, but I think that as we see toward the end of this season, Raylan’s frustration with that and where Boyd’s life has taken him and brought him to do things that Raylan is just agog at.”
And of course, the woman who has sometimes been in between the two characters will have a critical role to play in the Season 5 finale and beyond … and perhaps not always behind bars. “The effect it’s had on Ava … I think that that’s one of the things we were going for in the penultimate episode,” Yost said. “So, it’s not going to be easy. We can’t just, you know, Raylan is not just going to go shoot Boyd in the first episode of the final season. We have to figure a story. And that’s one of the reasons we brought Mary Steenburgen in, to create and bring in another world and another thing that Boyd can be involved with for the final season.”
Other plotlines won’t be left dangling either, as Yost confirmed Art will survive into Season 6. “We’ll see Art. I’ve tried right from the beginning, since Art was shot in the 11th episode of the season, I’ve tried to not be coy at all,” he said. “We’re not playing that for suspense. Art lives, and he will be a part of things. I will say this, that one of the themes of the final season, as it were, theme might be not exactly the right term for this, but is the notion of one more thing before I go. And that is certainly the case for Raylan. It’ll also be the case for Boyd and we also think it’ll be a case for Art. In talking to our technical advisor, former chief deputy in L.A., Charlie Almanza, he said that it’s not uncommon for a chief deputy before he retires to say, you know, there’s one more case I want to handle, one more guy I want to get. And that will be part of Art’s story.”