How much did Edi Gathegi's abrupt departure change the plan? What was Jean Baptiste's role going to be had he stuck around?

Graham Yost: He was really supposed to be the consiglieri: the most trusted person because he's not a part of the family, like Tom hagen in "The Godfather." But also that he had a special affection for Wendy, and a protective feling towards Kendall. And it was going to be a question of how far would he go to defend the Crowes, who aren't his blood, and where we could go with that. And Edi wasn't happy, we understood that. It can be hard to take a gamble on a season of work, and he didn't feel it was materializing at that point. So we had to get him off the show. And what happened with that is, honestly, we kind of feel that that gave us the season. When we came up with the notion, I think it was Chris Provenzano and VJ Boyd, who came in and pitched the idea that Danny would just get the shotgun and shoot Jean Baptiste with it. The additional thing there was us asking, "Is Kendal in the room or is he outside of the room?" We decided to leave him there and witness that, and that then started a whole thing for Kendal, which is his fear, his secret. He reaches out to his "Uncle Jack," who is his father, because he wants to get away. He's this kid who is trapped in this world. That gave us our eighth episode where he's on the run with Jack and Raylan helps Wendy rescue the kid, and that gave a little bond with Raylan and Kendal. We didn't have it all planned out. We were in the room working on breaking 11, the episode where Kendal says, "I did it. I shot the man." When I heard that pitch, I thought that was fantastic. It totally fits with Daryl, it puts Kendal in a really tough position, and it puts Raylan in a position where he can't go full Raylan and just kill the guy, because he needs Daryl to confess or the kid will go to prison for a long time. That gave us our last run of the season. It was one of those things where we had to just have faith that we would figure it out, and it ended up being something we hadn't anticipated, and I think it was better than what we had planned.

How are we to reconcile Daryl ordering the murder of his brother Dilly in the premiere with the family's extreme closeness and protectiveness of each other in the rest of the season?

Graham Yost: It's one of those internal inconsistencies that we like, and is certainly part of Elmore's world. I remember Tim bringing up, it isn't Elmore's world, but related, where in the "American Hustle" trailer, Jennifer Lawrence's character says something like, "I don't want to say anything bad about so-and-so, but this person is terrible."  You can say one thing and do another and really be unaware of it. Not only is Daryl unaware of it, but he would say he was protecting the family in having Danny kill Dilly. Dilly was the one who could have brought them all down. He was just so undependable, it was too much of a risk to have him around. That to us is fun — someone saying it's all about family, and you've already seen him order his brother's murder.

Was it difficult writing the Ava in prison material and having her be so separate from the other action for so much of this year?

Graham Yost: If you really go back, we didn't see her that much in the first four episodes, and then in the fifth, it looked like she was going to get out. We were just keeping Ava alive in the first five episodes, and then starting in the sixth one, she's in a much worse place, and she's all alone. We really liked the notion of giving Ava her own story, and seeing how she would do without a man to save her. Given that her MO in life has been to attach herself to a powerful, charismatic man who is going to get her away from tall this. Boyd's brother Bowman was a football star and he was going to get her out of Harlan, and that didn't work; he was an abusive bastard who deserved to die. And then Raylan comes onto the scene, and right from the pilot, she says, "I knew everything was going to be okay from the minute I saw you." And that doesn't work out because does she really want to leave Harlan? She's really a Harlan girl. And then there's Boyd. So there's always been this man to take care of her, and we liked the idea of her having to figure it out on her own, because we knew where we were headed in season 6, where Ava has found she has resources that she might not have expected, and how is that going to have an effect on the story?

Interestingly enough, those stories weren't that hard to break. We knew what the building blocks for that story were, what would happen in episodes 6-12, and roughly in 13. Stuff moved around a little bit, but it was also stuff that we would shoot on its own in this mothballed juvenile detention facility in LA. So there would be a day there every episode, and it was its own deal.

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Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "The Revolution Was Televised," about the last 15 years of TV drama, is for sale at Amazon. He can be reached at