Boyd has the guard who has falsely accused her in custody and just lets him go, and when he has leverage to make a deal with Raylan that could maybe get Ava out, he instead asks for this nebulous "clean slate." What's going on in his head at that point?

Graham Yost: Boyd's so busy with his heroin deal, he doesn't see her from the fifth episode until the ninth. He's got good reasons, but I think Ava feels a little abandoned from that. But Boyd is separate from what she's going through, and he's wondering, "What am I doing? All this stuff and going to Mexico and this and that, and people dying," and the whole reason was to get Ava out. He was starting to lose faith in the whole enterprise in (episode) 9 when he's killed this old man. His state of mind is exemplified in the scene at the bar at Audry's where he's there with Duffy and Picker and Daryl, and then Jay and Roscoe come in, and then Raylan and Miller come in, but before that, Boyd says, "Why don't we just start shooting and see who's left standing?" He's at an existential precipice. And when Ava says they're done in 10, the very mooring has come loose for him. It was our feeling that in 11, when he goes to sit down with Picker and Duffy, he's thinking he has a 50/50 chance of living or dying, and he's kind of okay with it. I think he's in a very dark place. So having Ava get out at the end is a big surprise to him. We'll see in the sixth season if Ava ever asks why he didn't make a deal with Raylan, he can quite honestly say, "You broke up with me." He thinks at the end of the season that it's because he let Albert go that the guy was willing to change his testimony. Boyd thinks that by not killing this guy, Ava got out.

You mentioned Boyd being in a dark place and all the troubles he had. Ava was in prison all year and was constantly in peril, Raylan and Art weren't speaking to each other for much of the season. Did this feel like a darker season of the show to you, and if so, what was the intention behind that darkness?

Graham Yost: Again, I think there's a lot of similarity to season 3. There was a lot of darkness to season 3 with Quarles' character. We did want to, knowing it was the penultimate season, to re-establish Boyd's lethality. We did that from the top and kept it going. But we wanted that sense of the first four or five episodes that all these things are coming to a boil. And it looks like Boyd is going to win. He's done some very clever tricks to get Ava out, and he's made a deal with Hot Rod to take out Johnny. So everything is coming up roses, and then the whole rug gets pulled.

Similarly for Raylan and Art. Art has had this dawning suspicion that Raylan was involved with the death of Nicky Augustine. And he gets ever more confirming evidence to that end. But he gets that great win in getting Theo Tonin. And he has this great showdown with these guys in the diner, and he's on top of the world, and then Raylan's love and respect for him means he has to tell him the truth, in a veiled way to protect himself. And again, the rug is pulled out from under Raylan. That was our goal for the fifth episode, and from then on, it was our goal to just have things continue to get worse and worse for both of them. We said to ourselves at the end of the fourth season, "We can never again have a gun pointed at Winona again. This is it; We can do this once in the series." Just like that, we knew that chances are Art is the only one of the marshals who will take a bullet in the series. Though we haven't decided on that for sure about Tim and Rachel in season six. But we knew that was a big big deal. Things have got to get a lot worse before they're going to get better. That's just basic dramatic construction. So, yes, there is a darkness. If we have any shot at finding any light at the end of the series, we had to go there now.

Now, it seemed to me that the body count was higher this season because some significant characters like Johnny died. But is that just my imagination and this is roughly the number of people who die in a given season?

Graham Yost: (laughs) Oh, it's just so horrible when you put it that way. It's a violent world and a violent show. I would say it's probably comparable to the first season. I'm trying to remember in the third if there were that many bodies dropping. Certainly in the fourth not as much. It's above-par in that regard. But we don't do an actual count. I know season 1 ended with a lot of people dying.

Is the cartel just going to let Boyd off the hook for everything he's done now that Alberto and two of his goons were killed?

Graham Yost: It's funny, I was thinking about that. And I don't know. We haven't decided on that. We're done with heroin and we're done with Mexico, but maybe those characters could come back in some way.

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, "TV (The Book)" about the 100 greatest shows of all time, is available now. He can be reached at