Graham Yost Q&A: ‘Justified’ creator
"There is a lot of pressure now in the world of television to end a series well, and that was certainly our goal," says "Justified" showrunner and co-creator Graham Yost to Gold Derby in our recent video chat. His FX drama series about U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) returning to his Kentucky roots ended its six-season run this year.
Fans expected a final showdown between Givens and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), a man he had been pursuing for years, as well as a resolution of the love triangle between those two and Crowder's fiancee Ava (Joelle Carter). And it had to tie up the storyline that saw the Crowders plotting to steal $10 million from drug kingpin Avery Markham (Sam Elliott), his fiancee Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen) and their evil henchmen (Jonathan Tucker, Garret Dillahunt).
The last-ever episode featured gunfights, the capture of Boyd and Ava escaping. It then jumped forward four years to Ava living in California where Raylan tracked her down. He didn't arrest her, though, and discovered she had a son that Boyd never knew. The final scene featured Raylan visiting Boyd in prison, telling him that Ava had actually died three years earlier so that Boyd would never try to find her again.
The weekend before it aired, producers screened this episode in Harlan, Kentucky. Yost reveals, "That was the first time we saw it with an audience, and that was a lot of fun… to hear them gasp when Raylan got shot and cheer when Ava drove off." He wasn't worried about spoilers leaking, explaining, "Who lives and who dies? That's important for our show, but it was really more how we told the story than the actual mechanics of what happened. People enjoyed it enough that they didn't want to spoil it to the extent that it could be spoiled."