'Justified's' Graham Yost on the Twist That Kicks Off the "Last Act" of the Series

'Justified' boss Graham Yost talks to THR about Ava's decision, betrayal revelations, and kicking off the final batch of episodes.
Prashant Gupta

[Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Justified's "Trust."]

The perilous Raylan (Timothy Olyphant)-Boyd (Walton Goggins)-Ava (Joelle Carter) "triangle" finally exploded during Tuesday's Justified.

Ava managed to keep things handled for a bit. First, she was Raylan's reluctant informant but then she pledged her loyalty to Boyd only to then turn around and attempt to help Raylan when she was discovered. Ultimately, she had enough. So when Boyd was able to steal Markham's (Sam Elliott) money (and Raylan warned Ava that her plea deal was in jeopardy), she offered Raylan a compromise: she'd get Boyd to admit to Dewey's (Damon Herriman) murder. Instead, when Boyd showed up, Ava shot him, took the cash and left a wounded Boyd with Raylan.

And that wasn't the only thing revealed during Tuesday's hour of the FX drama: Boyd took Katherine (Mary Steenburgen) hostage, and once he got Markham's cash, warned him that Katherine felt he was responsible for her late husband's death. Across town, meanwhile, Mike (Jonathan Kowalsky) figured out that it was Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) who ratted out Katherine's husband and knocked out Wynn before reaching out to Katherine to share the news.

To get a little insight into what went down — and what's coming next — The Hollywood Reporter turned to Justified boss Graham Yost to get the scoop about kicking off the "last act."

A lot of things came to a head in this hour. What kind of discussions were had about the timing of the episode, and how will the ramifications play out throughout the final three episodes?

When we were planning the whole season and breaking it out, the whole plan was to have Ava torn between Raylan and Boyd. And to have them have a blind spot, to a degree, which was, what about Ava? What does she want? It's sort of all what they want. We liked the idea at the end of the episode, Ava saying, "Yeah, I'm choosing me. I'm going to look after me. You've both put me in a situation that's untenable, so I'm going to try a different way." And we felt that would give us the last act of this season. So the last act of the season becomes, "Get Ava."

What is going through Raylan's mind as Ava shoots Boyd, and basically all of his plans are crumbling in front of him?

It's going to have a lot of ramifications in Raylan's life, which you'll see in the next episode, and through the rest of the series. I think that between Raylan and Boyd, Raylan has more of a sober view of life. I think he understands what Ava is doing and why. I think he realizes the horrible situation he put her in. He can always argue, "Well, I got her out of jail," but he knows she was in prison for no fault of her own. And you can see that in the episode — that he doesn't feel good about Vasquez (Rick Gomez) wanting to throw her back in jail. I think he still has affection for her on a deep level and on a not-so-deep level. "Oh, that's Ava from down the block." But I also think he's thinking, "Okay. Go run. I'm gonna catch you. So have it."

And Boyd, in many ways, was blinded by love. How will this betrayal against him -- something he can't explain away -- impact his actions going forward?

You'll see it from one of the early scenes in the next episode. This is, in many ways, the hardest thing Boyd has ever faced. We've always wondered with Boyd, how much did he love her, and how much was he talking himself into playing a part, in a way. And we'll dig into that in the last run.

Read more 'Justified' Postmortem: Walton Goggins on the Fallout From Boyd's "Devastating" Blow

How are the marshals reacting Ava's betrayal?

She immediate becomes fugitive number one. [Which is also the title of the next episode.]

Outside of that dynamic, Markham now knows that Katherine suspected him of being the one to rat out her husband. She's safe, for now, but how does their relationship change?

Next episode is a very big episode in their relationship. Which is about all I'll tease on that. As much as big things happen in this episode, really big things happen in the next episode.

And how will Mike now knowing that Wynn Duffy was the really the mole -- and Mike, essentially, kidnapping him -- intersect with their storyline?

That's also a big part of the next episode…we go hard at the Mike and Duffy story in the next episode.

Read more 'Justified's' Mary Steenburgen on Katherine's Cat and Mouse Game With Ava

One of the new faces in the past few episodes has been Markham's ally, Boon (Jonathan Tucker). And though he's been privately deadly, he's also been causing quite the spectacle in public, like when he harassed and threatened a diner server and a customer. How much thought is he putting into his actions getting the wrong kind of attention?

It doesn't even cross his mind. He feels he can get away with anything. He is, really, one of the -- we hope -- quintessential Elmore Leonard bad guys, who is incredibly charismatic and captivating, but incredibly dangerous.

Given all the dangers on the show, where would you rank Boon right now?

Right up there. The development of Boon came from the fact that we knew we could get Garret Dillahunt as Markham's right-hand man for only a certain number of episodes before he had to go back to his other job. We knew we needed to bring in someone new for Markham to work with, and we decided to go up a level in terms of craziness and danger. So he brings with him a very strong sense of lethality.

Justified airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX. What did you think of Ava's betrayal?

Twitter: @marisaroffman

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