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One of Justified‘s best trademarks has been the FX drama’s brutal yet strangely beautiful, and often humorous, deaths.
“That’s Elmore Leonard] finding the humor and the absurdity in all of it,” star Walton Goggins told The Hollywood Reporter of the author’s influence on the series. “You stick that in a serialized television show, where you have the heart and the attachment to the people behind it, and it’s a strange soup.”
As the show prepares to say its final goodbye Tuesday, the cast and creator look back at some of the most memorable deaths of its six-season run.
Graham Yost (creator)
It’s Elmore [Leonard]’s world so they can be [great] deaths. There can be pathos, drama and emotion. But there can also be an odd sense of humor, and that’s often what we went for. The end of Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) at the end of season two where she poisoned herself, because all of her plans have turned to dust, that’s a big one. At the end of season three, it’s not really a death so much — the rule on Justified is if you don’t see the body zipped up in a body bag, he could be alive — it was Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough) getting his arm chopped off. That’s probably one of my favorite moments. And the sequence with Mikey (Jonathan Kowalsky) and Katherine (Mary Steenburgen) is maybe one of my favorites of the entire series.
Margo’s death, season two, was pretty epic. I just thought that whole run with the love she had for this little girl, the daughter she never had, was just beautiful. Things that I’ve been involved with, and people who have reached their demise at my hand, are things that stand out to me; Boyd actually hasn’t killed too many people. Devil’s (Kevin Rankin) death was so gut-wrenching. I thought the surprise of Johnny’s (David Meunier) death was a bit of a shock; it was a bit of a shock to me when I read it. Quarles’ death was pretty insane. I thought last year the 21-yard rule when AJ Buckley‘s Danny landed on that knife in the pit. I couldn’t believe that when I read it; that was crazy! The most violent for me — the hardest because of the feeling behind it — was Lee Paxton (Sam Anderson). He was just sitting there, and he says, “Small town never forget.” And [Boyd] just lays it out that I’m about to come there and put this gun, and there’s nothing you can do about it. And you’re going to be vilified as a person who commits suicide for the rest of your reputation in this community. It was horrible! I don’t know how many times Boyd and Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) could be sprayed with blood! (Laughs.) I mean, it’s the same shot. It’s always just the same shot! I think it’s happened three or four times. The death with the cigarettes?!
Joelle Carter (Ava)
I love when Ellen May (Abby Miller) came to me, and I got to blow away the pimp, because I think it was almost a flashback [of what she had to do] with her husband, and she got to defend this woman. [Ava] was just being awesome. (Laughs.) But Mags Bennett’s death was really poetic.
Margo Martindale poisoning a man in front of her was pretty astounding. And then being all sympathetic and being all, “Bless your heart.” I thought that was amazing.
My favorite Justified death got cut this year. There was an episode [“The Trash and the Snake”] with a snake and a lot of money. I forget why the money was there, or who the girl was a girlfriend of, but I had to go in and get the money. She was such a pain in the ass, that Boyd just said, “F— this, I can’t even deal with her.” And he left me to deal with her; he was going to shoot her, and I was going to be nice to her: “Just give me the money, and things will be OK. He’s gone, don’t worry about Boyd, just give me the money and get the snake out of my face, and we’ll be OK.” And she throws the money on the floor. And I’m about to even take that, and be like, “All right, all right.” And she goes, “There you go.” And I go to pick up the money, and she goes, “But you’re still an asshole.” And I shoot her right in the head. I just shot her right in the forehead for calling me an asshole. (Laughs.) And it was my favorite death. Her brains went all over the wall behind her. But it got cut! Hopefully it’ll end up on the DVD set. Because then, the snake, a huge boa constrictor, which was not supposed to do this … I reach down to pick up the money and the boa constrictor was already in the pile of money, so I had to move this huge snake with my hands. I was like, “That’s not yours, buddy.” I moved the snake out of the way, and I grabbed the money and walked out. That was my favorite death.
Justified‘s series finale airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. on FX. Which death was your favorite? Sound off in the comments below and stay tuned to The Live Feed after the episode for more from the Justified cast and creator.
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