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[Warning: This post contains spoilers from Justified’s series finale.]
Justified ended its six-season run on a high note Tuesday when Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) finally managed to take down Boyd (Walton Goggins). Though Raylan’s decision to put Boyd in jail instead of killing him, the end defied the expectations of many.
With the final hour delivering a time-jump, new betrayals, a pregnancy shocker and emotional closure, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with the cast of the FX drama to discuss where their characters ended up. (To see what Justified boss Graham Yost had to say about the series finale, click here.)
The main trio survived.
Although Justified had used the song “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” throughout the course of the series, somehow, the show’s main trio — Raylan, Boyd and Ava (Joelle Carter) — managed to survive. But that nearly wasn’t the case after Boyd tried to get Raylan to shoot him, unprovoked.
“[If] he raises the gun, I’ll kill him,” Olyphant relayed of his character’s mindset during that pivotal moment. “[Since] he doesn’t, f— it, he’ll go to jail.”
For Goggins, the ending provided yet the latest opportunity for Boyd to change.
“We had been talking about it for some time, and I knew that [Boyd winding up in jail was how] Graham was leaning,” Goggins said. “What surprised me is how free Boyd became through incarceration. For a guy like that, he needed to take a step back and have someone else take control. He needed to be on someone’s schedule to get out of the violent loop of living up to his father’s legacy. The information he received from Ava in their last scene, when she says she did what she thought he would do, is the most sobering thing he’s ever heard in his life. It’s there that he turns around and asks Raylan to end his life. But Raylan decides not to, because he is not the angriest man in the world, [so] Boyd gets the opportunity to truly change.”
Although Yost indicated that Boyd’s change might only been temporary, Goggins believes this time, it will stick.
“I think he’s permanently changed,” Goggins said. “You see [in that time jump] a guy so far behind the lie he had been living. He’s a guy from the wrong side of the tracks, who tried to break out in whatever way he could break out. And for him, in the last few seasons, violence and crime was a means to an end. And that [dream] end was to have a domestic life. He didn’t get it.”
As for Ava, despite her appearing to be in the most danger going into the final hour as Markham’s (Sam Elliott) kidnapping victim: “I knew from the beginning [she’d survive], and I was crossing my fingers that it would end up that way,” Carter shared. “There were a few times I wasn’t sure what would happen.”
But not everyone was lucky enough to survive.
One of the few fatalities in the Justified series finale was Boon (Jonathan Tucker), who saw Raylan taking Ava into custody and driving away with her and opted to pursue them by car — then challenging Raylan to a gun duel. Although Boon managed to get a shot in, he only managed a flesh wound, whereas Raylan fatally wounded Markham’s right-hand man.
“I was indeed hoping to take down Raylan Givens, but as a fan of the show — and for fans of the show — we all know there are fast guns in Harlan county, and then there’s the fastest gun in Harlan county,” Tucker acknowledged. “The fastest gun doesn’t belong to anybody but Timothy Olyphant. I, of course, was open to popping him off the show — that’d be a pretty awesome way to go — but to be honest, just getting to be a part of this [series] and ending up in that final episode is just a thrill.”
The one thing Raylan did lose during the tussle? His signature hat, which led to the introduction of a one that was a bit more Elmore Leonard-friendly. “I liked that idea,” Olyphant cracked.
Ava’s a mom.
Immediately after Boon’s death, Ava used the distraction to steal Raylan’s car. When Raylan tracked her down in California four years later, Ava revealed part of the reason why she fled: she had been pregnant with Boyd’s son, Zachariah, whom she was now raising solo.
“They pitched that that was going to happen, but then they weren’t sure they would do that along the way,” Carter said. “I kind of always knew, but I knew I couldn’t say anything to anybody. It’s a huge motivating fact for her to get out the way she did. And maybe betray love.”
“Motherhood changes you a lot; you don’t think about yourself as much,” she continued. “It makes you stronger, more present. It makes you really enjoy life in the moment. And especially for her, knowing it could end at any moment, that one of the two might find her, I think she was really trying to enjoy those four years. And then Raylan brought her a lot of relief in the end.”
Although Olyphant acknowledged that Raylan did originally intend to bring Ava in (“I assume that’s what I was there for!”), Raylan ended up giving her a free pass. And he took things one step further when he went to visit Boyd in prison and lied to him that Ava died.
“I don’t know if Raylan shared with her what he was going to do, but I think she’ll always carry a certain amount of fear,” Carter said. “She’ll rest a little easier knowing Raylan is letting her go, but still not completely safe.”
Goggins, meanwhile, saw the final scene as a way to acknowledge Boyd’s true feelings for Ava.
“I don’t think he has a choice [but to believe him that Ava is dead],” Goggins said. “What Raylan gives him in that final scene is what he always wanted from Raylan. First and foremost, it was the acknowledgment that Boyd did, indeed, love Ava. It was a genuine emotion. And second, that our friendship far surpassed any adversarial relationship it had turned into. That our shared struggle really meant something. That just filled him up, and it was a beautiful thing.”
While Boyd and Ava didn’t get the happily ever after they desired, Carter reiterated there was a genuine love between the duo. “It was a true love story,” she said. “They are certain kinds of people, and they’re violent and from a certain place. They loved the best they could.”
Filming the final Raylan and Boyd scene.
Yost called the process of filming the series-ending Boyd and Raylan scene at the prison “very emotional.” Compounding the matter was the fact that it was shot on the final day of production, and was the final scene Olyphant and Goggins would film together.
“To say it was hard to hold it together is a gross understatement,” Goggins said. “Everything we experienced over the course of the six years was right there; it was present. It was in the room. If you listen to the words, the key to their entire relationship is revealed within that conversation. It answered all the questions I needed for Boyd Crowder to have answered. After it was over and they yelled cut, there were copious amounts of tears, and a real shedding of weight and a simultaneous, ‘Please, let me have one more take. Don’t close the door.’ It’s something that’s so rare in one’s career that you get to feel that moment, and not just joyously, but desperately. But eventually the lights are turned on, and people walk off the stage, and then there it is. It just lives on in your imagination.”
Added Olyphant: “It’s a bit of a cliché, but bittersweet is the word that comes to mind. It’s a good scene, I liked it. [Filming the finale] was a fun week. It was a sad week. But the scenes were good, the actors were good.”
Where are Tim (Jacob Pitts) and Art (Nick Searcy) in the future?
While Yost shed light on Rachel’s future — she became a Seattle marshal — what became of Art and Tim was a little less clear.
Pitts admitted he hoped for an epic death scene in the final season. “I think every actor at the beginning of the season asked the writers to kill them,” he said. “Because every actor wants everyone to be thinking of their sad, angelic body for five minutes. But I’m [also] fine with not dying!” But because Tim survived, the events of the past six seasons will stick with him, indefinitely.
“I do think that despite their interaction and lack of affection in the last meeting, Tim Gutterson will probably be thinking about Raylan Givens his whole life,” Pitts said.
Meanwhile, Searcy joked that Justified had prime spinoff material with Art becoming a Wal-Mart greeter. But in all seriousness, he noted that Art was probably still working in the marshal’s office.
“He’s learned a lot about management and how dangerous Raylan was,” he noted. “He underestimated him at first … [but] in the end, it turned out OK. Art’s one of those guys who is going to hang on as long as he can. He still enjoys his job. I was joking with the writers that when Art got shot, I think it just made him mad.”
What did you think of the Justified finale?
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