Justified Spoiler Alert: Something Really Big Is About to Go Down in Harlan County

It’s a good time to be a Justified fan. Not only has the FX drama just been renewed for a third season, but its second is currently firing on all cylinders. In fact, I’ve seen the next two episodes (Wednesdays 10/9c), and I can tell you it only gets better. As I teased in Ask Ausiello, covering up his ex’s get-rich-quick scheme takes a psychological toll on our swaggertastic hero and throws him off his game. How far off his game? Let’s ask exec producer Graham Yost, who’s here to discuss this week’s episode, next week’s “Act Two” climax and a season finale that’s sure to be explosive.

TVLINE | The next two episodes showcase a Raylan we’ve never seen before — one who’s defeated, broken, vulnerable.
One of the goals from the beginning of the season is we wanted to really test Raylan’s relationship with his Marshal family. He doesn’t have, obviously, a great relationship with his real father. Art, if anything, is the good father. And we wanted to strain that relationship and put that on the rocks. And you’ll see what comes of that in our final episodes of the season. It will be difficult for a chief deputy to have someone like Raylan under him. There’s a line an episode 10 where Art says, “You’re a bad Marshal but you’re a good lawman.” That sums up Raylan.

TVLINE | Without giving too much away, Raylan gets the s— beat out of him in this week’s episode. That was tough to watch.
We felt we wanted to strip him down and sort of get to the essentials of who he is and what choices he makes, and that stuff also plays out to a degree in Episode 11 [on April 20]. There’s something that happens in Episode 10 [on April 13] and then plays out in 11. There’s a nice surprise with how he responds to a situation. And then there’s a big, big thing in Episode 12 on [April 27], and then the ramifications of that play out in our season finale.

TVLINE | Has irreparable harm been done to his relationship with Winona? It’s obvious he resents her for dragging him into the whole cash-stealing fiasco.
Their relationship is tested. You’ll find that there’s a certain resolve of that in Episode 10. It forces him to realize something about himself and about her. And, spoiler alert, it’s not a bad thing. There’s a line where he says, “I didn’t help you out of that jam because I’m the son of a criminal or because I’m a criminal myself. I did it because I love you.”

TVLINE | The Bennett plot comes to a big climax next week. I’m guessing that’s not the end of that story?
No. I was talking to [FX president] John Landgraf about this. He saw the season in three acts. We set up the stuff with the Bennetts and it reaches a certain point in the fourth episode, where Raylan and Mags finally have that confrontation outside of her house. And then next week is the climax of Act 2. There are echoes of the past in there, between the Bennets and the Givens — but how will it play out? Will it be the same as its always been, or will it be different this time? It’s a guiding principle in Elmore Leonard’s writing, which is, People might want to change, but they end up doing the same thing again and again. And what we wanted to show in our series is that Raylan can change, but boy oh boy it’s incremental.

TVLINE | Margo Martindale has been simply amazing as Mags. Creepy. Funny. Sympathetic. Has her performance surprised you?
I wouldn’t say it’s a revelation, in that she has a long and illustrious career. But there was just something about her in this role. And if you’ve ever met Margo, she is by no means Mags Bennett. It became a self-propagating situation in that she did such a great job in the first episode that we [decided] we needed to have more Mags Bennett. And the same goes for the boys, too. Joe Taylor as Doyle, Brad Henke as Coover, and Jeremy Davies as Dickie. They’re all fantastic.

TVLINE | Will the season end with a cliffhanger?
There are a few big questions left up in the air, both in Raylan’s personal life and his professional life. This season was about two things, the first being second chances. Raylan gets a second chance with his wife and Boyd gets a second chance at not being a criminal. But the season was also about this feud. It’s a big part of the culture in Appalachia. So we wanted to play out the feud between the Bennet clan and the Givens clan, and that does resolve itself in the finale.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Robert McGrath says:

    Great show, glad to see it’s been renewed… Great characters and well worth watching every week…

  2. Tiffany-Liana says:

    Ausiello, your Justified coverage…The Bestest. I’m excited to see what the writers of Justified have in store for us the rest of this season. Each episode has gotten more and more intense.

  3. Marsha says:

    I cannot thank you enough for this wonderful spoiler/ interview. Justified is my absolutely favorite show and TV right now but the spoilers are often few and far in between, so this story is very much appreciated. Sounds like Justified will be heating up even more than it already is. After last week’s anxiety-ridden episode with Raylan trying to put the counterfeit cash back, I don’t know how much more nail biting episodes I can handle without spontaneously combust. However, wild horses wouldn’t stop me from still watching. Cannot wait for the scene when Raylan tells Winona that he loves her. I truly hopes that she returns the sentiment because after how he compromised himself and his morals for her, I don’t know what more she could want to hear. If she took a look at what her idiot current husband Gary is doing versus what Raylan has done then she would immediately realize that Raylan is the man for her. Gary is a stupid dreamer who will sooner get her killed, while Raylan lives to protect. Besides Raylan is supersexy! Please don’t break Raylan’s heart Winona. And I hope that the season does not end without Loretta being removed from Mags Bennett’s care. She’s way to smart and bright to be selling drugs.

  4. Terri says:

    I think I may be one of the few who’s not invested in the Winona romance. Mostly because I think they have great chemistry but I don’t like her character at all this season. What does it say about a woman who cheated on him to be with Gary and then cheated on Gary to be with him? It’s always been obvious that he loves and cares about her; but it’s never been obvious why they chose to go back to the well and mine that relationship to have a happy ending (it sounds happy at least here). I find it interesting that Winona is very flawed and selfish-that’s at least how she’s portrayed to me. But I need a better romantic foil for Raylan and I don’t see it with Winona; I didn’t see it as much with Ava either mostly because she was so fawning over him. There needs to be more tension, and more on his side. I don’t know but I trust the writers and am sure wherever they are taking this will be satisfying.

    • RP says:

      This is insightful. I dislike Winona because she makes Raylan weaker. They have chemistry, but they’re not good for each other- it feels mostly like it’s based on history, and not on what makes sense or is right for them now.

      I like Ava, but it’s a good point that it’s not at all an equal relationship. Ava + Boyd are fantastic, I’d like to see Winona leave and find someone better for Raylan in the future. He definitely deserves it.

  5. Kat says:

    Thanks for the coverage Ausiello. This site just keeps giving, hope you are so proud of it.
    This is by far the show I am happiest about right now. It’s the only show I am super excited to see every week. It has really been stressing me out, so that’s a good thing. It’s a great cast of characters to love, hate and never be able to quite decide about for a few. Love the behind the scenes look. I was going to make a joke about looking behind Raylan’s scenes, but that might undermine my true appreciation of the quality of the show. Also- I thought it might just be understood among fans?

  6. jax1341 says:

    I have all the episodes on DVR and just watched 4 this past weekend. Of course Raylan is great but so far I’m LOVING Boyd. Walter Goggins does so much without words and I can’t wait to see what’s next. I’m not a Winona fan so the spoiler above is a bummer. I liked the Raylan and Ava vibe, but if that’s over I hope they bring a new character on who could rattle Raylan right out of his boots! Great Writing, Great Cast – kinda takes the sting out of No More Friday Night Lights!

  7. luke says:


  8. Kate says:

    Very nice interview, Count me in as one of those people hoping Raylan and Winona can work it out! The end of this season sounds spectacular.

    • joy says:

      me too! I dont know why there is so much hate for winona but consider me as one of the minorities that love the dynamic of raylan and winona. when raylan is with winona we are able to see another side of raylan. which makes the show more interesting.

  9. Moname91 says:

    Wow….I just love this show and all of the characters even the guest stars are awesome and so talented! Although I am disappointed by Winona’s actions, I love her and Raylan together! It may just be because I know she is Raylan’s first love and isn’t there always something difficult to get over with your first love?

  10. Lisa says:

    Wow it’s good to fall asleep on the couch with Justified replaying on TV all night. Went to bed at 2am and spent the rest of the night/morning dreaming about Raylan, whiskey, and guns. Hot! Hot! Hot!

  11. Lynn L. says:

    This is by far, the best show on television.
    Actors, plot, everything that makes up this show is the best of any show I’ve ever seen.
    So wonderful that it’s coming back for a third season, I can’t get enough of it.

  12. LC says:

    I’m still pretty excited for the upcoming episode (4/6)– even though– I read an article that I though was a preview for Brother’s Keeper and whoever wrote this, literally detailed the WHOLE episode! So even thought I’m pretty sure I know EXACTLY what happens, I’m still tuning it. Really awesome show!

  13. Becky says:

    Inevitabley one of the finest television programs of the history of mankind.
    Fond of Raylan and Winona. They should weather the storm of life together.
    Fond of Boyd and Ava, as well.
    All of these four and et al, are forces to be reconked with. They are fighters, and they mess up alot, but you have to love them, for they’re human beings.