TV Review: ‘Justified’ Saddles Up For Sixth and Final Season

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Justified’ EP on the End of the Series: “We Didn’t Want to Outstay Our Welcome”.

Reflecting on the first five seasons of “Justified” on the eve of its sixth and last, which starts this Tuesday at 10 p.m. on FX, Yost cheerfully explains the genesis of the gesture.The final season of FX’s kicks off Tuesday and the show’s impending swan song was a hot topic during the drama’s final stop in front of the Television Critics Association. “We started talking about [when to end the series] in season four, and just felt like this chapter of Raylan’s (Olyphant) life was about Raylan and Boyd (Walton Goggins),” exec producer Graham Yost acknowledged. “And that was basically it. The new threat, played by Sam Elliott, doesn’t even really present itself until the third episode, with another fine addition, Garret Dillahunt, as his vaguely threatening surrogate.

Still, that’s emblematic of the laconic charm that has characterized this Elmore Leonard adaptation throughout its run, with Timothy Olyphant’s modern cowboy becoming one of FX’s unsung heroes. Although the program isn’t as showy or heralded as the network’s other dramas, its sixth-season start reinforces a sense that “Justified” will be sorely missed when it rides into the sunset. It’s been wonderful to be able to see the finish line and enjoy it.” But what that finish line is remains up in the air. “We don’t have the ending, yet,” Yost admitted. “We don’t have the ending.

As season five made clear, the home stretch is shaping up to be an inevitable showdown between Olyphant’s U.S. marshal, Raylan Givens, and boyhood pal-turned-criminal Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), with Boyd’s wife and Raylan’s one-time fling, Ava (Joelle Carter), uncomfortably caught in the middle. In that sense, it’s an artful and appropriate way of circling back to where this rodeo began, made all the saucier by the drama that has unfolded in the interim. A lot of fans felt a little of the same sentiment, though they weren’t as demonstrative, when Yost and Olyphant said last year they would end “Justified” after season six. “They were asking if we could do extra episodes so we could split some off for one more season,” said Yost. “But Tim and I talked about it and we kept coming back to the question, ‘Do we have enough story?’ Olyphant telegraphed that message at the start of season five, when he said, “You want to stop before you’re repeating yourself. As always, though, that’s just the main event in a series teeming with colorful and quirky characters, with Elliott — an old hand at cowboy parts — a perfect choice as a soft-spoken bad man who gives off an air of menace, and Mary Steenburgen harboring mysterious motives in pushing Boyd into robbing banks.

That doesn’t mean we haven’t been thinking about the ending. [The whole team] has been talking about the ending.” “[Elmore Leonard] would just start writing, and if he didn’t like where it was going, he’d throw out the pages,” Yost told reporters Sunday. “You can’t do that on a television show, except to a degree that when you’re going toward the ending, we have a certain amount of flexibility. While she spent much of the show in a relationship with Boyd, she was sympathetic to Raylan as well. “We’ve written 11 of the 13,” he said earlier this week. “We tend to approach it the same way Elmore approached his books. We’re going to have to do it in the next few weeks, but we absolutely don’t know exactly how this is going to end.” If Raylan does survive through his final battle with Boyd, Olyphant has a very specific idea for where he thinks his character will ultimately end up: “On FX.” “Timothy has been pitching for a long time that Raylan goes out to Hollywood and becomes a technical adviser for a Western show [like they have on Justified],” Yost explained. “If [Raylan] survives.” There’s an added sense of urgency as Raylan looks to settle his score with Boyd before leaving to live with his wife (Natalie Zea) and baby daughter. There’s also an underlying sense that Raylan’s cockiness might catch up with him, especially now, with the question of whether concern about family changes someone in his line of work.

Perhaps foremost, “Justified” has consistently been one of the more disarmingly funny hours on TV, as illustrated by a scene when Raylan interrupts a married man in the midst of a dalliance with a prostitute. When the lawman jokingly pretends to mistake the woman for the man’s wife, the hooker gets the punch line: “Ew, gross.” The series also revels in a slice of Southern life (actually, more like low-life) newly popular in reality-TV circles, but where few dramas dare to tread. There likely will be a few more this season. “In the first season we were finding ourselves,” says Yost. “Although there were some really terrific episodes. ‘The Dentist’ still may be my favorite episode on the show.” The second season was Mags, and he also likes season three for its guest stars, Neal McDonough as evil Robert Quarles and Mykelti Williamson as the enigmatic Ellstin Limehouse.

Executive producers, Graham Yost, Carl Beverly, Sarah Timberman, Michael Dinner, Fred Golan, Dave Andron, Don Kurt, Taylor Elmore, Timothy Olyphant, Elmore Leonard; co-executive producers, Ben Cavell, Chris Provenzano; supervising producer, Ingrid Escajeda; producers, VJ Boyd, John Vohlers; director, Dinner; writers, Dinner, Golan, Provenzano; camera, Stefan Von Bjorn, Attila Szalay; production designer, Jonathan Carlson; casting, Cami Patton, Christal Karge. 60 MIN. Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins, Nick Searcy, Jacob Pitts, Erica Tazel, Joelle Carter, Jere Burns, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen, Garret Dillahunt, Natalie Zea, Damon Herriman Leonard actively promoted the show while alive, and he said that of all the actors who have portrayed his characters in various productions, Olyphant’s Raylan came the closest to what he envisioned on paper. “I think Elmore liked the show,” says Yost. “He was the kind of guy who, if he didn’t, would have said so. The last scene he ever wrote, just before he had his stroke, was between Arlo and Raylan.” Yost himself, who previously worked on significant TV projects like “Earth to the Moon” and “Band of Brothers,” says it’s a little hard while working on a show to imagine where it will ultimately settle in history.

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