Before he started work on Season 4 of “Justified,” executive producer Graham Yost heard a bunch of questions about who would be this season’s Big Bad. So many, he says, that it prompted him to take the show in a different direction.
“Just the way they said that, in that kind of tired, we-know-what-to-expect way — I thought, OK, we’re not going to do that this year,” Yost said in a recent interview. “It was a conscious attempt to mix it up.”
Rather than dealing with a new adversary this season, Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is delving into a 30-year-old case (inspired by the “Bluegrass Conspiracy” case in the mid-1980s) involving a fugitive, a bunch of missing drug money and quite possibly his own family. The case has also drawn Raylan’s boss, Art (Nick Searcy), out into the field.
“He has sort of a personal connection to [the mystery],” Searcy says. “And, you know, I think the getting out behind the desk thing, I think Art, like most people who get to my age, every once in a while they still want to prove themselves, prove that they still can do what they used to do. Whether they can or not is a big question. But I think that’s some of the motivation, is to show it’s not over yet.”
The mystery deepens in Tuesday’s (Jan. 22) episode, “Truth and Consequences.” When Raylan and Tim (Jacob Pitts) track down fugitive Drew Thompson’s ex-wife (guest star Julia Campbell), they discover they’re not the only ones looking for the presumed-dead man.
Yost says structuring the season around a mystery has made for a few headaches in the “Justified” writers’ room.
“It has been a problem to figure out the puzzle, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job,” he says. “We knew we needed to piece it out and let there be — I mean, if you’ve watched the show, we try to do episodes a little more standalone at the first part of the season and then get into the big story for the second half or the last two thirds. So it was sort of parsing out the bits of the mystery for the first four episodes, and by the fifth episode, everything is pretty much focused on that.”
The mystery will be solved by episode 9, Yost says. “But then there are problems that come from the solving of it, and that plays out for the rest of the season.”
“Justified” airs at 10 p.m. ET Tuesdays on FX.