(Watch the Television Academy panel "An Evening With Justified" in full above.)
We're down to three episodes left in the fifth season of "Justified" — the show's penultimate season — and that had the cast and producers talking about season finales and final season storylines at Wednesday's TV Academy "Justified" panel.
Will Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) get the comeuppance some viewers feels he deserves? Will Ava (Joelle Carter) get out of prison before the end of this season? Will Boyd's (Walton Goggins) livin'-on-the-edge lifestyle allow him to even make it to next season alive?
Answers to those questions were among the highlights of the Academy panel, along with scoop on which cast member was nearly killed off — not once, not twice, but three times, and still lives (for now, anyway) to tell the tale.
1. Panel moderator Tom O'Neil, Hollywood awards expert and founder of GoldDerby.com, asked why rules-flouting U.S. marshal Raylan Givens doesn't seem to get comeuppance for, well, his rules flouting. "Justified" executive producer Dave Andron suggested he does, like when boss Art (Nick Searcy) punched Raylan in a bar earlier this season, but executive producer Fred Golan suggested it may get even worse for Raylan. "We're not done," he said. "We have another season."
2. Golan also shared how committed the entire cast and crew and writing staff were to capturing and maintaining the voice of the late Elmore Leonard, on whose characters "Justified" is based, for the show. Golan says in the first couple of seasons, the writers' room had an unofficial Elmore Leonard lending library where everyone brushed up on the very specific, rich, and layered writing, and especially dialogue, of the great novelist.
3. One of Joelle Carter's favorite "Justified" scenes was one that ended with a ring... and a box of cash, i.e. the scene in which Boyd proposed to her in Season 4. "What woman doesn't want to be engaged to over a box of cash?" she joked. "You get the ring and you get the security at the same time."
4. Which cast member is just too good, his character just too fun, to be killed off? Jere Burns's Wynn Duffy, who was scheduled to be killed off not once, not twice, but three times, the actor said. The second time, he was saved specifically by a request from star Olyphant, whose Raylan was supposed to kill him in Season 2, but decided on the day they were to film the death scene that Burns was too valuable to get rid of.
5. As Season 5's darker tone suggests, the season won't end in a happy place. Said Olyphant about Raylan, Boyd, and Ava: "Those three people, at the end of this season, they're all in big trouble."
6. Carter confirms Ava will get out of jail by the end of the season, but that's certainly not the whole story. As producer Andron said of the show's philosophy, "The thing is to get to the expected place in an unexpected way."
7. Olyphant's wish for the sixth, and final, season of the show? "I want to see it slow down," he said. And "in the end, it has to come down to Ava and Boyd and Raylan" and their families. As celebrated a run of guest stars as the show has had, and continues to have, the Emmy nominee says "Justified" should get back to the core three characters for Season 6.
8. That darkly funny death scene for Danny Crowe (A.J. Buckley) in this week's episode, "Weight"? "F--ker fell into a hole and killed himself" was Olyphant's pithy take on the scene, in which Danny came charging at Raylan with a knife in the dark, only to fall into a hole in the ground and accidentally stab himself to death. Watch around the 48:00 mark of the clip above to see Olyphant's delight in talking about filming the scene.
9. More of the "Justified" gang's love for Elmore Leonard: The first time the author visited the set, he ate lunch in the writers' room and drank a Diet 7-Up with his meal. Someone saved the empty can, glued it to a plate, and it became the "award" passed around weekly to the writer who best captures Leonard's voice in the script.
10. One audience member noticed that the writers seem to have a love of specific brands of bourbon, which they have mentioned repeatedly throughout the series. Olyphant pointed out that that can often lead to freebies.
11. Still more Leonard love: Olyphant confirmed Leonard wasn't such a fan of the hat the actor chose to serve as Raylan's ever-present topper. While taking photos with Olyphant during a set visit, Leonard told him, "Don't feel like you have to wear the hat... even on the show. Maybe a gust of wind comes up."
"That's when I knew I liked him," Olyphant said, adding, "Every now and then, I keep thinking, maybe the hat's gonna get shot before I do," and Raylan will go get a new one.
"Justified" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.