Last we saw, Justified‘s normally cool-as-all-get-out Raylan was left reeling from the con job pulled over on him by his latest conquest, Lindsey. But this Tuesday (FX, 10/9c), the Southern-fried marshal will (briefly) put that all behind him for a long-overdue reunion with his MIA baby mama Winona — who, let’s be honest, is the real reason Raylan’s been so moody and broody this season.
Here, Natalie Zea — who can currently be seen on Fox’s The Following — discusses with TVLine her character’s “puzzling” return to the Justified scene, when she may return and what she sees as the endgame for Harlan County’s on-again, off-again “soulmates.”
TVLINE | What brings Winona back into the picture?
I have no idea. [Laughs] For me, this was a free trip home to Los Angeles and I got to hang out with all of my colleagues on Justified, so it was really great. I’m hoping there’s a bigger picture purpose [to her return]. And I’ll say that it’s… puzzling. I’m going to trust that there’s a real good reason for it, though.
TVLINE | Last week left Raylan in a pretty vulnerable place. Did you know where things stood, plot-wise, when you returned?
I didn’t know anything when I shot this stuff. I don’t even know what’s going on in that episode.
TVLINE | Yeah, he’s not feeling too hot at the moment. Should we be concerned about where this reunion will leave him?
Awww, bless his heart… I love that I didn’t know all of that going into it because Winona doesn’t know all of that. She’s very sheltered from his life outside of whatever interactions they may have. Now that you’ve told me that, I think it worked rather well. [Laughs] It worked especially well for the character. She’s in the dark — and she’s got other things on her mind right now. She picks up a little bit that something is maybe not right, but it doesn’t go too far below the surface.
TVLINE | Since for now you’re only back for this episode, I imagine we won’t get too much backstory on what Winona’s been up to?
Nope! [Laughs] The baby bump is bigger. They say [she's about] 7 1/2 months along.
TVLINE | And Graham Yost has said she won’t have this baby this season!
[Laughs] Oh God! When is this going to end?! That baby needs to get out of the belly at some point. [Laughs] But I guess in the Justified world a season is only a few weeks-to-months long anyway, so I could do this all my life, I suppose.
TVLINE | What has time away from Raylan and Harlan County done for Winona?
I think she’s taking care of herself. She really wants him to be a part of this, and obviously he wants to be a part of it. So, they’re just being very delicate with each other. A lot of it’s on the surface — “We’re all good and well. Everything’s fine.” And they’re not really saying what they’re thinking or feeling; they’re just trying to keep the peace. They’re in as good a place as they can be.
TVLINE | And you’ll likely be back on Justified again this season, should scheduling permit. Any movement on that front?
We’re in the middle of a bit of a chaotic situation with that — we’re really trying. Really, really trying. And I will jump through whatever hoops that I need to jump through to get back there. It’s very important for me to maintain a presence in that world. It would be weird if she didn’t pop up every once in awhile. So, I’m working hard to get back over there.
TVLINE | Your new series The Following aside, do you believe that when all is said and done, Winona will ultimately be by Raylan’s side?
I think in some shape or form, they will always be together. Whether that means they’re physically part of some exclusive union, I don’t know. That obviously hasn’t worked well for them. But there has been talk of them being soulmates, and I see it — I will drink that Kool-Aid for sure. [Laughs] It is so romantic and it’s destiny and all of those purple words. You know, even if it’s not happily ever after, I think that the best outcome for the two of them would be to find peace with each other.