Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
UPDATED, 3 PM: There were plenty of plot and story questions about what’s in store for the sprawling ensemble of characters on the FX series Justified at today’s TCA. A few tidbits from EP Graham Yost: “You will see the Harris brothers again. I’m not going to tell you who you’re not going to see again.” The current fifth season will be a big season for the character of Art Mullen (Nick Searcy). In Season 6, expect more on the relationship of Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) and Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts).
But two questions loomed larger: A) Why will the sixth season be the last? and B) What life is like without the late Elmore Leonard, on whose writings the series is based?
First, the final season: “A lot of it was just figuring out how much story we had left,” Yost said. “Our biggest concern telling these stories is that we don’t run out of story and start repeating ourselves. Although there were financial incentives to keep it going, it really felt in terms of the story of Raylon Givens in Kentucky, that six years felt about right.”
And life without Leonard: Even before the writer’s death in August, Yost said the team tried to make every episode a tribute to Leonard. Yost added that the series’ shooting schedule included scenes in Florida and Detroit, two of Leonard’s favorite settings. “We thought, ‘Elmore is going to get a big kick out of this,” and then he died,” Yost said. Before the panel began, FX announced that a tribute to Leonard will be held on January 21 at the New Roads School in Santa Monica and will include many members of the cast and crew.
Walton Goggins , who co-stars as Boyd Crowder on Justified, told a touching story about Leonard’s chair on the set, which remained in place after his death. “Seeing it hit me like walking into a glass door.” One day, feeling particularly tired and frustrated trying to get a scene right, Goggins recalled, “I just said, ‘Fuck it, I’m going to sit down in your chair, Elmore’. It was very spiritual and comforting.”
Episode 2 of the show’s fifth season premieres tonight.