[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Tuesday's episode of Justified. Read at your own risk.]
Remind us to never go hunting with Justified's Boyd Crowder.
On Tuesday's episode of the FX drama, Boyd (Walton Goggins) organized an impromptu getaway for himself and his fiance Ava (Joelle Carter) at his father's hunting cabin. But because of the context — Boyd had just learned that Ava recently tried to run away from Harlan — and because of Boyd's recent execution of longtime pal (and suspected rat) Dewey Crowe, it was hard not to think that Boyd might return from this trip alone.
After toying with Ava (and the audience) for much of the episode, Boyd finally confronted Ava, who spilled her guts about working as an informant for Raylan (Timothy Olyphant). But rather than putting a bullet in Ava's head, Boyd — insane with jealousy about Ava's possible feelings for Raylan --asked Ava to confirm her love for him. When she did, Boyd spared her life and vowed to figure a way out of the mess Ava has created so they can still have their happily ever after.
But is that really possible? TVGuide.com chatted with Goggins about Boyd's love-fueled blind spot, his jealousy of Raylan and just how much Boyd truly trusts Ava at this point. Plus: What might be Boyd's biggest fatal flaw?
Were you surprised that Boyd finds out the truth so early in the season?
Walton Goggins: I knew how things were going to play out, the general broad strokes, from the very beginning [of the season]. I didn't know that it was going to happen this soon and I didn't really have an objection on that. I, as an audience member, was tired of seeing Boyd in the dark.
Going back to that last episode, what was Boyd's exact reaction to what Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) told him?
Goggins: He was just floored. He was taken by utter surprise.I think he kind of moved past his own suspicions about Ava and what her motivations may be... once she opened up and became more intimate with him. So, I think he did not see that coming in any way whatsoever.
But he doesn't immediately fly off the handle. Why not?
Goggins: What he's setting out to do is process his emotions privately while ascertaining as much information as he possibly can. He's privately reviewing the specific details of their relationship. One of the greatest lines I feel Boyd has ever had — as an indication of who he is as a person — is when he says to Ava, "Have I ever done anything to hurt you? Have I ever mistreated you in any way?" He just wanted to hear the answer to that question. He's just barely holding on. He's in such a painful place that he is barely able to contain his own emotions. It's psychological warfare, really. He is going through it and is not sparing her his own pain.
It is a psychological roller coaster. When things do get a little violent, then they sleep together. Is he just trying to push her off her game?
Goggins: I think he's trying to keep her off her game, but I think he's also pushing away the revelation of the inevitable and how painful that is. He's just wanting to share his pain with somebody, with her, and delaying the pitfall that is ultimately going to come from Ava's admission.It's a very complicated, emotional dance, and that's exactly what we wanted it to be. The writers put these two people in this pressure cooker [and we thought], "How would they experience this conflict? What is the progression of that? Is it physical?"
And indeed it does get physical.
Goggins: She needs to hit something. She wants to hit something. She's been up against it for so long so that when Boyd says, "You want to hit me, don't you?"... she does it. And there's relief in that for that character.
When Boyd grabs Ava by the throat, could he have killed her then? Or was that more of his mind games?
Goggins: Boyd's like, "If you knew what's happening inside of me right now, if you could look deeply into my eyes and see it..." And maybe she does when she reaches up and kisses me. But I have to believe that it's out of love that she does that. It's out of a need to feel close to something.
It's incredibly tense because we know, as with Dewey Crowe, Boyd is capable of killing those he believes have betrayed him.
Goggins: Hopefully [the audience] willl think that Boyd is going to kill her. Why wouldn't he? But what they see is how deeply this man loves this woman. If this love isn't real, then nothing in his life is real. The stakes are so high for him that if he doesn't have this he has nothing. What's to prevent him from putting a bullet in his own head? I don't think that he would kill Ava and walk away. I think he would kill Ava and kill himself if anything because there is nothing else that life has to offer that he wants or would have the capability of believing in again if he doesn't believe in this.
When the moment comes and she does confess, does Boyd feel any relief that she owned up to it? That she didn't try to lie further?
Goggins: Well, the thing that was so fu---- up about her admission was Boyd's reaction to it. The first thing he said was, "Are you sleeping with Raylan Givens?" If that doesn't speak to the dance between Raylan and Boyd this season.... Just the asking of that question is the most important revelatory thing for Boyd Crowder's state of mind. Who would fu--ing ask that question? She's working for the U.S. Marshal Service. She is telling on you, and the only thing you care about is, "Are you fu--ing Raylan?" It's so crazy.
Boyd ultimately decides to spare Ava. Is that his fatal flaw? Is the blindness caused by his love the thing that will lead to his downfall?
Goggins: You have to watch to find out! It gets darker before the sun comes up for all involved. Love has blinded him. But I think he's blinded by greed. He's blinded by his own version of upward mobility. I've always said that what he wants and what he thinks he wants are in direct conflict with each other. But Boyd learns the lesson that he has to learn.
Right. We see in the final moments that he changes out the empty clip in his gun. Was this all just a test to see if Ava would kill Boyd when given the chance?
Goggins: Absolutely. Boyd is a very smart man and in that moment he wasn't willing to give her an opportunity to end his life. That's how wily and unpredictable he is. I think it is a metaphor. The loading of that gun is a metaphor for a guy who had fully submitted and fully relinquished any doubt that he had about their relationship. The loading of that gun is to say, "No more."
If Boyd can forgive Ava, why not just take her now and run?
Goggins: He has to win. That's one of Boyd's biggest flaws.
And is that what sets up this season's final confrontation with Raylan?Goggins: What you'll see amped up from here on out is Boyd is losing his mind. Raylan is getting to Boyd Crowder. [This season] is a dance between Raylan undermining the coolness that is Boyd Crowder and Boyd Crowder undermining the coolness that is Raylan Givens. Which guy is going to win? It's a chess game and one episode one person wins, in the next episode the other person wins. Boyd loses greatly in this episode, but he has to win. And Raylan has to win. If that's the case, somebody is going to lose.
Justified airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX. Do you think Boyd made the right choice?
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