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Justified: Raylan And Boyd's Relationship Deviation Was Purely Strategic

The voice of Elmore Leonard has had a prevalent effect on modern pop culture and crime stories in particular. The author wrote the source material that went on to inspire "Jackie Brown," "Get Shorty," "Out of Sight," and, of course, the long-running FX series "Justified."

While "Justified" is set to return with a new series and a new cast, the lingering reverberations between maverick cop Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and career criminal Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) make this particular dynamic the biggest hurdle that "Justified: City Primeval" is going to have to overcome in order to impress longtime fans.

On that note, Goggins sat down with Esquire in 2015 to talk about the interplay between Raylan and Boyd over the course of the series, and he suggested that when the series did deviate from that dynamic, it was a calculated choice from the creator and showrunner, Graham Yost. "I feel the deviations from that relationship were very strategic and wisely implemented by Graham," Goggins said. "Because if it's only about these two guys, then the show doesn't have anywhere to go."

The actor says that too much of a good thing would have ruined it

While the long-running rivalry between Boyd Crowder and Raylan Givens is a central element to "Justified," after Boyd became the main villain in Season 1, the series wisely began to cycle back and forth between its two central characters. This occasionally split them up for wide swathes of time and made the moments they were together feel much more special.

Though some fans wished the two were locked together more extensively as "Justified" went on, Walton Goggins pushes back against this criticism. "It's the seasons in which Raylan and Boyd barely interacted that were even more intriguing to me," the actor explained. "As much as we interfaced in Season 1 and Season 2, if you go to that gold mine too many times, then you're gonna run out of gold."

Fans will recall that, despite the duo being on opposite sides of the law, Raylan and Boyd once worked in a coal mine together and have a rich bond because of that experience. This element and the begrudging respect that the two characters develop across the six seasons of "Justified" lead to them occasionally putting aside their differences and working together against a greater threat.

Goggins thinks that the deviations helped to serve a purpose

Walton Goggins pointed out how the cast and crew knew that had something special with the two "Justified" performers and that this was precisely why they didn't want to overdo it. "The writers recognized that early on, and we all wanted every conversation Boyd and Raylan had to be advancing their relationship," he said.

While some fans weren't impressed with where things went for Raylan and Boyd in later seasons, Goggins is satisfied with how the dynamics and juxtaposition played out for the two characters. "You look at those seasons when Boyd, in Season 4, is trying to build this life with Ava, and they're coming together," Goggins recalled. He elaborated on the parallel the characters experienced with their love interests and how their relationships ultimately ended.

When put that way, it's easy to see that there's often a through line between Raylan and Boyd, even when the two are not necessarily sharing the screen. "So many of the things that are not seen overtly are always there, intangibly speaking, for these two guys," Goggins said. "But it is what is."