Justified Post-Mortem: Joelle Carter Teases "New World," Ava's Tough Road Ahead

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[Spoiler Alert: Only read on if you have watched this week's Justified.]

Poor, poor Ava.

The beloved Mrs. Crowder was thisclose to getting out of jail on Justified Season 5 Episode 5 when an evil guard took it upon himself to make sure she instead was sent up to the State Penitentiary.

Can Boyd yield any power outside of Harlan to help his wife? Will Ava survive the undoubtedly tougher scenario she’s about to enter? And will The Crowders get a happy ending when Justified wraps its successful run next year?

Joelle Carter told me that Ava is definitely being put the wringer this season and, from what she teased when we talked yesterday, things will not be getting better anytime soon. (Can we start the #FreeAva hashtag now?!) 

Ava and Boyd Talk In Prison

TV Fanatic: After this episode, Joelle, I’m really afraid of what’s coming next because I feel like we haven’t seen the worst yet..

Joelle Carter: You should be very scared. [laughs] My stuff is at a different location from where everyone else shoots so they cram everything into one day. It’s like I’m shooting a different show.

TVF: Did that help you in a way since Ava is supposed to be away from everyone and, outside of an occasional visit, she’s alone?

JC: Definitely. I mean, I have the crew and they all say ‘When are you getting out of prison? This is awful!’ I don’t know if they just hate the location or they hate all the stuff they’re doing to my poor character.

TVF: It seems like Ava in prison has brought them even closer emotionally. Can you talk about where they’re at at this point?

JC: I think the separation and the fact that he has his own struggle outside prison that Ava has no idea about and Ava has her own struggle with her solitude and her reflection on how she got there and where she’s come from but, as you see halfway through the episode, they really stuck together the best they could and he came through for her. It’s so lovely for their relationship to maintain itself. It’s almost like when you see them in the house. They gave us that one scene and, for a moment, they have that belief that they can have some kind of normal life. I think the moment they give you this episode where he brings the lawyer, I think she wants to laugh and cry and scream. She can’t even believe it. And then it’s all destroyed.

TVF: And Danny Strong, who I know is this nice guy, playing such an evil character.

JC: He’s so nice! He’s so sweet. I said ‘I could beat you up, Danny.’ [laughs] But he’s an authority figure and she just wants to get out. So when I read it, I was like ‘Oh my God! That is crazy!’ I knew because they told me something was going to go down and I was going to go to the big prison upstate.

TVF: Has shooting the prison scenes been a different emotional and physical drain than you’ve done before on the show?

JC: Yeah, I did a lot of research, saw a lot of documentaries, went on chat lines with people who were going to prison and other people who had been to prison and I tried so hard to maintain that Ava flavor where she can try to be saucy and sexy and sassy and the situation that they’ve put her in that’s been really difficult. It’s really tearing her down and I think she’s rebuilding herself but I don’t see how she can be the same person at the end of the season and they could be the same people in the same relationship because he’s also going through a transformation.

I think when you get in that place of self-preservation you only have room to really think about yourself totally. They’re in vastly different circumstances. His excuse is that it’s for Ava but it starts to take on a life of its own, his journey this season. And Ava has to go on her own journey.

TVF: As far as Ava is concerned, is it going to make her stronger or weaker?

JC: Whatever does not kill us, makes us stronger! [laughs] It might not be pleasant at the time but we learn something and we are stronger.

TVF: Boyd’s been told she’s off to the State Penitentiary. What can you say about that scenario? I’m guessing it will be worse than what we’ve seen?

JC: She was in a small jail in Harlan County where Boyd has quite a bit of control, as you saw. It wasn’t the country club but she kept to herself and she had a good cell mate and nobody is going to bother her but he doesn’t have that kind of control. She’s going to see her realizing that she’s really on her own and somehow Boyd can work his magic and get in there to help her. But, between you and me, it ain’t good!

TVF: Will she find any new allies in this new setting or is she really alone?

JC: It’s really difficult to define what she finds in this new world. I think she has to redefine what a friendship is, what a relationship is. I don’t think you’re allowed to trust. I think her last true loving, trusting relationship she leaves in that room with Boyd so she’s got to figure that out and I’ve been given the opportunity to work with some really great actor so that’s been great.

TVF: I asked Walton this when I talked to him recently, do you believe in a happy ending for Ava and Boyd?

JC: Wow. I honestly don’t know. I don’t know if they meet up in the outside world, how that’s going to survive and what it’s going to be. It’s surely not going to be what everyone fell in love with. Maybe they will become a harder version of themselves or maybe they don’t make it. I don’t think the writers know yet either. But I like to think they can find their way back to each other.

Justified Season 5 airs at 10 p.m. every Tuesday on FX.

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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