Justified’s Joelle Carter Breaks Down Ava’s Breakdown

Justified - Walton Goggins and Joelle Carter
Prashant Gupta/FX

Justified‘s Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) has never had an easy life. Beat up by her husband Bowman until she shot him dead at the supper table, wooed and dumped by the man she’d had a crush on since childhood (Timothy Olyphant), sent to prison for a murder she probably wouldn’t have committed had she not taken up with Bowman’s brother Boyd (Walton Goggins)… But throughout all that, says Carter, Ava’s been a survivor. Which is why it’s been so hard to watch Ava slowly hemmed in this season by one man or another, culminating in her capture in the April 7 episode by crooked cops in the employ of vengeful land-grabber Avery Markham (Sam Elliott). Carter talked to us about her survival prospects in next week’s series finale (hint: not great!).

You did an awful lot of running around in those mountains the last couple episodes.

And I don’t think they even showed half of what we shot! I mean, Ava’s journey this entire season has exhausted the heck out of me, but that last month was so physically challenging, because Ava and her Uncle Zachariah were running around with all that cash. People actually figured out how much $10 million in cash in two bags would weigh, and it is a lot. They didn’t put all that weight in, but a good bit.

Markham has young Loretta McCready (Kaitlyn Dever) in his grasp as well. Seems like we’ll have at least one scene with her and Ava together in the finale.

Hmmmm. Maybe.

That’d be a fun spinoff: Ava and Loretta taking over Harlan County.

Oh I think they could absolutely run the Harlan pot trade. The Ava and Loretta Show. I’d love that.

At this point, who’s Ava more afraid of: Markham, Boyd, or Raylan?

Well, in the hands of those two dirty cops, she’s more scared of Markham. Whoever’s in the vicinity that can cause her the most harm, that’s who she’s most afraid of.

Do you think Boyd would really kill her?

She’s seen him kill people for less. And she really betrayed this man, betrayed his heart. That was the biggest flaw in their love affair: They were the people they each trusted the most, but it wasn’t pure trust, and that’s always going to cause problems. But I think she doesn’t actually know what he would do if he caught her.

Death or prison seem to be her only options, at this point.

She doesn’t think Raylan would kill her, at least, but he’d be sending her to her death in prison, so it’s essentially the same thing.

Prison death might be a little slower.

Or not! Depends on the shiv available, and how angry the other person is. But she’s decided she’s not going back. She would make Raylan shoot her before allowing herself to be taken back to prison. Maybe he could figure out a way to get her without shooting her, but I doubt it.

So, last words: What have you loved most about playing Ava?

Her spirit. Her sexuality. Her animalistic instinct to survive. Her unpredictability, too—this is one character where I didn’t know what she was going to say or do until the scripts came out. She reminds me, in some ways—just a little bit—of my mother. Just in terms of having that true strength, and being positive about life. She was not as violent or psychopathic as Ava, though. [Laughs] I don’t know if I’ll ever play anyone like her again.

Justified, Tuesdays, 10/9c, FX