Like the entire fourth season, the latest episode "Justified" was smart, funny and nerve-wracking. It was also kind of sweet thanks to the return of Natalie Zea.
She hasn't been a regular on the show--she's working on Fox's "The Following"--but the networks and productions worked things out so she could reprise her role as Winona Hawkins, ex-wife of Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant).
"The fact that I'm able to do both of these [shows] has been just beyond cool," she told me recently, "because it doesn't happen like that often."
In "Peace of Mind," which aired March 26 on FX [Spoiler alert if you haven't seen it!], a pregnant Winona informed Raylan that they were having a girl over the phone. It was small instant in a much bigger scene. But creator Graham Yost and his writers (Taylor Elmore and Leonard Chang wrote this episode) managed to make the touching little exchange a witty, memorable moment.
Raylan: "A girl, holy shit. Winona, I don't know shit about girls."
Winona: "That is so sweet, saying that like I don't already know."
When I talked to Zea she had to ask if the exchange worked because she hadn't seen it and she had to do her part without Olyphant, who had completed his half of the conversation days earlier.
"We were working around my schedule and it was just a shit show," she said, laughing. "I heard his delivery only once and sort of had to have it in my head. I wasn't sure if it was going to line up."
Zea was not only happy to hear it worked--and to be back with her "Justified" pals--she was pleased to hear Winona was having a girl.
"Isn't that great? I'm so happy. When I heard that I was thrilled because I really thought they were going to go the other way," she said. "I thought that would have been a real obvious and uninteresting choice, so I applaud Graham for doing what he did."
If you were paying close attention to Winona's final scene in the episode, you probably noticed something fishy about the man who delivered her sliding rocker. He's Picker, the henchman of Detroit baddie Nick Augustine (Mike O'Malley).
Luckily, we'll get to see Winona in the season finale, and face-to-face with Raylan. "Yes, and you will," Zea said, laughing. "Oh will you."
That answer and Picker in Winona's house can mean just one thing: Raylan's crap lands right in Winona's lap, which was kind of the reason she left him before the baby was born.
"Things get hairy," Zea said.
Now, as much as I loved the Raylan-Winona exchange this story focused on, I have to bring up another great conversation from the episode. At least and excerpt of the chat between Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and Augustine:
Boyd: "Why you're cutting off the tail of my cousin and offering him up is opaque to me."
Augustine: "I'm going to need Google Translator on my phone if I'm going to keep talking to you."
I had to go rewind and watch again because I missed everything that came after that line. Big ups, "Justified."
Read more from my interviews with Natalie Zea here.
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