For the last two seasons, Peter Gould has taken over as showrunner on Better Call Saul. While Vince Gilligan wrote and directed El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, his co-creator Gould has handled the origin story of Saul Goodman, from his early days as Jimmy McGill to his future as Gene Takovic in witness protection in Nebraska.
At the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, AMC announced Better Call Saul was renewed for a sixth and final season. Gould and Gilligan also revealed some Breaking Bad characters who would appear on season five of Saul. Consider this as spoiler alert if you’re trying to stay fresh before the new episodes.
After the panel, Gould spoke with /Film about spending more time with Gene, working Breaking Bad characters into the story, and how they’re thinking about ending the series. We even got into some theories about what Jimmy/Saul is doing to Kim Wexler. Better Call Saul returns Sunday, February 23 on AMC.
Is this the longest cold open flash forward you’ve done on the series?
This is. This was the longest we’ve ever spent with Gene, Jimmy’s escaped alter ego. The first few times we saw Gene, it was really more of a tone poem or a character moment. Now, there’s a Gene story and we’ll see where it goes.
Did that come from the moment where he started giving legal advice to a guy in the mall caught by security?
Well, it came from in the previous season he fainted and then he was taken to the hospital in season four. He thought he got out home free and there was a cabbie who drove him home. The cabbie, he saw, was from New Mexico and he had this feeling the cabbie knew who he was. That’s what we’re paying off this season in the beginning of the season, just the fear of being discovered. It’s all about Gene.
Could season six open with a whole episode of a Gene flash forward?
It absolutely could. I’m fascinated by it. I want to see more Gene. I’m really interested in Gene. Every time we’ve gone to that world, that black and white world in Nebraska, I’ve been really interested in what’s happening. So I think we’re going to see more.
Was it difficult to think of a way for Hank to appear pre-Breaking Bad?
You know, we don’t sit around trying to bring characters in from Breaking Bad. It’s just not how we work but we had this idea that you’ll see happens very organically. It just felt very natural that the DEA would be called in this particular circumstance and who from the DEA would show up would be Hank. We didn’t know for sure that Dean was available or that he even wanted to do it. We had the whole episode broken and we were starting to write it. Vince and I got on the phone to Dean and told him how meaningful it would be for him to come back and started pitching where Hank was in his life. As I recall, Dean basically cut us off and said, “Man, I’m so excited. I can’t wait to be there.” He just brought it. I think you’ll see when you see the episode, he is just great.
It’s Hank and his partner, Gomez. Was there any way to get his wife into the episode?
Oh boy, there’s nothing I’d like better than having Betsy Brandt on the show. Betsy Brandt is one of my, aside from Marie being one of my all time favorite characters, Betsy Brandt is one of my all time favorite people. So we really would love to get her into the world. You won’t see her in these next two episodes though.
Vince said on the panel it would be awesome to see Jesse Pinkman again. Aaron said after El Camino he thought that was it and there was no going back. Do you think Aaron could be wrong?
I think that if we find a way to bring Jesse back or Walt back into the world, I would hope. It’s completely up to Aaron whether he wants to go back to that character. Certainly, we wouldn’t do it if Aaron wasn’t interested. That would just kill it right there but we wouldn’t approach him unless we thought there was a pretty compelling case to be made.
You just said Walt too.
Well, yeah. Look, Bryan Cranston is one of my heroes. I love Bryan. I loved working with Bryan. I got to write episodes on Breaking Bad that Bryan directed. I would love to have Bryan come to Albuquerque and direct an episode or two. There’s very few people who can move from comedy to drama the way Bryan can do. To be honest with you, it’s all about the story and it’s about what’s happening with Jimmy McGill, Saul Goodman, Gene Takovic and we’ll just have to see.
Do you know how it ends or are you figuring that out now?
We have a method which sounds crazy, but we try to think ahead but really we don’t know for sure what’s going to happen until we go brick by brick. We try to keep asking ourselves, “What would this character do now under these circumstances?” We try to be as true as we possibly can to real human behavior. Having said that, this season we got an idea of how to end the show that I’m really excited about. We’ll see if that ends up being it.
Jimmy is the sort of character who if I knew him in real life, he would exhaust me with all his schemes and shenanigans. Yet there’s something so sympathetic about watching him. What do you think that is?
I think Jimmy really wants everyone to like him. He’s somebody who just wants love. When we started, we started asking ourselves, what’s the difference between Jimmy and Walt. Walter White on Breaking Bad, to some extent he wanted respect. He wanted to dominate people. He wanted to have power. Jimmy, in his heart, wants to be loved by everybody. It’s impossible. He wants to be loved by Chuck and that’s never going to happen. We’ll see if being loved by Kim is enough for him.
Is he corrupting Kim?
That’s a great question. That’s one of the questions that we’re going to ask this season is what affect does being with Jimmy have on being Kim? You have to wonder what the appeal of Jimmy is for Kim. Kim clearly has a wild side to her that Jimmy brings out. So is Jimmy corrupting her? Or, is he bringing new aspects of her personality to the front? It’s really hard to say. That’s one of the big questions I think we’ll all be asking as the season goes on.
Are there people who are just not cut out for the sort of way Jimmy operates? Could Kim be one of those people? She’s trying to follow his lead but she’s not cut from the same cloth.
Jimmy can’t help it. He always sees the shortest distance between two points. He always sees a way to cut corners, even if he doesn’t do it. Kim is, I think, just as smart and maybe more creative than Jimmy but she still has ethics. She’s not willing to hurt other people to get what she wants. We’ll have to see how she holds onto that.
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