Ask most fans of You better call Saul about the show’s fifth season, which ended tonight, and they’ll tell you not only that it was AMC’s best drama to date, but the year they started struggling seriously with the question of whether the breaking Bad prequel has finally matched, if not surpassed, its parent broadcast.
Saul Co-creator Peter Gould says he keeps his own more modest goals: “I start each season with concern that I won’t be able to match the previous season. But, so far, I think we have done it. The truth is that we do our best to go where the characters take us. “
I spoke last week with Gould and co-creator Vince Gilligan (who has directed “Bagman” this season and will be much more practical for the sixth and final season) where the finale leaves Jimmy, Kim, Lalo, and more still, their preparations for the final phase of the show, and how long it might take for the remaining 13 episodes to arrive, given the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the answers to five key questions.
Kim Wexler, not Jimmy McGill, is she becoming the real anti-hero of the series?
Each season brings Jimmy closer to his true identity as Saul Goodman, but as Gilligan notes, “this is not a straight descent.” Gould adds, “He seems more vulnerable at the end of the season than Saul. “
Instead, the character closest to obscurity right now is Kim, who is seriously considering destroying the career of his former boss Howard Hamlin in order to get the money to set up a powerful pro bono practice. .
“In many ways, Kim is the soul in question here,” said Gould. “We know, for better or worse, who Saul Goodman seemed to be breaking Bad. But what happens to Kim Wexler? Where is she going? There are many possibilities and many not so great possibilities. “
Gould said the decision to have Kim not only embrace sin, but to rationalize his actions in a way that echoed Walter White, came to the writers very late in the season. Following Gilligan’s longtime advice “to look very carefully at what has already happened,” Gould realized that the premiere of the season ended with Kim vowing that she would never rip off her own. client – immediately followed by her to do just that, but with a pure motive. “As we approach the last half of this season,” says Gould, “it started to look like – and it may not be the best phrase to use – maybe Kim Wexler is breaking wrong? “
How did Lalo become such an essential character?
Not easily. Gilligan and Gould are generally in sync on big creative decisions, but Lalo – Salamanca’s smart cousin played by Tony Dalton, who was introduced at the end of the season and quickly became a fan favorite – was a big point of friction between the two for years. The character was mentioned by Saul Goodman in his first breaking Bad episode, in a context that suggested he was some sort of bogeyman, but that was all we knew. And after a few years in this streak of difficulty understanding who Lalo would be and how he could fit into the story, Gilligan felt that was all there was to it.
“I’m embarrassed to admit it now,” says Gilligan, “but back in season one or two when I was more active in the series, Peter kept saying, ‘We have to answer who Lalo is “, And I finally said,” I don’t know if we should answer all the questions. ” And man, I was wrong. If Peter hadn’t pushed, we wouldn’t have Tony Dalton. We wouldn’t have this incredible character. So some of the ones that I found the most frustrating to deal with, I said, “Ah, damn it with them. Who cares? “Tend to be the best of all. “
Gould knew he wanted Lalo to stand out from other Salamancas, which are more volatile and / or stoic, and that he was smart enough to get Gus Fring’s goat. “We went to our brilliant cast members, Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas and Russell Scott,” he said, “and we told them, ‘We have a new member of the Salamanca family. He is a charming and playful Salamanca. “They brought Tony Dalton to us, and I don’t know what else to say. We found a guy who has the charisma of a movie star, he’s athletic, he’s charming and he plays every layer of every scene. “
There have been moments since its introduction when Lalo seemed to graze the superhuman, between his flair for jumping great heights and his talent for always knowing when you’re lying to him. Gould says they’re not only careful to let him be Spider-Man, but it can be difficult.
“First of all, we are trying to make sure that the characters obey the rules of physics,” he said. “Everything Lalo did was accomplished by a wireless human being. I think it helps. The problem we most often encounter is that Lalo, Nacho, Gus and Mike are smart and intelligent people. Gus, in particular, is a brilliant chess player who sees many steps forward. Sometimes it is very difficult to dramatize what happens under all these movements and counter-movements. What does Gus know before becoming omniscient? How much can Lalo deduct from what he saw? It’s the intellectual side that gives us crises. “
Lalo died or very far from Albuquerque during the events of breaking Bad, but how could he have done against Heisenberg?
” Who knows? Said Gilligan. “It could have been a bridge too far for Walter White. “
What is Saul really know Mike and Gus?
Sure breaking BadSaul Goodman initially described his connection to Gus Fring as “I know a guy, who knows a guy, who … knows another guy. And he seems to ignore that his investigator, Mike, works secretly for Gus. However, this season, Jimmy learns a lot more about Mike and / or the Fring organization than he apparently knew on the other show, and he and Mike seem more connected because of their time in the desert.
Gilligan contends that this is not an inconsistency, citing Sgt. Schultz of the sitcom of the 60s Hogan’s Heroes. Schultz would look away from everything Colonel Hogan and the other prisoners of war were doing, yelling, “I can’t see anything! I know nothing! Gilligan and Gould see in Jimmy’s alleged ignorance the simple fact that he chooses not to ask Mike more than the bare minimum about his other associates, for fear of going too deep with dangerous people.
That said, there are still points that need to be connected in this relationship. Gould admits the episode of the desert left Jimmy and Mike with more ties than they seemed to have breaking Bad: “If you remember, there were times when Mike threatened to break Saul Goodman’s legs, and he absolutely meant it. We will have to see how he gets there. “
Do Gilligan and Gould Know How the Series Ends?
The co-creators don’t plan their story very long. “We see about three inches on the road at a particular time,” likes to say Gould. When, for example, they open a season with Jimmybreaking Bad persona, Gene of Cinnabon, in trouble, they joke that figuring out what will happen next is something that someone else will have to deal with the following year. “It’s a future problem Peter! »Gilligan jokes.
But when writing season five, Gould said, “The fog has started to clear up a bit about where we’re going with this. So we started to think about how it all relates to where we’re going. Having said that, I do not mean to say that we have understood everything. I’m very happy to have Vince in the writers room this season, even if we’re doing it remotely, because we are able to finish this thing we started together. But we are immersed in the struggle. Even if we have ideas about where we are going, we are always ready to give them up. “
When it came time to write the season five finale, Gould realized that they hadn’t found many story ideas that they hoped to include. It happens every season, and Gould always reassures himself that they will eventually get there. But for next season, “We have these 13 episodes, and that’s it. There is no longer “finally”. “
How long will it take before seeing this last season?
About a year has passed between several of the show’s first seasons, and almost a year and a half between seasons four and five. Even under normal circumstances, there would be another big gap before the premiere of season six, but the national lockdown could make it bigger. The writers had just gathered to prepare for season six when the people of California were invited to take shelter in their homes. In this little way, the moment was fortuitous; Gilligan and Gould would prefer their writers to assemble in person, but this is the only part of creating a season that can still be accomplished under these circumstances.
Yet no one knows when people will be able to safely assemble in large enough groups to produce the show, and there are other logistical issues to be resolved. (Studio space is limited, and productions that have already been disrupted by the pandemic could be given priority, for example.) Gould didn’t like it when Saul has taken off completely from 2019, and while Gilligan hopes season six will be ready to air in the fall of 2021, if they can start filming this fall, he says, “You are going to have to ask Dr. Fauci here. “
And what should fans expect after such a long wait?
“I think the landing will remain stuck,” predicts Gilligan, who normally fades out of his own accord, attributing the work that Gould did during his extended absences. “He’s going to stick the landing. It’s going to be great, it’s going to be satisfying. It may be more of a wait, but it will be worth the wait. This is the title. “
Gould is more measured: “My short version is: we will try not to spoil it. “