‘Better Call Saul’ Boss Explains How Final Season Will ‘Take People By Surprise’
It’s been nearly two years since we’ve had a new episode of AMC’s stellar Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul, and now that the long-awaited sixth and final season is beginning on Sunday, April 17, we can safely report (since we had an early peek at the first few episodes) that it is very much worth the wait.
The fifth season finale in April 2020 left a lot of major story threads dangling and it doesn’t take long to pick up where things left off. While unscrupulous lawyer Jimmy McGill, aka Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) and wife Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) were joking about ways to get back at nemesis Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), things were much more dire for Nacho Varga (Michael Mando). Nacho had infiltrated the world of crime lord Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) and attempted a massive assassination that we know didn’t go as planned. Then stone cold cleaner Mike Ehrmantrout (Jonathan Banks) had committed to working with drug ring leader Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), which is fraught with more danger. Can any of these people come out of the final season alive?
To find out more about the final season, TV Insider checked in with Better Call Saul showrunner Peter Gould, who gave us insight into crafting the last chapter that should lead us close to (if not crossing over into) the start of Breaking Bad (the recent PaleyFest panel confirmed Bad co-stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul would appear in these last episodes). He also talked about Jimmy and Kim’s relationship and just how much danger Nacho is actually in.
So if Season 5 is considered a nail-biter, what is Season 6? Because I don’t know if my heart’s going to be able to take what’s probably coming.
Peter Gould: It’s hard to put into words. Season 6 is suspenseful, it’s explosive, it’s funny and it takes a couple of turns that I don’t think anyone is going to expect. Those are big words, because our fans are so, they’re kind of brilliant and they tend to see around corners. But I do think it’s going to take people by surprise, but in a good way because the seeds have all been planted and boy, I just couldn’t be prouder of the season.
How was this finale season different for you as a writer and just planning this story since this time you knew you were going to be coming to an end.
Every season before it’s always been about opening things up, about opening possibilities, about twisting around the story, about seeing possibilities in the characters that we hadn’t seen before. And we set ourselves all the problems in previous seasons with always thinking, ‘oh, well we’ll figure that out next season.’ Well, there is no next season now. There were a lot of sweaty days and nights in the virtual writer’s room. But I think the way it landed is in my mind is exactly right. I hope folks agree with me.
I have to ask one of those tedious questions about time. How much time has passed when we start Season 6?
Well, time on this show is a very slippery concept. I will say Episode 1, right away you’ll see a couple of different time periods very quickly and maybe not the ones that you’ve expected. Maybe there’s some time periods that we’ve never seen before on the show. But I don’t think there’s anything terribly confusing about it, but there’s some uniqueness that we’re going to start exploring right up at the front of the season.
I know you guys over the years have probably had an idea where the show would end up or at least just how you would end this show. Did that change over the last year or two? Did you change course at all?
Oh yeah. It’s a funny thing because we will have forward-looking ideas but usually what we find is the answers to our questions are usually already in the show, if we look at the show really carefully from the right angle. I’ve learned to trust the process and to trust in thinking about the characters and what’s going on between their ears, what they really want and what they really need as well as the things that they’re saying out loud and the things that they’re keeping to themselves. I will say that the very end evolved quite a bit. We had a little notion of where we were going probably at some point in Season 5, but let’s say it was just a glimpse of a shadowy future. And so making it real, took a lot of time and effort.
In rewatching the Season 5 finale, at one point, Jimmy asks Kim, “Am I bad for you?” I feel like the audience might have an answer for that but how does that play out at the start of Season 6? I’m so worried about Kim!
Well, boy, that’s the greatest compliment that there could be that you and other folks are worried about what’s going to happen to Kim and I’m worried about her too.
I think it’s one of the central questions of the show. Is Jimmy bad for Kim? Is Kim bad for Jimmy? What are they to each other? What happens? What’s the difference between people who are on their own and the selves that they are when they get into a relationship? And how do people shape a relationship and how does a relationship shape them? And this is a lot of deep questions that get answered and explored for these two specific people. But they are on a journey together and, boy, it looks like they’re going to have some trouble ahead.
I feel like Jimmy easily will cross over a line where Kim maybe doesn’t so easily or is that changing?
How far is she going to go? What’s motivating her to step over those lines? And Kim Wexler’s a fascinating character and what’s going on with her and where she came from are all big, interesting questions. We’ve gotten a little glimpse of that in the past. We’re going to see some more this season that I think we’ll answer some questions about Kim. But the answers may not be good for her.
Also in the finale was the big plot to kill Lalo did not go as planned. Can you say where that story thread picks up?
It’s safe to say that Lalo’s a guy who thinks ahead. We saw last season that he had an escape tunnel built into his house. He pretty quickly manages to massacre all the people who are all the mercenaries who were sent against him. And at the end of the episode, at the end of the last season, it really felt that he was going somewhere specific. He wasn’t just walking off into the night for the hell of it. He was limping off wounded, but still dangerous as hell with a definite thought in mind. And you’re going to find out pretty quickly what Lalo’s up to. He has a lot of scores to settle, there’s no question.
Besides looking over his shoulder, where do we find Nacho at the start of the season?
I will say, boy, you are going to see Michael Mando as Nacho do some work that is just incredible. Nacho, I think it’s safe to say, is pushed to his limit and beyond. I think people will get a new appreciation for both Nacho and Michael Mando from this season. He’s remarkable. Yeah.
How is it going for Gus and Mike, who are very entrenched in things together?
Mike has decided to join Gus Fring Organization and Mike is a man who keeps his word. He’s very loyal, but making that choice is going to mean some sacrifices. We are going to have to find out what sacrifices Mike is making by becoming part of that world and becoming the right-hand man to a character, to a drug kingpin who is a genius but is also a ruthless killer. And you’re going to see Gus Fring faced with problems that we’ve never seen him deal with before. And he may have to get his hands a little bit dirty himself.
Better Call Saul, Season 6 Premiere, Monday, April 18, 9/8c, AMC and AMC+