‘Better Call Saul’ Season 5 Finale: Bob Odenkirk & Co-Creator Peter Gould On The Bridge Between Prequel Series & ‘Breaking Bad’

SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains details about tonight’s Better Call Saul season 5 finale “Something Unforgiveable” on AMC.

With Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill having already suffered and survived the worst –a mega-mile walk with Mike Ehrmantraut across the desert with drug lord Lalo Salamanca’s bail money– tonight’s cliffhanger largely came down to whether the latter was killed or not.

With Ehrmantraut sending gunmen in to kill Lalo at his Mexican compound, the world should be at ease. Nacho Varga was made complicit in the planned murder, opening the gate for Lalo’s assassins, however, Lalo took them all out thanks to a hidden tunnel which gave him the upper hand. In the final shot we see Lalo crossing his yard, but will he encounter Nacho? Who kills who? Neither makes the ultimate jump to Breaking Bad, and so we’ll roll this fight into what is expected to be the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul to see who wins. Meanwhile Saul and Kim take a romantic refuge in a hotel hideaway after Lalo’s high pressure-visit last week. The couple’s set-up heading into next season: Kim wants to take her despicable legal mentor Howard Hamlin down…to an embarrassing level.

Here’s our postmortem conversation with Saul himself, Bob Odenkirk and Better Call Saul co-creator Peter Gould.

Kim wants to take down Howard, and that shakes Saul up a bit. Why is that, especially after his conflict of interest in the Mesa Verde case? 

BOB ODENKIRK: You have to start with the fact that Jimmy is in a vulnerable place. He’s in a weak and uncertain and frightened place inside. He just came out of the desert, just came out of this PTSD-lingering terror inside him, including a physical weakness after being out there and suffering for a couple of days. Then she goes off on this tear where she’s imagining doing difficult nasty things to Howard, who has been Jimmy’s enemy; something Jimmy chose inside himself to make Howard representative of all the things that he resents. And she takes it further than he’s willing to go, and much further, and she keeps going. In this moment, he’s lost his blood lust for shenanigans and then he offers to her, that maybe this is too much what we’re talking about it. The response he gets is kind of a push-back, and he can’t tell if she’s serious or not. She actually seems kind of serious.

I think it all plays along with the fact that we really don’t know Kim. She’s been kind of a question mark that has grown bigger and more mysterious this season than every season. Who is she exactly? What made her? And how is she more than comfortable with occasionally letting her very rigid ethical standards just fall to pieces and blow away? She’s really the mystery of the show now. I think we’re past Jimmy turning into Saul, it’s been a wonderful journey. The question now is who is Kim?

Since Kim isn’t in Breaking Bad, we’ve been assuming that there is not a happy ever after for her, or for Kim and Jimmy as a couple. Is that a fair assumption to make? Or do you think that things won’t be as bad as we’re anticipating?

ODENKIRK: I’m on your side. I’m completely on your side. I don’t see how they possibly stay together. It could happen, and if anybody can figure it out, these writers can. But, I don’t know, man, I don’t see it. Saul had a carefree energy in him in Breaking Bad; a loner who didn’t have to worry about anyone else. I don’t see how he has that energy and still has Kim in his life, he’s taking chances like working with Walter White.

Before the episode tonight, I really thought Kim was going to die. Peter, is there a world in the post-Saul/Gene future where she might show up at the Cinnabon, the light at the end of his tunnel?

PETER GOULD: Let’s talk about Saul Goodman for a moment. He’s done terrible things. He is an accessory to just awful, awful things, not just in the Walter White of it, but all the other things that he’s done. I feel that he has a karmic burden. Does this guy earn a happy ending? One of the reasons we love television, movies and books is we’re trying to understand the role of justice in the universe. This is the one thing that will hook an audience, and it will hook me into a story, is injustice is done, and there are many different kinds of injustices. So, I think that’s a big question. In addition to what could happen, what does this guy deserve? Does he get what he deserves? Does he get more than he deserves? Does he get less than he deserves? And those are big questions. Also, at a certain point, Kim and Jimmy — are they good for each other? There’s a lot of fates that you could have. There’s a lot of bad things that could happen to people while they’re still alive. What’s going to happen? There’s a universe of possibility. Sometimes, the most satisfying thing to me in the audience isn’t necessarily the thing that’s going to make the character happy.

Do you think Kim and Saul will frame Howard for bribing witnesses using Lalo’s money? 

ODENKIRK: All that talk is just B.S. under the covers. As far as Jimmy’s concerned, they’re just brainstorming. They’re not really serious. So, I don’t know what the logistics of actually executing one of those plans are.

So, is next season, definitely the last season or do you think you could be writing more?

GOULD: My fervent hope is that we can stick to the landing the way Vince (Gilligan) led us to stick to the landing on Breaking Bad. I think a really good story usually has its end, and that’s the thing that you remember. It’s like, we’ve put down our marker, we’ve planted our flag that season 6, when we get to shoot it, is the last season, and it’s going to be a big season, and it’s going to be more episodes than we usually do. It’s going to be 13. We’ve never done 13 episodes of Better Call Saul in a season, ever. It’s going to be a big and it’s going to be resolved.

And now for the big money question: How close will you get to Breaking Bad next season, and will we get to see Walter White and Jesse again?

GOULD: That’s a great question. I don’t know. Right now, I don’t have the answer to that. I will say, El Camino took some of the pressure off that. I loved what Vince did with that movie, and I felt that the scene he had with Walt and Jesse felt like such a perfect good-bye to those characters or a postscript to those two characters. You know, we’ll just have to see if it ends up being part of our story.

The thing that we kind of focus on is, what’s the story we’re telling? The story we’re telling is of Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler and Mike Ehrmantraut and Gustavo Fring, and if having Walt and Jesse turn out to be two that could be pivotal to the story then, absolutely, we would love to have them. Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are two of the busiest guys in show business — that’s the other imponderable, whether they would be able to do it or want to do it.

Bob, under your new Sony TV deal, are you looking to reunite with Peter and Vince on another, completely different series?

ODENKIRK: No, not currently. I would love to do that, and I would go to them as partners if I had a project that suited them.

What about a Mr. Show revival?

ODENKIRK: David Cross and I would like to do more together. We can’t use the name without two large companies (editors note: HBO and Universal) coming to some terms. It’s kind of impossible to use that name again. And you’d have to get all the lawyers from both companies to sign off and that’s never going to happen. But I think we’ll work together again.

The truth is [in regards to projects in development under new Sony deal] I’ve been working on it for months. We have a fairly big-in-scope drama series, and a semi sci-fi series and a bunch of small comedies.

Peter, will the Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul universe continue to expand once you wrap next season? Will Kim Wexler get her own show? Or will we go back to Ehrmantraut’s early Philly cop days?

GOULD: I’ll never say never, but personally, I feel like once we’ve done this last 13, I’m going to want to at least try something else, try another show; something outside of this universe. I’ve been working in the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul universe now since 2007, and that’s a long time. I think working on something else would enable me to bring something fresh to it, if there’s that opportunity. Having said that, I work with a ton of brilliant, talented people, and you never say never, that’s for sure. Personally, I’d be fascinated to see every single one of these characters support their own show. I mean, Gustavo Fring — I’m fascinated to know where he came from and how he got to be the man that he is. I’m fascinated by that. And then, likewise, Mike Ehrmantraut and Kim Wexler.

 

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