SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of last night’s Better Call Saul Season 1 finale.
While the first cycle of Better Call Saul took us back six years before the events of Breaking Bad, the spinoff has meticulously depicted the beginnings of the transformation of the struggling Jimmy McGill into the take-no-prisoners and spare-no-feelings showman lawyer we came to know as Saul Goodman. To that eventual end, a line was certainly crossed last night on the Season 1 finale of the AMC series created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould.
With the realization that his older brother Chuck, as played by Michael McKean, has been the primary impediment to his legal success, McGill retreated back to his Illinois hometown for a decadent and shifty trip down memory lane in last night’s season ender. In the end, the Bob Odenkirk portrayed Jimmy returned to Albuquerque and what seems like a new and darker path.
A Breaking Bad directing veteran, Gould helmed his first episode of the freshman’s season with last night’s “Marco” finale. He also wrote the last episode of Better Call Saul‘s highly rated 10-episode first cycle. Even before the record-breaking numbers of its February 8 premiere, there was already a future for the show. Better Call Saul was picked up for a second season last July, well before its debut. Recently Gould and I chatted about where Better Call Saul is poised to go and whether more of the Breaking Bad gang show up in Season 2.
DEADLINE: To me, the finale felt like an emotional cliffhanger – especially when Jimmy decides not to take the partnership at the Santa Fe firm and tells Mike, “I know what stopped me and its never stopping me again” about the millions that he could have taken but didn’t. Then there’s that double yellow line last shot, the thing you are not supposed to cross. Was this where we saw Jimmy McGill truly step into becoming Saul Goodman?
GOULD: He’s definitely not going to proceed as he has. That is true. I think the end of the season definitely portends some big changes for this guy. His brother stabbed him in the back and lied about it and Chuck, although he’s perfectly law abiding, does something that in Jimmy’s eyes and maybe mine too is really rather despicable. That has shaken his world. It’s turned him upside down.
DEADLINE: How far along are you guys in the development of Season 2 at this point?
GOULD: We’re in our writers’ room with a bunch of very, very talented writers and we’re just in the early stages of putting together the outlines of the first few episodes. In terms of where Season 2 is going, I think you’ve got to wonder if the guy who went back to Cicero and scammed everybody in sight is able to go back to Albuquerque and live a life on the straight and narrow. As he drives away humming “Smoke On The Water,” it really doesn’t seem like he’s headed for a life of common decency.
DEADLINE: Will that include more characters from Breaking Bad? We saw drug lord Tuco Salamanca in the early episodes and of course there’s Jonathan Banks’ Mike as a regular in Better Call Saul. Are you guys thinking of more connecting the Breaking Bad world and this world going into Season 2?
GOULD: There’s absolutely no doubt that this world overlaps with the world of Breaking Bad. There are so many actors and characters from Breaking Bad we would love to work with. They may very well come into this story. It’s just a matter of whether they’re simply there as a stunt or whether it’s literally because these two worlds overlap and it makes sense and it pushes our story forward. So, it’s a little bit of a Rubik’s Cube to try to figure out. But we also know that our story, at least in Season 1, takes place six years before the events of Breaking Bad. We know that all those characters are six years earlier in their journeys. Jimmy’s journey could very easily overlap with many of them.
DEADLINE: So you might see something as incidental as Jimmy McGill passing Walter White at the mall.
GOULD: You could, I don’t know. Would that be what everyone will be excited about? I feel like personally I’d be more excited to see Walter White if it meant something than if it were just a cameo in the background. Having said that, I wouldn’t rule anything out.
DEADLINE: Of course you know the expectation is will Bryan Cranston show up? Will Aaron Paul show up? Is that something you guys struggle with knowing that it’s always there in the background?
GOULD: I wouldn’t say it’s a struggle. We love all those characters from Breaking Bad. We love those actors but we’re also fascinated by the characters that we have on this show. One of the things that really gratified me was the way people seem to love the Kettlemans. Those were characters that I was really interested in, that I enjoyed so much writing and participating with the great job that Julianne and Jeremy did. People love the Kettlemans. But we do have a board up in the writers’ room with the names of as many of the characters that we could think of that we could bring back. There were some characters who were major on Breaking Bad and there were some minor ones. Now after this season they’ve been joined by characters like the Kettlemans, like the fellow with the talking toilet and many other characters who we can draw on as this story takes us. When we sit down and we say Jimmy’s going to meet a person who’s like this or that we immediately ask ourselves, is there somebody like that or is there someone who’s going to perform that role who we already have in our little world.
DEADLINE: Saul was a huge hit from the very beginning, even more that many expected. I know you were in the last stages of post-production on Season 1 when the show debuted but how did that success hit you and Vince?
GOULD: I would say it is some pressure but mostly it gives us the freedom to move forward and know that we’re going to do another season and get to continue playing with these characters. We’re just so grateful to have that opportunity. We’re in a very, very fortunate position creatively where if we screw up it’s our fault and nobody else’s. That’s a great place to be in, but it definitely means there are some dark nights of the soul where you wonder have I made the right move? Is this all going to work for people? You just have to go with your gut at those moments.