In my head, I keep going back to Chuck’s final speech to Jimmy in season 3 and those words that seemed to haunt him: “In the end, you’re going to hurt everyone around you. Stop apologizing, embrace it.” As I think of the final image of this season, I see him embracing it. Was there an element of fulfilling destiny there, that Jimmy is subconsciously or consciously embracing it?
You put your finger on it. In some ways you could look at it and say Chuck is prescient. In another way you could say he’s putting a curse on Jimmy. In another way you can look at it and say Jimmy tried to transcend Chuck’s view and now he’s given up. “I’m going to be the guy Chuck was always afraid I was.” There’s a lot to unpack. There’s a lot of anger there. There’s a lot of pain. And hopefully there’ll be some comedy. Nothing spells comedy like anger plus pain. So we may have some comedy ahead of us.
Mike has a soft spot for Werner, a man he was essentially holding hostage, and Gus leaves him no choice but to kill him. I believe that’s Mike’s first kill in his new underworld life; of course, we did see him murder the dirty cops that offed his son, but that was for revenge. In a way, did Mike just break really bad?
Mike has killed. We were pretty sure he was in Vietnam as a soldier. We know he’s killed out of revenge. We know he killed the men responsible for the death of his son. We know he was ready to kill Hector Salamanca [Mark Margolis], he was so enraged by him, but this is the first time that Mike has killed in the course of business, and it is a big transitional moment for the character. Just as we started the show with a Jimmy McGill who’s very different from Saul Goodman, we also started the show with a Mike Ehrmantraut who is also very different from the Mike we met on Breaking Bad. The Mike we met on Breaking Bad was Gus Fring’s right-hand man. He was a hired killer. And Mike as we’ve seen him up to now is not that guy. We’ve been wondering and struggling with the question of, why would he kill? [Laughs] Because this Mike is a tricky guy because he’s not materialistic at all. And he doesn’t seem to take any joy in getting away with it or in being in the crime world. But on the other hand, Mike is also a man who takes responsibility for his actions — or tries to. And in this case, in his mind, he created this situation with Werner, and he owes it to Werner to end it in the most humane possible way.
Lalo has been a welcome addition to the cast, and he appears to be more cunning and charming than the other Salamancas who lead with their fists. Mike seemed to win this first round with him, but what can you hint about what’s to come with Lalo and his desire to take down Gus? And we know he wants to learn more about Gus’ operation, but is there anything you can hint about his endgame?
It’s interesting because like you say, whereas most of the Salmancas are sledgehammers, Lalo is a different kind of animal. And he is really smart. But he is a Salamanca, and we can see that he deeply respects his Uncle Hector. And we will hear more of him. I was so excited by Tony’s performance in every scene that he had this season. He has such great chemistry with Michael Mando [who plays Nacho]. And the two of them are fantastic, and I would love to see him together with Mike. All I can say is we definitely haven’t heard the last of Lalo Salamanca.
Obviously the superlab is large part of the Breaking Bad world. But why did you decide to spend such a significant time on the creation of the lab this season?
We are fascinated by how Gus built his empire. And we also asked ourselves, why does Gus need Mike in particular? Gus has plenty of hired killers. He has an operation; it’s a very well-oiled machine. But Mike Ehrmantraut has a whole different set of skills. He’s able to operate in the above-ground world and in the underworld. And if you’re going to build a super lab, I think you’re going to need Mike Ehrmantraut.
What is Gale’s purpose in the story right now? Gus brings him into the superlab and Gale wants to cool, but Gus says not yet and seems to be keeping him at arm’s length. Will we see Gale attempt to help launch the lab early next season?
Well, I love David Costabile, so I’m always so happy to have him on the show. And by the way, David [who stars on Billions] basically had to run between the raindrops to get to do our show. He went way out of his way.… Gale is a very interesting person in Gus’ world because Gus has a soft spot for Gale. There’s a relationship that Gus has with Gale that he doesn’t seem to have with anybody else. I think that maybe Gale is important to Gus in ways that we know — and maybe ways that we don’t know.
There are so many characters and so much story to service on this show. What was your biggest frustration on that front where you wished you had more time to explore? For example, we didn’t see Howard [Patrick Fabian] that much this season.
Oh, there’s so much. Rainer Bock is such a wonderful actor, and he created this character in Werner who I find fascinating, and I’m just so sad that we didn’t get more time with that character and to learn more about him and to see who he really is. We only had Tina Parker [who plays Francesca] in one scene this season, which breaks my heart because I love Tina. We still have a chance, but I want to explore Tina’s character, Francesca, a lot more.… We had a bit of karaoke singing that we didn’t have time for [in] that final episode. Boy, I could just go on. Huell Babineaux. We love Huell. We always knew that Lavell Crawford was terrific on screen. He’s never had as much to do as he did this season, and he was great! I want more of Lavell Crawford. I’m still pining for the Kettlemans from season 1.
What’s your one-sentence tease for season 5 that fans can ponder during the long hiatus?
We know who Saul Goodman is, but who is Saul Goodman to Kim Wexler?
For more on the Better Call Saul finale, read what star Bob Bob Odenkirk had to say.