Better Call Saul creator says 'this is the season where worlds collide'
Peter Gould hints that season 5 'is where the explosion happens.'
Sixteen months after viewers saw lost-soul lawyer Jimmy McGill decide that he’d better call himself Saul, Better Call Saul returns to court more drama. What might happen when Albuquerque’s most unpredictable attorney and a few other unsavory desert denizens resurface? Series co-creator Peter Gould answers that burning question with a metaphor. “The fuse has been lit in the previous four seasons,” says Gould, “and season 5 is where the explosion happens.”
Some of that noise might come from the crashing of universes into each other. “Sometimes you get two shows for the price of one,” says Gould. “For many of the seasons there was the Mike Ehrmantraut [Jonathan Banks] half of the story and the Jimmy McGill [Bob Odenkirk] half of the story, and they’ve only touched occasionally. This season is where it all becomes one story, much more than it has in the past. You’re going to see characters who you never expected to be in conflict with each other in the same scene. It was very energizing and exciting to watch. This is the season where worlds collide.”
It seems fitting as our story slithers ever closer to the era of Breaking Bad — the series from which Saul sprang — and also begins to run out of runway: AMC recently revealed that the show will end after season 6, with 63 episodes under its belt, which is one more installment than Breaking Bad begat. (It’s a tie if you include El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.) Gould, who created Saul with Breaking Bad overlord Vince Gilligan, can’t believe that Jimmy’s adventures have snaked this far already. “I wasn’t sure if [a 62-episode run] was going to be right for Saul,” he says. “In fact, if you had asked me when we started, I probably would have guessed three seasons would have been right. But the show has surprised me at every turn. And as we worked on season 5, the end game started to become a little bit clearer to us. That’s when it really felt like we knew, ‘Okay, this seems right.’” That said, he concedes that the decision to end the critically admired and Emmy-nominated series wasn’t hard science but more of a “gut decision.” “Right now, we don’t know what’s going to happen in season 6,” he continues. “So with any luck, we’ll be able to fit the story into 13 episodes. But part of the reason for 13 [instead of the normal 10-episode season] was that we have a hell of a lot to do. I will say that once you’ve seen all of season 5, I think it’ll be clearer. You’ll see some of where we’re going with this thing.”
In terms of the immediate future, where we’re going is back to the last scene of the season 4 finale, where the newly re-licensed Jimmy told Kim (Rhea Seehorn) that he was going to practice under the name Saul Goodman. How will that name swap impact Jimmy, as well as Kim, who looked all too surprised and none too thrilled by his declaration? “I don’t think Jimmy understands Saul Goodman quite the way we do having watched Breaking Bad,” says Gould. “As far as he’s concerned, at least to start with, it’s a business strategy. It’s not a life change. Kim is the one who senses that there’s going to be deeper implications from this. She feels it in her gut and that puts her in a very tricky position, because she does love Jimmy. But how does she feel about Saul Goodman? That’s the question.”
Another question looming over the season: How will the new Salamanca in town — that formidable, unpredictable Lalo (Tony Dalton) — impact the drug trade that fast-food restaurateur Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) is trying to dominate? “Gus Fring may have met his match in Lalo Salamanca, because Lalo Salamanca is the polar opposite of Gus Fring in a lot of ways,” says Gould. “Where Gus is so locked down, Lalo is flamboyant and expressive and having fun. But Lalo is also unstoppable. So this is really the season where the unstoppable force meets the immovable object. This is the season where Gus Fring is truly going to be put on notice that he’s not going to be able to accomplish what he wants to do without some serious sacrifices.”
One man who knows from sacrifices: Mike Ehrmantraut. The former cop-turned-parking lot attendant-turned-Fring security expert was last seen inserting a bullet into Werner (Rainer Bock), who was overseeing the construction of the superlab — and represented the closest thing that Mike had to a friend. “He just executed someone who, in his heart, he doesn’t believe deserved it,” says Gould. “And that changes things for Mike Ehrmantraut. That changes things in a big way for him.”
And as we mentioned, with the mothership starting to come into focus, some more Bad guys will resurface. “We really do our best not to do cameos or call-outs just for fun,” says Gould. “We really want all the elements of the story to be significant to the story that we’re telling. But having said that, it just naturally happened this season, and we were very excited to see some familiar faces.” Those include Ed the Disappearer (the late Robert Forster), Gomey (Steven Michael Quezada), and, of course, Hank Schrader (Dean Norris). “We’re seeing the Hank Schrader we met when we first saw him on Breaking Bad,” says Gould. “This is a guy who’s in command of his world, he’s light on his feet. And he’s a helluva lotta fun.”
Let’s have some fun by asking Gould to issue cryptic hints for Saul’s key players.
Nacho (Michael Mando): “Running.”
Lalo: “The happy warrior.”
Howard (Patrick Fabian): “Namaste.”
Mike: “Elevator going down.”
Step inside the season 5 premiere on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 10 p.m. on AMC. The following night, the show airs in its regular Monday-at-9 p.m. slot. And while you wait for the doors to open, you should read what the show’s stars had to say about the action to come.