Better Call Saul co-creator on Walt and Jesse in season 6: 'We waited until it was right'
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Only a handful of episodes stand between you and the series finale of Better Call Saul, which means that anything can happen. (That is, after Howard Hamlin is laid to rest. RIP, Style Guy.) But one thing is for certain: After five seasons of speculation and finger-crossing, it was recently and officially confirmed that you will see Albuquerque's most notorious meth-making duo — Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) — before the final credits roll on AMC's Breaking Bad prequel. Saul showrunner Peter Gould revealed the news just before the final season began in April, and right here, he gives you a smidge more intel about the guest spot(s) that seemed inevitable, especially after so many Bad faces have resurfaced on Saul over the years.
"You're going to see Walt and Jesse this season," Gould tells EW, "but I think the way you see them and when you see them won't necessarily be what you'd expect."
Will Walt and Jesse appear together or separately — and with characters you've already met? Will there be more than one appearance? (That answer seems to be yes.) Will their scene(s) pre-date the Breaking Bad era, which could prove something of a challenge for Paul, who'd be playing a high school burnout at (checks Paul's age) 42? Or will their appearance(s) involve another peek directly into the Breaking Bad era, something that Saul did in season 4 with Saul (Bob Odenkirk) making his panicked extraction call? Or could the duo materialize in the time of Gene, a post-Breaking Bad era flash-forward sometime before Walt died and Jesse fled to Alaska? (Gould talked about the possibility of Walt still being alive when Gene was in Nebraska over here.) Whatever and however you're speculating, Gould believes that you probably haven't cracked it.
"I've heard a lot of theories about what's going to happen," he says, "and I'm happy to report I haven't heard a theory that comes quite close to the actual fact."
The timing of Walt's and Jesse's appearances is just one factor that will help it to rise above fan service, according to Gould.
"The thing that I'm really proud of is that we waited to see them until it was right for this story," he says. "Of course, the low-hanging fruit would've been to have them appear early in season 1, to kick the show off. I think the way that they do appear is all about the story of Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler [Rhea Seehorn] and Mike Ehrmantraut [Jonathan Banks]. I hope you agree when you see it."
And before you see it, Gould wants you to keep in mind that it was designed to fit the saga of Better Call Saul — not Breaking Bad.
"It's very much about the story that we've got and it's very much in keeping with the style of this particular show and the way we present things," says Gould, who created Saul with Breaking Bad overlord Vince Gilligan. "I'm very excited and they, of course, are fantastic."
Paul agreed with Gould's assessment — no, not the fantastic part; the other part — in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "To be honest, I'm such a fan of Better Call Saul that I just didn't initially see how they were going to do it," Paul noted. "But of course, leave it to Vince and Peter and the rest of the writers to come up with the perfect way."
It's also a guest spot in which Paul has long expressed interest.
"My attitude towards it is the same I had from when Better Call Saul first started," the actor told EW in 2018 for a Breaking Bad reunion cover story. "If Vince decided to put Jesse in Better Call Saul, it's going to be for a reason, and that reason's going to be very satisfying for me. I trust in Vince. I don't think he would just do that to satisfy the fans. It would have a purpose, and whether or not he decides to find that purpose or searches for the purpose, I don't know. But if he does find that purpose, I'm happy to jump on board."
In that same interview, Cranston indicated that he had a "couple of ideas" that he would pitch to Gould and Gilligan — and in any case, he was happy to sign on, "even if it's just a brush-by. A quick little something." And Gilligan sounded highly enthused to see the duo reemerge: "I desperately want to see both of them on Better Call Saul. Peter wants it, the writers do, the actors do." And even back then, he indicated that it would have to be organic and out of the ordinary: "We damn well better have a good reason for them to show up. I just hope we figure it out because I've got to hear, 'Yeah, bitch!' one more time."
When season 6 began, Gould also spoke about the co-mingling of the two universes as Saul's timeline approaches Bad's in "dramatically earned and surprising" ways. "We're pulling a lot of threads together — sometimes they're threads, sometimes they're ropes," he said. "I don't think you're going to look at Breaking Bad the same way again after you've seen this whole season."
The second half of Saul's final season begins July 11, and somewhere in those episodes lurks a guest spot by Carol Burnett.
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