Peter Gould offers insights into the first two episodes of season 6, including that intriguing opening sequence.

Warning: This article contains plot details from Monday's episodes of Better Call Saul, "Wine and Roses" and "Carrot and Stick."

Entering its final season, Better Call Saul had much to unpack about Jimmy's concerning devolution, Kim's alarming new scheme, and Lalo's frightening revenge mission. But in its first order of fascinating business, the show boxed up Saul Goodman's life after he fled town in the frantic, desperate end days of Breaking Bad. Yes, the season 6 opening sequence featured a mesmerizing montage of workers clearing out all sorts of gaudy belongings from Saul's mansion (and holy s---, was that a golden toilet?) that ended with a teeny but significant bottle stopper toppling out of a loading truck and settling unceremoniously onto the street. Proof of life? A reminder of what once was? Whatever the case, Kim lives on. In Jimmy/Saul's mind, at the very least.

In season 6's first two episodes, "Wine and Roses" and "Carrot and Stick," guileful lawyer Jimmy/Saul (Bob Odenkirk) and his wife, attorney extraordinaire Kim (Rhea Seehorn), decided (after a bit of tentative back-and-forth) to enact Kim's shady scheme and settle that Sandpiper lawsuit, claim a fat payday, and "bruise" up Kim's dapper ex-mentor Howard (Patrick Fabian) in the process. And so they began building their Rube Goldberg Scamtraption.

First Jimmy planted a packet of baby powder in Howard's country club locker to discredit him to golf buddy and fellow lawyer Cliff Maine (Ed Begley Jr.). Then Jimmy and Kim rang the Kettlebell, paying a visit to season 1 embezzlers Craig (Jeremy Shamos) and Betsy Kettleman (Julie Ann Emery), who, as it turns out, had found a new grift as tax preparers. Jimmy manipulated the Kettlemans into painting out Howard as someone who was "nose-deep in the devil's dandruff" to Cliff, thinking they were on the road to restoring their own reputation. When they (half-)caught on and threatened Jimmy, Kim brought down the hammer: She threatened to turn them over to the IRS and strong-armed them into repaying the tax clients they cheated, in exchange for "forgetting" the name Howard Hamlin.

Meanwhile in Mexico, cartel player Lalo (Tony Dalton) swore revenge on the Chicken Man, a.k.a. Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), for the attempt on his life at his compound, and he was last seen driving off in search of proof. And the man who helped to facilitate said assassination attempt, Nacho (Michael Mando), was hiding out at a motel, as instructed, when he realized that he was being set up for a not-so-pleasant encounter with the Cousins. A shootout. A fleeing of the scene. Deducing he was a wanted man by all sides and all the wrong people, Nacho told Gus' conflicted right-hand man, Mike (Jonathan Banks), that he wanted to speak with the boss.

Now is a good time to crawl out from underneath your slime-covered rock, crank up the ZZ Top, say the quiet part out loud, and enter the cathedral of justice. And by that we mean: see what comes out in discovery with Better Call Saul co-creator Peter Gould, who has some thoughts on Nacho ("Nacho becomes the man he was always meant to be); Lalo ("Once Lalo goes to war, there's a lot of repercussions for a lot of characters"); Kim ("Kim is thinking of herself with a little touch of Robinhood"); Jimmy, who shined at the country club but did let Lalo's name slip in a conversation with authorities ("Part of the story of this first episode is Jimmy getting his mojo back"); and, yes, the force that is Kim & Jimmy ("I don't think either one of them would be doing the things that they're doing if they weren't together"). Keep reading to see what other insights Gould had to offer about the intriguing beginning to season 6. What's the harm in listening?

Rhea Seehorn and Bob Odenkirk on 'Better Call Saul'
Rhea Seehorn and Bob Odenkirk on 'Better Call Saul'
| Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Instead of opening the season on a black-and-white Gene scene, viewers were treated to the colorful dismantling of Saul's gaudy house after he fled town at the end of Breaking Bad, complete with a Sunset Boulevard reference with that cardboard cutout of Saul in the pool. This was a peek into questions like: Who is Saul Goodman when he's not in the office? Who is he with? That's probably not Kim's bra. How much of Saul Goodman is an act?

PETER GOULD: This is a guy who seems to live this image, day and night, but at the same time you see that he's kept one thing, which is the stopper from the Zafiro bottle. Even the Saul Goodman we met on Breaking Bad was using Ice Station Zebra as his shell cooperation, and clearly that's something he got from Kim. So even though it may not look like it on the outside, clearly Kim is on his mind.

Which leads to our next question: Kim's bottle stopper fell out onto the street — a trinket from the Ken Wins scam, and the object she went back to her office to retrieve when she quit Schweikart and Cokely. This scene is years later. Are you leaving open the possibility that this is a remnant of her life that she held onto and maybe she's still in Jimmy's life some form? Or — and this seems more likely — that this a remnant of Kim and Jimmy's life with her that he held on to, a memory of what once was but slipped away, whether she's alive or dead?

That's a great question. If there's a Zafiro stopper, how far away is Kim Wexler? I'm thrilled that people are asking this question, that they're worried about Kim, and answers will be in the show. There's no ambiguity about what happens to Kim, I'll tell you that.

Are we going to get another peek at that little black book?

That intriguing little black book could turn out to have a significance. That whole teaser is chock-full of references to where we've been, but also references to where we're going. There are things that get called Easter eggs, which are some little reference that only the sharp eyes will notice. But there's also — I don't know what to call them, Preaster eggs? — there are Easter eggs that will only make sense after you've seen a lot more of the show. Hopefully what'll happen is that it'll just make you feel like it's a very complete story when it's all said and done.

Can you also say this is another indication that we'll spend a little more time in the Breaking Bad era this season as those timelines start to join up?

Yes. I think it's safe to say that, but it may not happen the way you expect — or when you'd expect.

When Jimmy and Kim are at El Camino, talking tentatively about doing the big scheme, it reminds you of how often the show has put forth the idea of small decisions leading to bigger consequences. There are so many off-ramps in front of these characters, and it doesn't have to play out like this, but whims, egos, and other factors are at play. "So, we're doing that?" "I thought we were. You think we shouldn't?"

It doesn't have to go the way it's going. In our fictional world, these people really are the authors of their own fate. And sometimes you make a decision, and it seems like a very small, small one in the moment, and it turns out to have enormous consequences. Maybe that's a good argument for trying to do the right thing as much as you possibly can.

Speaking of that, Kim is calibrating the plan that will now leave Howard just a little bruised. But as Cliff is playing guitar, thinking about what the Kettlemans said about Howard, have Jimmy and Kim just set into motion something they can't control? Because at the end of episode 2, they've only tied off the Kettleman end of it.

This is a very tricky scam that these two are embarking on. They're trying to scam people who are very intelligent, who are attorneys, and who all live in the same world that Jimmy and Kim live. It's one thing to try to scam someone in a bar 10,000 miles from home; it's another thing to scam someone who knows you, and knows you are a scammer and who lives next door. So they are definitely taking big risks here. But on the other hand, they've proven in the past they can pull these things off, so we'll see.

At the restaurant, Kim pitched Jimmy on how the Saul Goodman office should look: "Something showy, a cathedral of justice." What are her motivations in helping turn into him into this cartoon? Is this her way of connecting with him? Is she becoming more invested in Saul Goodman? Because scheming is when things start popping between them.

That's true. And I think they both know this now. When there is a little bit of lull in the relationship, the spark that can always relight the fire is scamming. You're very right to pick up that on a big moment because Kim has been up to now very skeptical of this Saul Goodman persona. "Why can't Jimmy just use his own name?" Part of it is that she sees that he's made a definite decision, and that this is something that he's passionate about. And there's another part of it, which is if the person you love is into, I don't know, opera music, you have choices about whether you're going to say, "I hate opera," or whether you're going to go with them to the opera — and Kim is making the choice to go to the opera.

How long have you been planning a Ketttleman comeback? At the end of season 4, you did tell me, "I'm still pining for the Kettelmans."

Always, always. They've created these amazing characters — Julian and Jeremy, they're both incredible actors. There's not a lot of improv on the show; it may look like there is, but that's a tribute to how great these performers are. Jeremy and Julian can improv as the Kettlemans, and they've had some lines and little pieces of physical business that we were so excited to have them back in action as the Kettles again. You know, we have this corkboard in the writers' room with the names of all the characters we'd like to bring back. And, boy, we really would've not felt good about finishing the show if we hadn't seen the Kettlemans again. You'll see as the season goes on — it's not like there's any deep hidden meaning in the show — there are these couples who all made different choices about how to live, and you're going to see at least a trilogy of these couples who make an appearance, and the Kettlemans are some of our favorites.

Kim's facial expression changes when the Kettlemans talk about losing everything. She later tells them, "You think you lost everything, you have no idea." Her voice is wavering, as if she's the one who lost everything. Will there be more insights into that from her life before she met Jimmy, which we've seen very little of?

That's a great question. Kim told a story last season about her childhood. I think you could tell that Kim Wexler is somebody who's seen a lot of different parts of life. It's interesting because that moment when she sees the Kettlemans taking advantage of people, that really seems to hit a note close to her heart. And don't forget that the folks that the Kettlemans are taking advantage of are pretty much Kim's clientele in her pro bono world. So think that she's got good reason for putting the hammer down on those two…

In fact, I would argue what they're doing now is worse than what we're doing when we met them. When we met them, Craig seemed to be cooking the books of the City of Albuquerque. Now they're taking advantage of poor people who were eager to get gambling money. Believe it or not, this scam was inspired by something that happened to my wife. She found out that someone else had had filed a tax return in her name in order to get her refund. We're living in a world with a lot of people on the make and a lot of scammers. And unfortunately in real life, they're not as much fun as the Kettlemans.

Sorry to hear that happened to your wife... Rounding off to the nearest dozen, how many people should be scared of Lalo? And how does this assassination attempt change his cartel calculus? Because he seems like he's operating on a much more emotional level now.

When we met him, way back in season 4, he was coming to Albuquerque because there were no more Salamancas around. He was the guy who is forced to just take a look at the family business and make sure everything's going okay. And there's this guy, Gustavo Fring, who's a thorn in the sides of the Salamancas, especially Hector [Mark Margolis]. For good reason, by the way. Hector, pretty shrewdly, understands that when you shoot a man's partner in the head in front of him, he might carry a grudge totally. Fring's success in bringing in cash has enabled him to get past that with the rest of the cartel.

But in any case, Lalo comes there and he's — I wouldn't say he's completely fun, but he always seems to be enjoying himself, even when he is perched on a mountaintop with a pair of field glasses. Now they've come to his house. Now they have killed people under his protection, people he cares about. And, in Lalo's mind, forced him to kill that nice couple he had in waiting because the husband is something of a double. His eyes are blazing. When you see how angry Lalo looks, I wouldn't want to be on the other end of that. He's really in a burn-it-all-down mood.

Any hints you want to drop about the proof that Lalo is off to find, after Hector tells him that he'll need it?

If fans watched the beginning of last season carefully, Lalo is making a bunch of phone calls and trying to understand what it is and Werner Ziegler [Rainer Bock] was building for Gustavo Fring. And that would be a definitely a vulnerability for the Fring organization. He needs some kind of proof that Gus is plotting against the cartel. Otherwise killing him while he's making big bucks for Don Eladio [Steven Bauer] is going to be a problem for the Salamanca family.

Tony Dalton on 'Better Call Saul'
Tony Dalton on 'Better Call Saul'
| Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Mike's loyalties are being tested by Gus. He agrees to set up Nacho in Mexico, but draws the line when Gus demands that his dad be brought to him. He's a loyal soldier — but an outspoken one. Where is his head at?

It took Mike a long time to sign up with Gus Fring. Because he knew that that was going to take him to a very dark place. He did make that decision, and now he's got to live with it. What we're finding is that Mike's moral code is very different from Gus Fring's. Gus Fring very much sees everyone in the world as chess pieces. On either side of the law. Mike draws a sharp distinction between people like him and like Nacho who are in the game, and innocents who are at the sides. And that's a distinction that does not seem that important to Gus Fring. And somehow Mike has to live with this contradiction. Usually under normal circumstances, it doesn't come up. But right now, it does. And at the moment the Gus threatens Nacho's dad, you see that that's a line Mike's not willing to cross.

Nacho realizes he's being watched and set up, but instead of revealing what's happening, he only tells Tyrus that he has a bad feeling about this…

Nacho's no idiot. And he knows very well that Gus Fring doesn't have his best interest at heart. And the Gus Fring organization is the one that shot him in the side in order to make a setup look a little bit better. So the fact that he's got this sort of safe haven in Mexico — at first Nacho's kind of happy not to be on the run. The wheels are turning and somehow he's being set up, and in episode 2, you see exactly how he's being set up. They want him waiting in motel where the Cousins are going to show up, and Nacho catches on just moments before. If he had caught on just 45 minutes later, the Cousins would've grabbed him and he'd be tortured and dead. That's why they give Nacho the gun, because the real setup is hoping that he's going to be trapped in a firefight with the Cousins, and one way or another Nacho will be killed in the action.

Nacho then seems to want to negotiate with Gus, and it's clear that he's in grave danger and a valuable piece that's in play. Is he willing to give himself up or sacrifice himself for his dad's safety, which is paramount to him?

Episode 3, don't watch it while you're standing on the subway. It's a banger. It's really something.

In the last scene of "Carrot and Stick," a car tails Jimmy and Kim as they drive away from the Kettlemans' office. Who might that be?

We don't know who, but somebody's onto them. And, boy, that doesn't seem like good news.

What's the word that you'd use to best describe what awaits viewers in episode 3?


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