Better Call Saul co-creator warns that 'rug-pulling' season 6 will be 'upsetting'
(La)lo and behold, we have arrived at the final season of Better Call Saul.
Viewers last saw cartel distributor Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) menacingly on the move after an assassination attempt that was orchestrated by Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) and assisted by now-on-the-run Nacho (Michael Mando). Meanwhile, in a story that offered up a few more exclamation marks, Kim (Rhea Seehorn) stunned husband Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) by suggesting a rather devilish plan to settle that Sandpiper suit, score a payday, and rough up Howard (Patrick Fabian) in the process.
With all of this action swirling around — plus an inert Cinnabon manager named Gene who suddenly has some kind of plan — what's the best way to sum up the last 13 episodes of AMC's mesmerizing Breaking Bad prequel spin-off?
"Can I use a bad word?" co-creator Peter Gould asks EW. "Can I say: Holy s---!?"
He's got even more colorful language to describe the nature of this last ride in the ABQ. "Whipsaw, rug-pulling, there's even some gaslighting. It's also devastating. Upsetting."
As story lines twist and converge, the cartel game levels up. And let's just say that the botched hit on Lalo in Mexico doesn't bode well for a few (or even many) north of the border. "Gus Fring made a really big swing to try to get rid of Lalo once and for all. And he swung and he missed," says Gould. "Lalo is on the war path. Lalo has been restrained up to now. He's been very thoughtful in his approach and there's a new dimension to Lalo now. There's a rage, there's an emotional involvement in what he's doing. It's no longer a chess game to this guy. Once Lalo goes to war, there's a lot of repercussions for a lot of characters."
Yes, as Better Call Saul's timeline bumps up against Breaking Bad's, there will be more story lines and familiar faces from the two worlds co-mingling, but Gould stresses that they arrive in "dramatically earned and surprising" ways. (Gould has revealed that Bryan Cranston's Walt and Aaron Paul's Jesse will make appearances.) "We're pulling a lot of threads together — sometimes they're threads, sometimes they're ropes," says Gould, who created the show with Breaking Bad overlord Vince Gilligan. "This is the climax — at least for the moment — of all those episodes, 62 episodes of Breaking Bad. We have El Camino. This pulls a lot of the elements from all three projects together and weaves them, but always in the context of the story of Jimmy McGill, Kim Wexler, Mike Ehrmantrout (Jonathan Banks)." He adds: "I don't think you're going to look at Breaking Bad the same way again after you've seen this whole season."
The same can be said about Kim, if not Jimmy, too. Season 6 will offer new insights and peeks into Kim's world, motivations, and history. "You do find out what she's made of this season," he says. "You find out how determined she is, how far she's willing to go. You find out how perceptive she is about the world, but also how perceptive she is about herself…. There's infinite potential inside Kim Wexler, both for good and for evil. She's such a remarkable person. She's someone who is so giving of herself, who cares so much about the world around her, who's trying to do good in the world. But she also has this willingness to disregard the means that she's going to to get the ends that she wants."
That's a high-stakes game — "I don't think either one of them would be doing the things that they're doing if they weren't together," he notes — and with the danger already surrounding Kim and Jimmy, fans worry that she might not make it out alive. Care to weigh in, Peter? "I really don't think I'm in a position to reassure anybody," he says coyly. "I think everything that happens this season is well-earned, and hopefully all the fans will agree, because they're going to see some different sides of Kim. They're going to see Kim in circumstances that they probably never pictured her being in."
This season had one of those off camera, when Odenkirk suffered a heart attack on set and nearly died. He was back on set filming about five weeks later. "The day he came back to set, I don't know that I've ever had such an emotional day on a movie or television set, because everyone was so happy and so relieved," shares Gould. "But you don't really know what to expect when he walks in. When he walked on the set, he was all there. In fact, his acting was all there. And this season, it's a strange checkerboard, because you'll see scenes and moments that were shot after his heart attack very early in the season, and you'll never know in a million years. I'm astounded at the way he bounced back."
He bounced back and put the finishing touches on a character — three characters, if we're counting — that will be tested and pushed to the brink. And the one farthest in the future, Gene, will need to make a critical choice. "Is he the guy who always runs away," asks Gould, "or is there any point where he'll stand up and fight?" While you ponder that question, Gould leaves you with even hairier hint about season 6: "Keep your eye on the mustaches."
For more from Gould, including hints about the fates about Mike, Gus (Giancarlo Esposito), Nacho (Michael Mando), and Howard, head over here.
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- Better Call Saul review: The (leisurely, tense, funny, horrifying) end begins
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