Following a panel discussion about television writing at the 36th Vancouver International Film Festival, “Better Call Saul” writer and executive producer Thomas Schnauz confirmed in an exclusive interview with Gold Derby (watch above) that the show would return in September 2018 for its fourth season. By then, 17 months will have passed since the third season premiered on AMC in April 2017 (and 15 since the third season finale in June 2017).
“Better Call Saul” will return too late to qualify for the 2018 Emmys, having been nominated for Best Drama Series for its first three seasons. Schnauz explains, “We do miss an Emmy cycle. We do come back in September and as long as the show continues, we’re going to hit that September mark every year.” The writers have estimated about five seasons for the show, so pencil the final season in tentatively for a September 2019 debut. However, the “Better Call Saul” writers are open about how they “don’t arc out the entire season” in advance, let alone know how the series will end.
“Better Call Saul” is primarily a prequel to “Breaking Bad,” although each season has begun with a flashforward beyond the events of the latter’s finale. Bob Odenkirk stars as Jimmy McGill, who appeared under the alias Saul Goodman on “Breaking Bad” from 2009 to 2014. The writers initially assumed that earnest Jimmy would become morally-bankrupt Saul by the end of the first season, but he is still Jimmy at the end of the third season.
“We’re all kind of dreading him becoming Saul Goodman,” Schnauz reveals. The delay has minimized appearances by actor Michael Mando, whose character Nacho was referenced in “Breaking Bad” and whom the writers intend to be Jimmy’s gateway to the criminal underworld. Although Mando was contracted for all 30 “Better Call Saul” episodes that have aired thus far, he appeared in only 17. “We have more Nacho now,” Schnauz teases about the fourth season.
This relatively improvisational approach to writing might account for the extended hiatus. Schnauz specifically chalks it up to “how long it takes […] to break episodes” and notes about the upcoming season, “We started writing in July and we’re not shooting until January.” He also pointed to how “Better Call Saul” has returned later in the year each season, originally premiering in February 2015. “This next one, we pushed beyond; we made it in under the wire this last season for Emmys,” Schnauz says, noting finally that this will be the second (consecutive) season without co-creator Vince Gilligan writing, although he will continue to direct.