Making of ‘Better Call Saul’: Roundtable panel with 3 executive producers
BEWARE OF SPOILERS IN THIS ARTICLE AND VIDEO ABOUT THE MOST RECENT EPISODES!
“Better Call Saul” is the acclaimed drama that has entered its highly anticipated final season with a bang. The prequel series to the beloved, Emmy-winning “Breaking Bad,” aired the first half of its final outing this year. And on July 11, the concluding six episodes will being airing on AMC.
To celebrate the series, watch our special 40-minute “Making of” roundtable discussion with three executive producers of the show: Thomas Schnauz and Gordon Smith, who write and direct, as well as director Melissa Bernstein. Together they are joined by Gold Derby senior editor Matt Noble for a fun Q&A. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
By this sixth outing, attorney Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) has assumed his “Breaking Bad” identity as Saul Goodman. Throughout the season Jimmy and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) scheme to damage the reputation of Howard (Patrick Fabian) to put pressure on a case settlement. To execute their plan, they pull off elaborate stunts and revisit characters last seen in season one.
Jimmy and Kim’s planning involves pictures on post-it notes. This offers a meta parallel for writers trying to put together the final season of a celebrated series. Smith explains, “We stole a lot from our process. We were pitching all these things; way more scams, to work out the minimum application of force that has the maximum effect. We felt like they need something to tie that together.” Shauz continues, “We let them settle on pictures rather than the careful wording we use. When the audience sees it they can tell that those two have a plan.” Bernstein adds, “It is extremely meticulous, and Kim is extremely meticulous, so it fits into our world.”
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The show balances these high-stakes hijinks against a nuanced character study. While in “Breaking Bad” Saul Goodman played largely comic relief, “Better Call Saul” has carefully built an endearing character in Jimmy to tell a compelling and heartbreaking tale of morality. Bernstein says, “Jimmy is such a messy person, and the relationships on this show matter so much. It’s not really about the singular arc of the devolution from Jimmy to Saul. It’s about how these flawed damaged characters interrelate and what comes out of those relationships. It tells us about our humanity.”
These rich explorations of themes and character against a visually distinct world that has led to “BCS” being one of the most acclaimed dramas in recent years. The series has received 39 Emmy nominations, including in the Best Drama Series for each season, but it has criminally never won an Emmy.
In the mid-season finale, Jimmy’s past work for a drug cartel and plans against Howard meet in a horrifically tense last scene. Smith reveals, “We knew for years that these two storylines would need to cross, but we didn’t exactly know how. We weren’t sure for a while how long it was going to be, but then we did.”
Looking to another crossroad Schnauz teases, “As far as a plot that was hard to do, it was trying to come together with ‘Breaking Bad’ in a satisfying way. And that’s to come.”