[Editor’s note: This interview contains spoilers from last night’s episode of Better Call Saul, “Point And Shoot.” Please watch the episode before reading on.]
We’ve been waiting since May Better call Saul to resume its sixth season – although it seems to be much longer – especially after Howard Hamlin’s (Patrick Fabian) shocking cliffhanger. What could be better, or rather darker, for Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) to get back into the lives of Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) than to blow it all up, right? After a mid-season premiere titled Point and Shoot, we now know the six-week hiatus was worth it. When Lalo engages Jimmy and Kim in his vendetta against Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), all hell breaks loose – and not in Lalo’s favor.
Only five episodes left Breaking Bad spin off, Saul showrunner Peter Gould talks to AV club about Lalo and his stunning portrayal of Tony Dalton, how the events of this episode will impact the build-up to the series finale, and how TV legend Carol Burnett is directing her upcoming film. Better call Saul arrival of a guest.
AV Club: “Plan and Execute” ended with the shock of Howard’s brutal, unexpected death, and Kim and Jimmy survived that horror show with the arrival of Lalo. How did you come to the decision that the mid-season premiere would end this chapter of Lalo vs. Gus?
Peter Gould: Just to state maybe the obvious, when we broke these episodes so long ago, we had no idea there was going to be a break in the middle. We just thought that the seventh episode was a good ending to the episode. We didn’t know we were going to make people wait six weeks to see the other part.
Most of our thoughts should have been about what is Lalo’s plan? It’s one of the things you have to contend with because there are a lot of very smart characters on the show. I mean, there is no one smarter than Gus Fring. Except that Lalo seems to give him a head start for his money, due in part to intelligence, but also to sheer tenacity and a willingness to let bodies fall wherever they are. But we desperately wanted to find a way to bring these two guys face to face, which of course meant, and Lalo felt the same way, taking Mike out of the equation, at least long enough for Lalo to see what was going on. super lab. When Gus shows up, Lalo considers it a bonus. God, things are really going in Lalo’s favor, at least for a while it seems that way.
AVC: It must have been hard to part ways with this fantastic villain, one of the greatest villains of all time. Better call Saul/Breaking Bad Universe brilliantly played by Tony Dalton.
PG: Oh yes. I mean look we love [him]. Lalo is just a great character. And Tony, Lalo wouldn’t be a great character if Tony didn’t play him. Much of his swagger and Errol Flynn-like ability comes from Tony. He really looks like a cross between a cartel killer and a 40s movie star. It was very sad to say goodbye to Tony and say goodbye to Lalo. But we must play by the rules we have set. And we know that Gus Fring is alive and well and in business a few years later when we meet him on Breaking Bad. None of us understood how this could be possible if Lalo still exists and plans to get revenge on Gus. And we also had this line in Breaking Bad where Gus tells Hector that he is the last survivor of Salamanca. You must dance with the one who brought you. But having said that, boy, what a stroke of luck for Tony Dalton as Lalo. Everyone working on the show would love to work with Tony again.
AVC: Obviously Lalo grew up or was very close to Tio Salamanca. But he seems to be the smartest of the Salamancas. We all agree on this, right?
PG: He is the smartest, yes. He seems to be a little more in control of himself than Tuco. And, of course, there is this picture. I don’t know if you caught it, but in the previous episode, there is a picture in Hector’s room where Hector, the twins and Tuco are as children. So I think there must have been some other influence on Lalo, because everyone else, be it the twins who were cold-blooded killers and almost wordless, and Tuco, who I think can’t contain himself enough to move into decent society. But there is also Lalo, who can travel across Europe and blend in with the crowd. This is a special skill when it comes to Salamanca.
AVC: Let’s move on to Jimmy and Kim. When he tries to convince her to leave the apartment, he tries to save her life. And there’s a moment when he looks into her eyes and it seems like he’s not just relieved that she’s agreed to leave, but he almost assumes it’s goodbye?
PG: Oh yes. Jimmy feels that whoever stays in the apartment will die. How can you trust Lalo Salamanca? Even if Jimmy or Kim can complete this task he gave him to start with, then it will eventually fall to Kim’s lot when they return, what will actually happen? Jimmy knows that in this moment he is sacrificing himself. And interestingly, you see how Jimmy tries to work at an angle even with Lalo in the apartment. At first you think it’s obvious, but then you realize that he’s trying to trade his life for Kim’s and wants her to be safe. He is ready to face the music face to face with Lalo. Of course, when he was alone with Lalo, he realized that Jimmy’s connection to Nacho meant that he could be part of some sort of hostile activity. He is right that he thinks so. And actually, if Lalo didn’t want to know more from Jimmy, I think Jimmy would be lying dead on the floor right next to Howard Hamlin.
AVC: Moving on to the last episodes, Kim had some very important information that Lalo was still alive, but she didn’t trust Jimmy enough to share it with him. How can Jimmy deal with this?
PG: Well, that’s a great question and it looks like he’ll find out soon. Definitely still ahead. How will he know? What is his answer? What is Kim’s reaction when he finds out that she knew Lalo was alive? Yes, there are many more stories between these two.
AVC: The bigger issue is how will the two of them get on with each other and with themselves after their plan to humiliate Howard went in a direction they couldn’t have foreseen? It looks like the marriage is now in as much danger as Lalo’s gun.
PG: Boy, I love the way you put it. I agree with every word you just said. Their romp with Howard was sort of an aphrodisiac for both of them, and also kind of a weird hobby for two adults, but it worked out for them in a certain way. This had terrible results. How are they going to live with what just happened? Though right now we’re just wondering how they’ll last the next 24 hours? So let’s see what effect it will have on them.
AVC: Mike has been trying to help them get through these next 24 hours and it looks like he feels guilty about the body count because he realized that all of this stuff has snowballed since he took off his watch with Jimmy and Kim.
PG: This is true. Mike said in previous episodes that they’re tight. Fring’s organization, powerful as it is, is not a secret service. Mike doesn’t have many guys that are very reliable. Lalo made a move that neither Gus nor Mike expected. This is the merit of Lalo. He confused both Gustavo Fring and Mike Ehrmantraut. Not many people have ever done this. Of course, Gus also deceived Mike by deciding to go to the laundry on his own without telling Mike. You can see that at the very end of the episode, these two guys go to their respective corners. Their relationship has changed a bit. The truth is that these two guys are now connected to each other in a way that they will continue to be. Breaking Bad. I mean, Mike made his choice. He tied his fate with Gus. Maybe Gus will tell Mike next time may be. I dont know. He seemed to keep Mike in the dark for too long. Breaking Bad.
I just have to say that one thing I missed was how incredible Bob and Rhea are in this episode. Looking at these two characters in this extreme, extreme situation, I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of them do what they did in this episode. Directed by Vince Gilligan and written by Gordon Smith. It’s really special. I can’t wait for the whole world to see the latest series of episodes because this could be the best job we’ve ever done.
AVC: We know that Carol Burnett will appear as Marion. How did her appearance as a guest come about?
PG: Short answer: Vince met Carol and then I met Carol. I met her at the Peabody’s where I heard someone say to me, “Carol Burnett wants to meet you.” So, of course, my wife and I hurried to her table. You have no idea what a spectacular person she is. It’s not just the work she’s done, but her warmth and generosity as a person. She is a special, special person. We were thrilled that she knew who we were and that she enjoyed the show. While we were working on these episodes, a character came along and the first thing we said was, “Wouldn’t it be great if Carol Burnett wanted to go to Albuquerque and be on our show?” And I have to tell you that it was a dream. When you see what she does, it’s much more than a cameo. She creates a character that people will really love and fascinate.
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