Bob Odenkirk is very happy with the ending of Better Call Saul, which wrapped Monday after six astonishing seasons. But in the latest episode of the Better Call Saul Insider Podcast, he asked the show’s co-creator, Peter Gould, if he was ever concerned about the “lack of fireworks” in the show’s goodbye to Saul Goodman, aka Jimmy McGill.
Some spoilers follow, obviously, about both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, the show where Saul Goodman originated. Gould created the character, who first appeared in Season 2 of Breaking Bad, and went on to co-create Better Call Saul with Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan.
Saying he appreciated the “truth and integrity of thinking and effort” that went into the finale — and its consistency with the tone of the entire series — Odenkirk asked Gould: “Were you concerned about the lack of fireworks? Especially in relation to Breaking Bad? Breaking Bad ended with a roomful of Nazis being mowed down by a spring-trap-loaded machine gun. And an explosion. And this show ends with people talking, and facing quiet suffering.”
Odenkirk laughed before continuing: “I think it speaks to the ways in which the two shows are different. I think the attractions of Breaking Bad… were more universal, more easy to grasp. And Better Call Saul is just a more idiosyncratic, offbeat, kind of dry [show]. And you went with an ending that [is] exactly right for for the work you did. But did you ever kick around a more flashy ending?”
Gould said he didn’t know if there was ever “a flashier ending” in mind, though he and the other writers did consider going that route.
“There’s nobody in the writers room who’s more scared about this stuff,” Gould told Odenkirk. “I’m the one who’s most likely to question everything, every decision that we make, 50 times. But the truth was, the more we talked about it, it just felt like it was the only way to go.”
Gould also noted that the dramatic structure of the final season was unusual.
“Nobody dies after episode after Episode 8. We have five more episodes [after that]. That’s what the fans always ask: Who’s gonna die? Like they’re betting on horses. Like, ‘Who’s gonna win the race? Or who’s gonna lose the race? Who’s gonna live, who’s gonna die?’ Not all the fans think that way, obviously. But it’s one of the ways to look at these shows. And we don’t kill anybody after [Episode 8]. Which to me says: at least it’s something it’s something different.”
Gould added: “When Vince and I started, the first thing we said was, we don’t want to do Breaking Bad again. We don’t want to just try to Xerox what we did.. You can’t just duplicate it.”
He noted that the five episodes after Season 6 Episode 8 might be “the most eccentric part of the show,” thanks in part to a time jump that largely leaps past the years depicted on Breaking Bad, when Saul Goodman first began working with Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) to build a meth empire. Starting in Episode 9, the series focuses hard on Saul/Jimmy’s life in Omaha, where he lives under the alias Gene Takovic, and his reconnection with ex-wife Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn).
After Episode 8, Gould noted, “we’re suddenly in Omaha. And we skipped over the Breaking Bad of it. But I felt like, ultimately, the story is the story of this guy’s life — and his life is about his decisions. … And also, Saul Goodman, Gene Takovic, Jimmy is not going to be the guy who builds a gun. Walter White would do that. Walter White would poison a bunch of people to get what he wants. But that’s not how Jimmy operates.”
Gould noted that the podcast episode was being recorded before the airing of Better Call Saul Season 6, Episode 9. So he didn’t yet know how fans would receive the final episodes.
“I love everything that we did, but whether the outside world is going to feel the same way, who knows,” Gould said.
“Yeah, I worry that some people will find it not as flashy as they want it to be,” Bob Odenkirk said. “Nobody wants Kim to die, but secretly, they want something big to happen. I think what happens is big, but it’s more human and more real and more grounded than another death — another tragic, bloody ending. Anyway, I hope people appreciate that you guys in the writers room chose to restrain yourselves from sort of the broader, high-concept choices.”
The consensus seems to be overwhelming approval, and appreciation for the show staying true to its characters instead of going for flash and fireworks.
You can listen to the full conversation between Bob Odenkirk and Better Call Saul c0-creator Peter Gould on the latest episode of the Better Call Saul Insider Podcast.