Bob Odenkirk on 'Better Call Saul' Desert Scene: "It Was Hell to Make"

Jimmy's risky move is just the start: "He's got more stumbling to do. He is not on an upward trajectory."
Lewis Jacobs/AMC

[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Monday's episode of Better Call Saul, "Mijo."]

Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) has had his first brush with death — and his first opportunity for a big criminal payday.

After winding up Tuco's (Raymond Cruz) hostage, Jimmy talked his way out of a death sentence and saved the lives of skateboarding twins (Daniel Spenser Levine and Steven Levine). In the process, he made a potential ally, Nacho (Michael Mando), who helped saved Jimmy's life and presented him with a plan to rip off embezzling power couple the Kettlemans (Julie Ann Emery and Jeremy Shamos).

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Jimmy rebuffed the offer (after all, he isn't criminal attorney Saul Goodman yet), but could that lay the groundwork for the character Breaking Bad fans are familiar with?

In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, Odenkirk weighs on the "hell" of shooting in the desert and Jimmy's path: "He is not on an upward trajectory." For more from the episode, read THR's postmortem with co-showrunners Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould.

Jimmy is given the opportunity to go the criminal route this episode. Is this the beginning to that path?

I can't say what happens. But that's the journey. That's the trajectory. But it's a circuitous and difficult journey. It's no cakewalk. You cannot predict it.

Read more 'Better Call Saul': Bob Odenkirk Explains "Sad as Hell" Opening Scene 

What do you know of Vince and Peter's process for writing these first episodes?

I think Vince — he's very modest about his creativity and his inspiration — but I honestly think he did not know how it would get where it was going when it started. When he says that, he's not f—ing kidding. And he's suffered for this show, and so did Peter Gould, so did the whole writing staff.

What was shooting that desert scene like?

F—ing beautiful. Such great acting all around. I won't comment on myself, but Michael Mando, our friend Tuco — these guys brought it. Two days in the desert. The good thing was, to keep the sun in the right place, we kept moving. It doesn't matter because it's all desert. So except for the mountains, the background is the same. It was hell to make. It was f—ing hard.

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Something clicks with Saul after that. He flirts with a woman at that restaurant and feels sick, but then he feels energized after that brush with death. What's next for him?

He's got more stumbling to do. He is not on an upward trajectory. He is on a jolting upward trajectory and he's expelling fuel cells as he goes and it's bursting into flames all around him. He's on a rocket, but it's not necessarily shooting straight up into the sky. 

How do you keep this show straight from Breaking Bad?

This is a very broad stroke comparison, but Cheers was this show that was about a universal situation: the local bar and the different people who habituate it. Then Frasier was this very distinctive, idiosyncratic family. Breaking Bad was a nuclear family, a white guy having a midlife crisis and cancer and a very relatable sort of scenario to start with. This is a very specific character with specific drives and hopes and dreams and challenges. There's a similarity, and the same writers writing the show. I can't figure out what exactly this relates to, and I think Vince Gilligan has gone once again to a completely new territory, and he's trusting the audience to go down a rabbit hole.

Stay tuned to The Live Feed Tuesday morning with interviews with Raymond Cruz (Tuco) and director Michelle MacLaren.

Email: Aaron.Couch@THR.com
Twitter: @AaronCouch 

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