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“Walt and Jesse will not appear in season one. We really want this to stand on its own,” co-showrunner Peter Gould said at Saturday’s Television Critics Association press tour.
He added, “Not saying it’s never going to happen,” to which Jonathan Banks (Mike) added wryly, “I’m saying it’s never gonna happen.”
If it does happen, the creators’ main goal is for it not to feel like a stunt.
“Our intention and our hope is that it will feel proper and organic,” co-showrunner Vince Gilligan said of the former Bad stars returning. “If it feels like a stunt, then we in the writers room will feel like we have done something wrong.”
Gould revealed that the writers have a corkboard featuring all of the Bad characters they could potentially bring back, “from the big ones like Jesse and Walt to the small ones you might not remember, like Wendy.”
Gilligan and Gould also shared their thoughts on how time will pass in the show, which largely takes place six years before Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) meets Walter White, but will also have elements occurring after the events of Bad.
“We don’t have all the answers yet,” said Gilligan. “Walter White had a very existential and very immediate problem : he was dying of cancer. That whole show felt by necessity that it had to be very accelerated storytelling. We don’t have that issue with Jimmy McGill.”
The cast — including Michael Mando (Nacho Varga), Michael McKean (Chuck McGill), Patrick Fabien (Howard Hamlin) and Rhea Seehorn (Kim Wexler) — also shared their thoughts on the overlap between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.
“It’s a crazy ton of overlap because Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould are the brains behind it and the brains behind Breaking Bad,” said Odenkirk. “Tonally and storywise and expertise, it’s all carried over.”
Gould added that there are slight visual differences between the shows.
“Breaking Bad had a handheld camera. There always was a little bit of motion to it,” said Gould. “This show, the camera tends to be … more static and held down. Jimmy/Bob seems to be struggling against the corners of the frame.”
If Breaking Bad was the journey of a man from Mr. Chips to Scarface, Saul will be a journey for Jimmy/Saul as well. When we meet him in Bad, he’s ready to kill Badger (Matt L. Jones), but in the Saul pilot he isn’t that ruthless.
“He wants to be good, but as you will see as the episodes progress [the question is], why does he want to be good?” asked Gilligan. “Does he want to be good because of his brother? Does he want to be good for Kim? The question we’re having fun with in the writers room is, is it better to be true to yourself?”
Gilligan, who in the past has expressed feeling anxiety during the writing process for Breaking Bad, said the same was more or less true of Saul, but added that once he saw the first batch of episodes he felt proud and confident in the work.
“I don’t know if the world is going to like this thing, but I really do. I’m really proud of it,” said Gilligan. “It’s a goddamn good show in my opinion.”
The drama is getting a two-night series premiere at 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, and 10 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9. It will air on Mondays at 10 p.m. in subsequent weeks.
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