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The transformation of Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman has an end date.
The official word comes months after Giancarlo Esposito, who has starred on both series, said in an interview that the plan was for Saul to go for six seasons. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter at the time that no endgame had been set.
Saul‘s 13-episode final season will put it one episode ahead of its parent show, which ran for five seasons — the latter of which was broken in two and aired a year apart — and 62 episodes from 2008-13. Saul will finish with 63.
The series is set several years before the events of Breaking Bad and chronicles the transformation of the essentially decent con man turned lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) into the sleazy persona of Saul Goodman. Saul also features other Breaking Bad regulars in Esposito (meth kingpin Gus Fring) and Jonathan Banks (Fring’s taciturn fixer Mike Ehrmantraut).
Another key Breaking Bad figure, Dean Norris’ Hank Schrader, will appear in the show’s fifth season, as will Steven Michael Quezada as Hank’s fellow DEA agent, Steven Gomez. “[Episodes] three and four are especially close to our hearts, I think it’s fair to say, because we have some of our Breaking Bad family returning: Dean Norris as Hank Schrader in episodes three and four, and Steven Michael Quezada,” Gilligan said at TCA. “Working with Dean and Michael again was a highlight of the season.”
Still not appearing: Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the two central figures in Breaking Bad. Gilligan is still holding out hope, however: “I would love to see them on Better Call Saul before it ends, so who knows,” he said.
The show’s fourth season ended in October 2018 with Jimmy announcing he would start practicing law under a different name, signaling his turn toward Saul. Following the season finale, co-creator Gould told THR that while the series “feels like we’re closer to the end than to the beginning,” he didn’t have a firm ending in mind. “Before season five is over, I think we’ll have a very clear idea of how much further we’ve got to go,” he said.
Gilligan remains under an overall deal with Saul producers Sony Pictures TV, which he re-upped in 2018. Gilligan also wrote and directed the sequel movie El Camino, which debuted on Netflix (to solid viewership) in October and will have its AMC debut on Feb. 16. He has also been developing (for several years) a limited series at HBO based on the Jonestown tragedy of 1978.
With Saul and El Camino bookending the events of Breaking Bad, Gilligan has already twice expanded the original show’s universe. He’s not ready — yet — to go back to the well: “I always [add the] caveat of ‘never say never,’ but you don’t want to drive it into the ground, so I would say at this moment in time, probably not.”
With Better Call Saul‘s end in sight, AMC’s originals include the Walking Dead franchise — including a third series, World Beyond, due to premiere in the spring — NOS4A2, McMafia and the anthology The Terror, along with the upcoming shows Dispatches From Elsewhere, 61st Street, Kevin Can F*** Himself and an untitled sci-fi/romance anthology from Black Mirror veteran Will Bridges. The network recently canceled the little-watched critical favorite Lodge 49 and has also parted with Preacher, The Son and Into the Badlands in the past year.
— Additional reporting by Jean Bentley
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