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[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Monday’s episode of Better Call Saul, “Mijo.”]
Better Call Saul proved it can be just as brutal as Breaking Bad during Monday’s episode.
Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) found himself in a life-and-death situation with Tuco (Raymond Cruz), who was ready to kill him and the skateboarding twins (Daniel Spenser Levine and Steven Levine) after they mistakenly targeted Tuco’s grandmother (Miriam Colon) in a scam meant for Nancy Kettleman (Julie Ann Emery).
Jimmy talks Tuco into sparing the twins (but breaking their legs) after Nacho (Michael Mando) speaks on Jimmy’s behalf. In the final scene, viewers learn Nacho was intrigued by Jimmy’s knowledge of the Kettleman’s embezzled funds, and presented the not-so-criminal lawyer with a plan to rip them off.
In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, co-showrunners Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould reveal details of the episode’s torturous desert shoot, discuss Nacho’s future and tease who may die during the run of Better Call Saul.
For more from the episode, read THR‘s postmortem with Odenkirk.
The scene in the desert has the makings of a classic. What was the key to getting that right?
Gilligan: It was miserable. It was hotter than hell and the sand was blowing in everybody’s faces — and the dust.
Gould: It’s a very complicated sequence. There’s so much dialogue and so many transactions. Originally when we pitched it in the room, we pitched it as inside a warehouse.
Gilligan: Which would have been easier.
Gould: Then we thought to ourselves, well we got [veteran Breaking Bad director] Michelle MacLaren. We’re going to put her in a warehouse for an act of television? So we decided to go out there.
Gilligan: Thank God we had Michelle.
Gould: It was fun to write. And Bob of course was incredible. It may not occur to people when they see the episodes the sheer volume of dialogue. This is a character whose secret weapon is his mouth. Bob probably learns more dialogue for a single episode than most actors have in a season. He comes in and he’s letter perfect every time. It is remarkable. We would not be able to make the show if it weren’t so.
Gilligan: I don’t think we could do the old Marlon Brando trick of hiding cue cards.
Gould: Maybe a little ear piece?
Breaking Bad viewers know Saul is going to survive, but this episode established that other people can be seriously harmed. Did you feel the need to do that early on so we know what the stakes are?
Gilligan: Any good drama has to have stakes — real stakes. Not always life or death, and not every episode of Better Call Saul will be life or death. But every episode has to have stakes. Stakes are what makes the thing you are witnessing important.
Gould: There are drawbacks to it being a prequel, but that’s also a strength. You have to wonder when you start watching the first three episodes, if you watched Breaking Bad, you wonder, “Where was [Jimmy’s brother] Chuck [Michael McKean] during Breaking Bad?”
Gilligan: Where was [Jimmy’s love interest] Kim [Rhea Seehorn]?
Gould: These people are the most important people in his life. Where the hell was Chuck when Saul F-O’d with the disappear? These things create dramatic questions. You know he’s not going to get a bullet in his head, unless he’s had amazing reconstructive surgery or he’s got a twin.
Gilligan: He could be one of matching triplets. We kill one in the first season, then the second season …
Gould: (Pretending that’s a good idea) Hey, wait a minute…!
What can you tell us about Nacho? He seems much savvier than Tuco.
Gilligan: Not to sound overly coy, but it does remain to be seen. The crazy, out-of-control guys like Tuco are pretty scary. But it’s the cold-blooded, pragmatic, smart guys you really got to look out for potentially. Nacho is in control and seems to have a head on his shoulders and seems to be entrepreneurial. It’s hard to reason with Tuco. Somehow Jimmy, by the skin of his teeth, manages to do that.
How much Nacho will we see?
Gilligan: You definitely see more of Nacho this season. There’s a potential there it would seem from these early episodes for him to be an important player in an ongoing story.
What Breaking Bad Easter eggs might viewers have missed in this episode?
Gould: We like planting characters in a nonobvious way. When we introduced Todd in Breaking Bad [season five], the first episode Jesse Plemons was a little confused. He had auditioned with this really meaty scene, and [that] episode he had one line and was busy doing exterminator stuff tenting a house. I thought it was worth doing because it was so delightful that we gave him a soft entrance rather than a big slam-bang entrance.
Gilligan: In episode two, in that montage there’s a character in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment — a guy who will be very easy to miss, but he will be very important in episode four. If you look very closely you will find him very integral to episode four.
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