“Better Call Saul”: Scene with Walt and Jesse explained by the director
SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not seen Better Call Saul Season 6 Episode 11 entitled Breaking Bad.
After their Better Call Saul performances were teased by series co-creator Peter Gould ahead of the start of the sixth and final season, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul were finally back as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman on Monday night.
The two Emmy-winners first reprized their roles in the Breaking Bad prequel, just a few years after briefly sharing screens in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. After fans theorized when Walt and Jesse would show up, they were introduced during a flashback to Breaking Bad Season 2 Episode 8, an episode titled Better Call Saul, which introduced Bob Odenkirk’s character.
It was also in this 2009 episode of Breaking Bad that we first heard the names of characters Lalo and Ignacio, but at the time they were just throwaway lines from Saul and never mentioned again. Now those lines have new meaning as “Better Call Saul” has uncovered the lawyer’s chaotic involvement in the lives of Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) and Ignacio “Nacho” Varga (Michael Mando) over six seasons.
Thomas Schnauz, the author and director of the Monday evening episode, revealed it diversity that there was never a specific plan for Cranston and Paul to appear in Better Call Saul, but their schedules were aligned during production for Season 6. He also explains why he didn’t make Jesse say “slut,” teases a new role for Saul in the last two episodes, and defends why they don’t do much to reprise Walt and Jesse, who are rehashing a Breaking Bad episode filmed 13 years ago have undertaken deaging. (Paul, now 42, jumps back into the role of youngest high schooler Jesse.)
What was it like having Cranston and Paul back in the campervan?
It was a crazy time warp flashback. Everyone slipped back in like we do all the time. Bryan and Aaron jumped right back into the roles with no guidance required. Before coming to Albuquerque, they asked for a review of where the characters’ heads were in that time frame. They went through a whole range of emotions over several seasons, and that’s very specific to season 2. I told them that in the world of season 2, episode 8, there’s something between the kidnapping and their Jimmy In-‘N-Out ( Jimmy Daniels) plays ) plan.
Bryan and Aaron were only available together at a certain point in time. We had this very small window so I had to write it way earlier even though this was episode 11 and we shot it while Vince was shooting [Gilligan] filmed Episode 2. Our team recreated the RV set and placed it on the stage with airbags to keep it from moving.
Was Cranston and Paul always planned to appear in Better Call Saul?
We didn’t really have a plan. We weren’t sure if we were going to bring Walt and Jesse back. To make ourselves feel better if we hadn’t, we said, in part, “Walt came back with Jesse in ‘El Camino.’ There is, so if we don’t get to that on Better Call Saul, that’s fine.” But I think we all really wanted them to come back at some point for some reason. We didn’t know how or why, but when we finally talked about these later episodes, we thought we should. The parallels between what Saul Goodman went through chasing after Walter White and Gene chasing after these scams he’s doing in Omaha, it felt like a good time to look back on those scenes and address the Lalo issue.
Have there been any talks about aging them?
There’s only so much you can do before it starts looking ridiculous. We don’t do a lot of de-aging on the show. There’s a bit of stuff on the boys’ faces to add a few lines here and there, but other than that, Aaron won’t look like an 18-year-old boy or how old Jesse was at the time. Giancarlo [Esposito] and Jonathan [Banks], while you’re watching ‘Better Call Saul’ you kind of forget what they looked like back then, until you start cutting scenes back and forth and realize, ‘Jonathan, who I would have imagined would look exactly like him in ‘ Breaking Bad’ looks very different in the back-to-back scenes.” I’m afraid people who put that scene in the world of Breaking Bad and try to make it look like it did then and look like it does now, but this is nothing to worry about too much. It is what it is. We tell a story and you can roll with it or you start pecking, “He looks a lot older than he did in the original scene.” We went for it, and I’m glad we did.
We got Jesse to call Walt a “dick” in the episode. Were there any other classic Jesse lines you wanted to include?
The temptation is to get him to say “bitch.” How do we do a Jesse scene without saying “bitch”? It just felt like I was writing the scene – it felt forced. I was happy to get “dick” in there, but “bitch” felt like a bridge too far.
Francesca said the DEA found Jesse’s car near the border. Was that Todd’s El Camino or Skinny Pete’s Ford Thunderbird?
That was Skinny Pete’s car that Badger drove away and gave him to shake off the scent. This is the car they found and [the cops] think he went to mexico. Alaska is where he really is.
So is Jesse still okay?
Things are still good for Jesse in the episode you are watching.
Did you film actual dialogue for the scene where Saul calls the phone booth about Kim?
Yes, there is a scene written. What he actually says will be addressed in a future episode. We’ll get some more details on what was talked about. Having just received a very lengthy phone call with Francesca, we decided, “Do you want to call again?” Then we started talking about how interesting it would be not the details of the news he heard about Kim listen and leave that for later. Something has upset him – we don’t know exactly what – but we’ll see how he deals with that pain.
As Gene, Saul really resembles Walter White with the mustache. How was he intended to channel Walt in this way?
We didn’t intentionally try to draw visual parallels between his looks and Walt’s. The Gene look was set in the Episode 1 teaser [of “Better Call Saul”], that’s exactly what it was. It’s funny that he gives off a Walt vibe with his looks. Some of the lines I wrote reflect Walt trying to stay in control. Two guys struggling to stay in power after these threats – you couldn’t help but have parallels between them.
We see so many different versions of Saul throughout the show: Jimmy, Gene, and now Victor. Will we get a new role from Saul in the final episodes?
Hopefully I’m not giving anything away, but I have a feeling we’re going to see a whole new character at some point. There’s a version in a future episode where Bob is walking around the screen and it looks different than we’ve ever seen him before – and it’s awesome.
This interview has been edited and abridged.
https://variety.com/2022/tv/features/better-call-saul-walt-jesse-1235330693/ “Better Call Saul”: Scene with Walt and Jesse explained by the director