Ever since Better Call Saul first started airing in 2015, the question has loomed whether Breaking Bad leads Walt (Bryan Cranston) or Jesse (Aaron Paul) would make an appearance on the prequel series. Creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan have not ruled it out, even noting it was highly likely they’d appear at some point, but as the writers have now assembled to craft the sixth and final season of the incredible AMC series, it’s time for them to make a final decision: will Walt and Jesse show up in Better Call Saul or not?
I posed the question to Gould during a recent extended interview as part of our Collider Connected series, and he noted that while he’d love to have Walt and Jesse back, their big scene in the Netflix film El Camino has taken a bit of the pressure off of adding a cameo into Better Call Saul:
“I like to think that we don’t have as much of an obligation to have Walt and Jesse back in Better Call Saul because they’re such a great appearance in El Camino. But having said that, I would love to have them back. I’d love to have Bryan direct an episode. I got to write an episode [of Breaking Bad] that Bryan directed and I was on set with him every day, and it was a wonderful experience. He’s a magnificent director. He’s one of the few directors who has a facility for the lightest comedy and the darkest drama. He’s remarkable. And Aaron Paul is possibly the happiest human being I’ve ever met, and he makes everybody around him happy. So yeah, I would love to have them back.”
Gould said that the Better Call Saul writers haven’t really missed a beat in writing Season 6, adding that Breaking Bad creator Gilligan is back in the BCS writers room full time after taking the last few seasons off:
“We didn’t really miss a day, in spite of the pandemic. We went form a Friday in the room together to a Monday on Zoom. So we’re all working, and by the way Vince hadn’t been in the room for the last few seasons and he’s come back. He is on fire in the room. There are so many great, big ideas that we have and so many wonderful scenes. Right now we’re pretty close to finishing Episode 4, and we have an idea for everything that you asked about. We have an idea for where we think this is going, we have an idea for what ends all this, we have an idea for characters who may or may not return like Walt and Jesse. But you don’t want to commit to anything too much because things change, and if the story zigs or zags in a way that makes it impossible for us to have even beloved characters back, we won’t have them back. Our goal is to have a story that makes sense on its own and is not dependent on those references or that.”
Indeed, this willingness to be open to where the story takes them instead of stubbornly holding to best laid plans is part of what makes Better Call Saul one of the best shows on TV. And its most recent season, Season 5, may be the best yet so the pressure is on to deliver in this upcoming final season.
Speaking of which, I asked Gould why they made the decision to extend the number of episodes for Better Call Saul Season 6 to 13 instead of the show’s traditional 10:
“It’s really a thumbnail. We talked about it a lot and one of the concerns I had was I kept saying I barely survived, physically, making it through 10 episodes, how are we gonna do 13? And Tom Schnauz said to me, ‘You’ll know it’s the last 13 so you’ll see the barn in the distance. You’ll be like the horse that gallops down the last bit.’ But we also have a lot to do. We have a lot of story. It’s a little bit of a guess, to be honest with you. What’s the right number? Is it 9? Is it 16? 10 doesn’t seem like enough, and I don’t think we’re physically capable of making 15—and it would probably take so long that everyone would be bored of waiting for us. So we kind of settled on 13 and I have to say, here we are breaking Episode 4, and I think it’s the right number.
Are they feeling the pressure to deliver on the final season? You betcha, especially in the wake of the negative reaction to the Game of Thrones series finale:
“I really hope we stick the landing. people are really tough on series-enders now. It’s making me a little nervous… It’s very tough to take, in our case it’ll be 63 hours roughly of story and then run it to a satisfying conclusion. And then plus we have the Breaking Bad of it. My hair is gonna fall out in the next five seconds talking about it. We’ll do our best. I’m excited.”
They haven’t dropped a single ball yet, so I have no reason to doubt them now. Look for my full interview with Gould on Collider next week, and click here to see what he said about the standout Season 5 episode “Bagman.”