Better Call Saul‘s third season came to a harrowing end last night. I reviewed the finale here, and I just spoke with the episode’s writer, Saul and Breaking Bad veteran Gennifer Hutchison, about everything that happened between the McGill brothers, between Jimmy and Kim and Nacho and Hector, why Mike was absent from the finale, how close she believes Jimmy is to becoming Saul Goodman, and whether there’s any real cause for concern over the lack of a renewal. That’s all coming up just as soon as we watch To Kill a Mockingbird again…
When you all came together to launch this show, was there a lot of talk about what would happen to Chuck, whether he would still be around during the Heisenberg years?
That was always an open dialogue. It’s something that grew really organically over the course of the seasons. It came up a lot: Where is Chuck? And we’ve had different ideas along the way. That’s something that was constantly evolving.
What were some of those ideas that weren’t this one?
I don’t know if I can get into those, because who knows? We may use them in other ways. We always use everything.
So when and how did this one come up?
This came up very early in the season, just because of the course of Jimmy and Chuck’s relationship trajectory, and how much more there was within that to mine, and how much we wanted to escalate it. So it was a constant conversation from very early on in the season, and deciding if this was a route we wanted to go down or not. It became clearer and clearer as the season went on.
What impact is this going to have on Jimmy?
With that conversation that Chuck and Jimmy had, and then what happens at the end, we very much talked about what are the next steps towards Jimmy becoming Saul? And a lot of what makes Jimmy Jimmy is his relationship with Chuck. So if you start to close that off, what does that do to someone? I think this is definitely going to push further down that path.
He no longer has Chuck. He no longer has his beloved eldercare clients. How close do you feel he is to Saul Goodman at this point?
It constantly changes for me. I think he’s closer than he’s ever been. But we talked about, does he become Saul overnight, or is this something that happens gradually? And it feels more and more like this is something that’s a slow progression: a step forward, a step back. I do think he’s getting much closer, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily a straight line at this point.
Peter has talked over the years about how much everyone in the writers’ room really likes Jimmy. How much of this is just you guys dragging your feet because you don’t want this to happen?
[Laughs.] I hope it’s a minimal amount. We do try really hard to tell the story organically, and every time we’ve gotten closer to, “Okay, this is it, now he’s Saul,” it hasn’t felt right. Yes, part of it is that we do love Jimmy, but I just like the idea of telling a transformation story, and having it be really complex, and in fits and starts. For me, it’s more about that, enjoying the journey itself.
You killed a lot of notable characters in your Breaking Bad scripts, starting with the death of one of the Cousins in your first. Does this feel any different to you, in terms of the context of how Chuck is going?
Obviously, the ending’s a little ambiguous, but whatever happens, it’s obviously hugely impactful for Chuck. He’s a main character, he’s an actor I love, and it’s also a fairly intense emotional breakdown and scene. So this felt really significant. You want to do it right.