Jimmy McGill is losing his soul and Peter Gould is partly responsible. Though, he doesn’t really have a choice.
Along with Vince Gilligan, Gould co-created Better Call Saul, the prequel (and sometimes grey-toned sequel) to Breaking Bad. On that show, which Gilligan created and Gould produced, Jimmy McGill was known as Saul Goodman, a showy and sleazy lawyer/fixer for the show’s vast array of bad guys. On Saul, we’ve seen Jimmy as a more sympathetic character who occasionally does the right thing. But no matter what happens, we know Jimmy’s destiny, and by all accounts, he’s set to inch closer and closer to that in season four following the death of his older brother, Chuck. (Side note: Better Call Saul has already been greenlit for a fifth season by AMC, one that will surely shed more light on Jimmy’s descent into Saul.)
We spoke to Gould ahead of the season four premiere about the possibility of Chuck returning via flashback, how his death will impact the show, the continued merge of the Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad timelines, and whether he feels a responsibility to slow Jimmy’s fall and keep the show from becoming too bleak too fast.
What’s the benefit of getting that Season 5 renewal this early, as opposed to having to wait for the Season 4 one? In terms of plotting out the story. And are you looking past Season 5?
Peter Gould: That’s an interesting question. We certainly had hopes that we would be picked up. I think we haven’t finished telling the story, but we take nothing for granted. There’s certainly a business side to what we do, and we’re very lucky because people have been watching to keep us going so far. We want to finish telling the story, and how many seasons that consists of is still something we’re thinking about. But I’ll tell you, I think when we open the writers’ room next month (to begin work on season five), one of the things we’re going to be talking about a lot is what is the arc of what we’re looking at ahead of us. How many episodes is it going to be, and how much more story do we have? Because this season is a damn big season for the show. It’s not a conclusion. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s a really big season for these characters and for the show.
Do you know how the show ends? Is there flexibility there? Could it change?
The thing that I’ve learned is we have ideas about how the show ends, but we really tackle it beat by beat, moment by moment, episode by episode, and you have to be willing to throw all your ideas away. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had scenes or episodes or ideas that we thought were wonderful and exciting and were all ready to go forward, and then we found, looking at the situation honestly, that the characters weren’t ready to do or didn’t want to do the things that we’ve thought that they needed to do in order to get this big payoff. So far, we’ve done our best just to stay honest with these characters and to stay honest with the story, and the day that we stick to our plan in preference to paying attention to who the characters are and what they’re thinking, that’ll be the day that we’ve gone on too long. I really hope that never happens.