[UPDATE: The extended trailer has now been released. Watch it above.]
AMC’s Breaking Bad ended its run as one of the most acclaimed TV dramas in September 2013, but Vince Gilligan isn’t quite done telling stories in his version of Albuquerque just yet. In just a few short weeks, the prequel series Better Call Saul will premiere on the network, thrusting Bob Odenkirk’s charmingly smarmy lawyer into the spotlight.
Since series executive producer Peter Gould has previously stated that the new show’s timeline will jump around to periods before, during, and after Breaking Bad, the one question on many fans’ minds has been whether or not we will see the triumphant return of some classic characters; namely two of Saul’s most notorious clients, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Those of you hoping to see them again sooner rather than later better not hold your breath, since the first season of Better Call Saul won’t feature either of them.
While speaking at a panel during the Television Critics Association’s press tour stop in Pasadena (hat tip EW), Gould put the kibosh on any chances of seeing the dynamic duo of meth in the show’s early going:
“In the spirit of full disclosure, Walt and Jesse will not appear in season 1. Having said that, everything else is on the table.”
That last part of Gould’s quote is key, because the showrunners are leaving the door open to having more Breaking Bad characters pop up in future seasons. During the panel, it was revealed that the writers room has a large white board with all the character names to serve as script fodder.
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Gilligan elaborated on Gould’s statement, expressing that bringing back classic characters is something that he’d like to do, but only if it was in the right way:
“The short answer is: The sky is the limit and any of these characters could conceivably show up in future seasons. But the intention is it will feel proper and organic, because if it feels like a stunt then something has gone terribly wrong in the writers’ room.”
The Breaking Bad creator admitted that it’s tempting to include some Heisenberg or Cap’n Cook in the Better Call Saul episodes because it would be fun to seem them on the screen again, but this is honestly the right mindset for him to have. Instead of looking for ways to have Jesse or Walt come visit Saul’s office, the writers can focus on telling Saul’s story first and if any opportunities present themselves naturally, they can take advantage of the situation. That will hopefully lead to more compelling blocks of television.
And while fans can expect to see some more of the deep character drama they’ve come to expect from Gilligan with Better Call Saul, there will be some behind-the-scene creative changes that will help differentiate it from what came before. Whereas Breaking Bad incorporated many free-moving handheld camera shots, its prequel series will rely more on locked down static imagery, with Gilligan saying the look is like Saul “struggling against the corners of the frame.” Marketing materials have shown the lawyer in some tight spots, so this artistic choice could prove to be an effective one.
Since Breaking Bad ended on such a high note with very few detractors, one could be concerned about Gilligan returning to the well and mucking up the brand’s legacy. It was something that worried Gilligan himself for a long while, and it wasn’t until the final stages of post-production that he began to feel relieved:
“I don’t think [it was until] we were in the editing room, and saw [the story] made tangible [that I said], ‘S***, I don’t know if the world will like this thing, but I do. I’m really proud. It’s a goddamn good show.”
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Gilligan is raving about his new project, but his candid thoughts about his hesitance are a good sign.
The millions of people who watched Breaking Bad tuned in because they felt the show was strong and it delivered on a week-to-week basis. Better Call Saul will be able to attract the same audience at least when it first premieres, but if the quality isn’t there, the audience won’t care that it’s an extension of a brand that they love. That Gilligan’s reservations were quelled after seeing the show come into fruition speaks volumes about its quality.
Better Call Saul will have a two-night series premiere on AMC, with episodes premiering February 8th and 9th @10pm.