The world lost a fine show when AMC's Breaking Bad ended its run last year, but fans fiending for more of the world of science teacher-turned-meth kingpin Walter White (Bryan Cranston) were excited to learn about creator Vince Gilligan's plans for the spinoff Better Call Saul, which centers on crooked attorney Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk).
Details on the Saul-centered look at the world of Breaking Bad have rolled in fairly regularly during the past year, to the point that we know some basic, crucial things about the show's timeframe, set "before, during and after" Breaking Bad, how the tone will be different from the source series, and that fan-favorite BB regular Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) will be a big part of the cast of Better Call Saul.
Now, EW brings us new images and a wealth of new information about the spinoff, straight from Gilligan and his fellow writer-producer Peter Gould, who addressed reporters as part of the Television Critic's Association's press tour. The two of them answered questions about the show's setting, the cast and their characters, and even touched on which other fan-favorite cast members from Breaking Bad could return.
We know that Jonathan Banks will return, and that the great Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap) will join the show as a character named Dr. Thurber, but as it turns out, McKean will also be playing Saul's brother, and is given the first name Chuck. As Gould notes, “So we have these two comedy legends working together.”
You can see McKean and Odenkirk together in the first of the two images AMC has released:
Besides McKean and Banks, the rest of the series regulars are as follows: Rhea Seehorn (Franklin & Bash) as Kim, Patrick Fabian (Grey’s Anatomy) as Hamlin and Michael Mando (Orphan Black) as Nacho. Just who these characters are in relation to Saul and how they fit into the overall world is as yet unknown.
And as it happens, Saul Goodman is not even Saul Goodman at the beginning of the show. The character's real name is Jimmy McGill, described as "a small-time lawyer hustling to make ends meet and working with Mike." This makes Better Call Saul more of an origin story than a straight prequel series.
As for the show's time frame, the producers have pegged the year the spinoff starts in as 2002, and confirmed that Better Call Saul is initially set six years before Breaking Bad. This officially places the events of Breaking Bad in 2008, something left uncertain during the show's run. On the subject, Gilligan said: “I hesitate to say it, but it is indeed a period piece.”
Gilligan has talked before about the decidedly flexible timeline of Better Call Saul, and he restated this assertion here, saying:
“I think the best way to answer this and not get yelled at is you saw from 'Breaking Bad' that we like non-linear storytelling and jumping around in time. I would point you in the that direction, that anything that’s possible in 'Breaking Bad' is possible in 'Better Call Saul.' ”
Does this mean that Bryan Cranston's Walter and Aaron Paul's Jesse Pinkman could show up in some capacity, as Cranston himself has hinted in the past? According to Gilligan, it's not entirely out of the question:
“If it makes sense we’ll do it, if it doesn’t make sense we won’t. I’d love to have him as a director … character wise, who knows? Maybe there’s a way to do it.”
If more Walter White is possible, than what about Giancarlo Esposito's unforgettable villain, Gus Fring? Given the prequel aspect of Better Call Saul, a look at Fring's meth operation makes a certain amount of sense. When asked about the possible inclusion of Fring, Gilligan said, “There’s always a chance, yeah."
But would that be something that would benefit the spinoff? Peter Gould elaborated on the subject, saying:
“These are all characters we love and with Gus there is so much more to say about that character, and we certainly love Giancarlo. Having said that, we’re trying to make something that stands on its own that has an entertainment value that’s not just seeing a series of old favorites. It’s not the series equivalent of a clip show. So we try to balance these things out. But I agree there’s so much to be said about Gus — although in the series it always seemed to me that Saul didn’t know Gus directly. He knew a guy who knew a guy.”
Keeping on the subject of Better Call Saul maintaining its own identity, Gilligan noted that Breaking Bad's distinctive visual style will not be replicated in the spinoff. According to Gilligan:
“Peter came with an idea book of frame grabs from classic movies, like 'The Conformist,' we talked a lot about Kubrick. We’re doing our damnedest to make it as different as possible. It’s important that this not look like a carbon copy of 'Breaking Bad.' ”
With all of this in mind, and despite already having been renewed for a second season, Better Call Saul saw its premiere date moved from late 2014 to early 2015. According to Gilligan, the reason for this is, “I am slow as mud as a TV writer." He went on to say:
“We had a pace on 'Breaking Bad' thanks to AMC that was deliciously stately … we have a way of doing things that’s slower than most tv shows … because we want to think everything through and we think that pays dividends.”
Gilligan and Gould also confirmed the return of several veteran Breaking Bad directors. Gilligan himself directed the pilot episode, with Michelle MacLaren (known for her work on Game of Thrones) helming episode 2. The third episode will be directed by Terry McDonough (NBC's Crossbones, as well as the introductory Saul episode of Breaking Bad), and the fourth and fifth by Colin Bucksey (Elementary) and Adam Bernstein (Californication).
Since fans of the Breaking Bad universe will have to wait at least six more months for Saul to take center stage, these new details will have to suffice, at least until a proper series trailer is unveiled.
What do you think, Screen Ranters? Are you looking forward to Better Call Saul? Sound off in the comments!
Better Call Saul premieres in early 2015 on AMC.