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Remote Controlled: ‘Better Call Saul’ EPs on Making ‘Big’ Moves, ‘Breaking Bad’ Crossovers, and Gene’s Future

Variety logo Variety 7/7/2017 Debra Birnbaum
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Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In today’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, executive producers of AMC’s hit drama “Better Call Saul,” which recently wrapped its third season. (Note: this podcast was recorded midway through the third season.)

The third season has seen Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) evolve more into Saul Goodman, and the producers say that’s been hard for them to watch. “It gets more fascinating with every season, but it gets more bittersweet,” says Gilligan. “The longer the show, the more the story progresses, the closer to becoming Saul Goodman Jimmy McGill finds himself — closer to becoming this character that I don’t like nearly as much.”

But ultimately, they say, it’s a benefit knowing their ultimate endgame. “The upside of the prequel is that it keeps us from being too kind on the characters,” says Gould.

They admit that they were nervous about the delay in revealing Saul Goodman, and joke that the title of the show is a “bait-and-switch” as each season passes. “It’s going to be a tragedy when that happens,” says Gilligan.

But as for what will ultimately turn Jimmy into Saul, they’ve finally found their answer — although they won’t reveal it. They do say the season finale reveals clues. “There are moments this season that I find personally uncomfortable and disturbing to watch,” says Gould. “All I can say is we’re not scared of making big moves and hopefully they work.”

Gould promises we will get to see more of Gene, the version of Saul Goodman working as the manager of a Cinnabon: “I love Gene. I’m fascinated by Gene. I love Bob as Gene,” he says. “We have no plans, but I think there’s a really good chance you’re going to be seeing a lot more of Gene.”

Adds Gilligan, “It would be a shame not to see more of that black-and-white storyline in Omaha, to know what happens next.”

The producers point out that exploring the world of Gene would be “virgin snow.” While their storytelling in “Saul” is somewhat limited by the events of “Breaking Bad,” exploring Gene’s universe offers no such restrictions. “That would be a good challenge,” says Gilligan.

This season also saw the return of many “Breaking Bad” favorites, including Huell — who came up when they needed a pickpocket for a plot point. “Sometimes Albuquerque is like the world’s greatest class reunion,” jokes Gould.

“If we can make them happy, if we can delight them, wonderful,” says Gilligan. “But first and foremost, our job is to tell the story of Jimmy McGill. And where that world overlaps on the Venn diagram, that’s a fun area to play around in.”

You can listen to today’s episode here:

New episodes of “Remote Controlled” are available every Friday, and you can find past episodes of “Remote Controlled” here.

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