Better Call Saul returns with a two-night premiere starting on Sunday, diving back into Jimmy McGill’s devolution into Saul Goodman as the show begins to run into the events of Breaking Bad. But before all that happens, the Ringer staff took a pre-Season 5 temperature check.
1. What are you most hyped for heading into Better Call Saul Season 5?
Jackson Safon: I’m dying to see the construction of Saul Goodman’s office. The blue plush carpet, the overwhelmingly kitschy white pillars and blown-up Constitution on the back wall, the inflatable Statue of Liberty out front—all of it. I think there’s a solid chance we don’t see this version of his office until Season 6, but a guy can dream, right?
Sean Yoo: The most enjoyable parts of Season 3 and Season 4 were scenes involving Gus and the Salamancas. With that comes story arcs surrounding Mike Ehrmantraut and Nacho Varga, two of my favorite characters in this series. The last season saw their roles expand, with Mike overseeing the super-lab and Nacho becoming a double agent. Now with Lalo Salamanca thrown into the mix, the air is filled with tension and uncertainty. I cannot wait to see how this season plays out, especially knowing that Gus will eventually take out the cartel and become the head honcho.
Alan Siegel: In short: to see how Jimmy McGill remains a remotely likable character while finally fully congealing into the slimiest of criminal lawyers. If there’s one person who can help pull off that transformation, it’s Bob Odenkirk.
Jack McCluskey: The beauty of Jimmy McGill’s story is that it manages to be entertaining even while dealing with the minutiae of law, enthralling even though ultimately we know where it’s going, and emotionally devastating along the way. It’s very much a “no-no-yes” story, as you root for Jimmy to do the right thing, all the while knowing he won’t be able to resist breaking bad. It’s basic, but I can’t wait to see how it gets where we all know it’s going. And to hang out in Albuquerque for a while longer.
John Gonzalez: Jimmy’s brother Chuck once asked him if he was working on a case for Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, to which Jimmy immediately replied, “Hail Satan. I submit to the dark side.” It’s about time.
2. If there is one thing about the new season that worries you, what is it?
Gonzalez: Considering that Rhea Seehorn recently warned that this season will be the show’s “most tragic” to date, it’s fair to freak out about Kim. I suspect we are barreling toward an ending for her character that will fall somewhere on the depressing death scale between Marco’s heart attack and Chuck McGill’s suicide by fire.
Yoo: I JUST WANT KIM WEXLER TO BE SAFE AND HAPPY AND ALSO HAVE A VERY FRUITFUL CAREER. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?!?!
McCluskey: Kim is great, and here’s hoping she rides off into the sunset to a new life away from Jimmy’s destructive influence. But what really worries me is what will become of our double agent, Nacho. I get the feeling that double-crossing Gustavo Fring won’t turn out so well for him.
Siegel: Yes, it makes me anxious thinking about how Kim is going to extricate himself from Jimmy, er, Saul, and his bullshit. Knowing how the Breaking Bad universe works, things seemingly won’t end well for her, despite her relative virtuousness. Hope I’m wrong.
Safon: I have a hard time believing they’ll get rid of Kim before the final season of the show. That being said, the last few episodes of Season 4, and especially the final scene, really worry me that Kim and Jimmy’s relationship will go from hairline fracture to completely shattered because of Jimmy’s life trajectory. As sad as it is, Jimmy is clearly dragging Kim down, and because of his self-destructive tendencies I’m worried that he’ll see the end of the tunnel and decide to floor it to get there as soon as possible.
Gonzalez: I sometimes see Seehorn at Whole Foods and I fear I won’t be able to look her in the eye after this.
3. What’s the biggest question you still have about Saul Goodman?
McCluskey: Why is Saul so afraid of Lalo Salamanca in Breaking Bad? (You know, aside from the obvious reasons one would be afraid of a murderous cartel operative.)
Siegel: How is he going to become the guy that Albuquerque’s underworld turns to when it’s in a bind? We know he’s clever and ruthless, but I’m morbidly curious to see how he builds his customer base into the assemblage of petty criminals and violent psychopaths that employ him in Breaking Bad.
Gonzalez: Before Jimmy goes into the bar association hearing in the final episode of last season, Kim tells him that, no matter what happens, “I’m with you.” Judging by the look on her face when she realizes that Jimmy’s teary performance was another in a long line of spectacular cons, Kim seems likely to reconsider her pledge. But what is it that Saul does—or doesn’t do—that drives them apart for good?
Yoo: And how much Cinnabon does he eat on the job?
4. It’s already confirmed that DEA Agent Hank Schrader and his partner, Steve Gomez, are showing up this season. How do you feel about reuniting with the Mineral Man? Is Better Call Saul leaning too much into Breaking Bad fan service?
Siegel: First off, without fan service, Better Call Saul wouldn’t exist. Lean in. I’m excited for Hank’s retroactive return from the grave. What’s going to be weird is that the pre-Tuco, pre-Twins version of the lovable meathead was far more meathead than lovable. The less enlightened Hank wasn’t as endearing as the post-trauma Hank. At first, it will probably be jarring to be reminded of that.
McCluskey: Speaking as a fan, I’ve never quite agreed with the derision implied by the term “fan service.” I like the Mineral Man! Why shouldn’t I get to see more of him, in a slightly different context? Sometimes decisions made with popular appeal in mind can also be rewarding artistically. I hope this one is.
Safon: Pre-injury Hank is just a brash ball of masculine energy that should inject yet another dimension into an already layered show. Considering Hank’s knowledge of Tuco Salamanca before his introduction in Breaking Bad, I imagine those two characters will interact in some form in Better Call Saul. Maybe there’s too much fan service, but as one of those fans being serviced, I don’t particularly care. In fact, I quite enjoy it.
Yoo: Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have done a great job of not overdoing the fan service and making sure these Breaking Bad moments happen naturally in the course of their storytelling. Adding Hank and Gomie seems like the perfect next step in BCS as we delve deeper into the drug cartel world. Toward the end of Season 3, Mike is forced to kill Werner Ziegler after he runs away from the production of the super-lab to get a little R&R—I think that death might be the reason Hank and Gomie are being introduced this season.
Gonzalez: I’m going to ignore the last question (feels like a personal attack) and rephrase the first one. Am I excited about seeing Hank and Gomie again?
5. The series keeps teasing black-and-white flash-forwards of Saul as “Cinnabon Gene.” What do you think is going to happen to him? Can Saul Goodman have a happy ending?
Safon: After fully turning heel into Saul Goodman, I don’t think he can have a happy ending. As such, I think “Gene” will end up living out his life in the most boring way possible: managing a Cinnabon with no legal issues, unable to run any cons, with no fulfillment in his life.
Yoo: At the end of El Camino, Jesse got a semi-happy ending. But Jesse always seemed to have a good heart and willingness to protect people. Saul is much less redeemable, and the creators of this show are not shy about giving people the ending they deserve.
Gonzalez: Jimmy McGill worked his way up from the mail room, attempted to turn his life around by leaving Slippin’ Jimmy behind, and got a law degree, only for events (many of his own making), friends, and family to turn against him, thereby causing him to spiral and go full Saul Goodman. That’s a pretty good indicator that Saul Goodman can’t have a happy ending. But just as he shed Jimmy to become Saul, perhaps he can reverse the procedure. Maybe, when Cinnabon Gene goes home and washes off the frosting and plops down in front of the TV to watch old “Better Call Saul” commercials, there will still hope for James McGill, Esquire—if there’s anything left of him.
McCluskey: I think his paranoia is going to get the better of him, eventually, and he’ll make a series of poor decisions that wind up costing him dearly. And no, I don’t think he should have a happy ending—he wouldn’t know what to do with it.
Siegel: The ending won’t be happy. I have visions of Jimmy, after the cops apprehend him, choosing to defend himself in court. Witnesses in the circus of a trial will include everyone he’s screwed over during the events of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. If that sounds too much like the Seinfeld finale, so what?
6. Better Call Saul is coming back with a sixth and final season in 2021. How will the show end?
Safon: With Saul first hearing about blue meth hitting the streets.
Siegel: With Jimmy in the clink, running the show.
McCluskey: Gene’s Cinnabon suddenly closes, leaving him without gainful employment. Forced back out into the world and unable to hitch his wagon to another purveyor of caloric-bomb-foodstuffs, he becomes more and more nervous that his enemies are going to catch up with him. Finally, he decides the only way out is through one last scam … but can he pull it off, or is this the con to end this con man for good?
Yoo: I wonder whether the show will skip through a majority of Saul’s involvement with Walt and Jesse and travel ahead to the present with Cinnabon Gene. The show will then in theory revolve around Saul/Gene attempting to keep his cover hidden from the rest of the world. Whatever the case, I envision Better Call Saul ending tragically for our corrupt lawyer, whether it’s at the hands of the law, the cartel, or maybe just too many cinnamon rolls. One wishes, though, that Saul can reunite with Kim (if she’s still alive) and they can live happily ever after …
Gonzalez: For Slippin’ Jimmy/James McGill/Saul/Gene, I suspect it’ll end badly. As Saul once said, one of the only things he knows about Albuquerque is “Bugs Bunny should have taken a left turn there.” If only Saul had taken his own advice.