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Better Call Saul’s Vince Gilligan Directs His Most Challenging Episode – Variety


SPOILER ALERT: Don’t learn forward in case you have not watched “Bagman,” the eighth episode of of “Higher Name Saul” Season 5.

Jimmy McGill’s descent into Saul Goodman has been on full show in Season 5 of AMC’s “Higher Name Saul,” and on Monday’s episode, it took an much more harmful flip.

A lot to the priority of his now-wife Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) is changing into a “good friend of the cartel,” as he represents the present’s present foremost villain — Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton), at the moment behind bars on homicide prices.

In Episode 8, “Bagman,” after Jimmy/Saul manages to trick the decide into setting bail (due to data from Mike Ehrmantraut), Lalo dispatches him to the desert. It’s presupposed to be straightforward, Jimmy/Saul tells a nervous Kim, and he even convinces Lalo to offer him an additional $100,000 for his troubles.

Within the worlds of “Higher Name Saul” and “Breaking Unhealthy,” there are at all times problems, in fact. After grabbing the cash from twins Leonel and Marco Salamanca (“the cousins,” performed by Daniel and Luis Moncada), Jimmy/Saul is ambushed and practically killed — till Mike (Jonathan Banks), who had been monitoring Jimmy/Saul from a distance, seems and assassinates a lot of the would-be thieves.

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One of many thieves will get away, nonetheless — and with their autos destroyed by the shootout, Jimmy/Saul and Mike are compelled to stealthily march throughout the desert with the cash in two massive duffel baggage.

It’s the second that brings Jimmy/Saul and Mike completely collectively — an uneasy partnership later seen in “Breaking Unhealthy.” It additionally offers extra foreshadowing for what finally occurs between Jimmy and Kim, as Mike is incredulous that Jimmy advised his now-wife concerning the cash trade. “She is aware of, she’s within the sport now,” he says.

With little water and the blazing New Mexico solar, each Mike and Jimmy/Saul are quickly sunburnt and parched — and Jimmy/Saul should even drink his personal urine to outlive. For “Breaking Unhealthy” creator and “Higher Name Saul” co-creator Vince Gilligan, who returned to direct the episode, “Bagman” was maybe probably the most difficult episode to helm of his total profession.

In accordance with Gilligan, it took 18 days to shoot “Bagman” (in comparison with the nine-day shoot of a typical episode), partly as a result of a lot of it needed to be shot within the desert, two hours away from the place “Saul” usually shoots in Albuquerque. The shootout scene, alone, took a number of days to drag off.

“It was one thing I used to be very a lot trying ahead to, though I used to be nervous about pulling it off,” Gilligan tells Selection. “A lot occurs. I feel it was most likely probably the most sophisticated single scene I’ve ever directed, and that’s counting the film [‘El Camino’] and all the things I’ve ever accomplished. Going again to the ‘X-Information.’ It’s monumental.”

With Jimmy/Saul now all in — and indebted to Mike for saving his life — “Higher Name Saul” is now heading quick towards the occasions of “Breaking Unhealthy.” Gilligan is again within the writers’ room (having beforehand stepped away from the present), which is at the moment breaking the present’s sixth and remaining season.

Right here, Selection catches up with Gilligan to debate “Bagman,” and what’s coming subsequent.

That’s good. I like that. We did use a protracted lens. We have been making an attempt to determine find out how to make it as “Lawrence”-like as attainable. To the purpose the place [co-creator] Peter Gould needed to look into renting the precise “Lawrence” lens, which is seemingly nonetheless on the market, and perhaps even nonetheless out there for lease. That might have been good vibes, however I used to be I used to be too afraid we’d break it!

A typical schedule is a nine-day schedule, however we knew proper from the get-go that this might be greater than 9 days. I feel our unique thought was perhaps it will be 11 days. Finally it was one episode for the worth of two. I feel we wound up going someplace round 17 or 18 days. I used to be a Megillah, it was one thing else.

There was a slot I might match into [to direct an episode] as soon as I completed up the publish manufacturing for “El Camino.” And so I mentioned to [executive producer] Melissa Bernstein and Peter Gould, “For those who guys need me, it will develop into Episode No. 8.” And Peter began rubbing his fingers collectively. He mentioned, “Oh man, we’re going to offer you a superb one!” And I might examine in with him each every so often, because the months glided by they usually have been working away within the writers’ room. And Peter would say to me, “Oh man, it’s gonna be a giant one.” I began to get nervous. And Gordon Smith was writing it, and I ‘d say to Gordon, “Is he telling me the reality or is he simply messing with me?” And Gordon would simply shake his head.

It was fact in promoting. After I learn it I believed, “How are we going to do that?” It has to shoot approach out within the desert, which makes all the things tougher — as a result of you must convey your personal water and your personal all the things. You’ve bought to convey all the things that you just’d usually discover on a soundstage. However I feel it was two hours door-to-door from the place I keep in Albuquerque to the set, and people are these are hours that you just that you just don’t get again. So we wound up staying at Route 66 On line casino approach out on Interstate 40, which was very nice house to us for a few weeks, and that lower an hour out of the drive. However solely an hour. We nonetheless had an hour from there to the set, and when you’re on the market it was over 100 levels and there’s tarantulas and there’s these insanely harmful cacti, however primarily, it’s the solar and the dearth of water that may simply kill you on the market.

I needed Bob to be technique and drink his personal pee. He’s fairly technique, however he drew the road at that. However yeah, these, these prop baggage of cash would weigh 150 kilos. Mark Hanson, our prop grasp, found out that every bag would weigh 75 kilos for a complete of 150, in the event that they have been actual. That’s how a lot $7 million in a whole bunch really weighs, imagine it or not. Bob needed them fairly heavy, however not that heavy. And I feel as the times progressed, the prop baggage bought a little bit lighter and a little bit lighter. As a result of it was tough.

I used to be so fortunate to attract such an incredible script and the issues that occur in it. What Gordon and Peter and the writers got here up with, they’re going to be keystone moments all through the entire universe between the 2 reveals. There are these massive moments, the place Mike and Saul/Jimmy actually sort of bond, that’s a giant one. We had gone a number of seasons with out Jimmy spending a lot time with Mike. We have been at all times unhappy about that, however you must you must go the place the story takes you, and the story took these two characters away from each other for fairly quite a few episodes. So attending to have actually concentrated scenes between these two characters, in essence get to direct a two-hander between these two characters, was a giant honor for me.

Yeah. No kidding. That’s the reality.

There are such a lot of beats in it and it was essential, simply primarily based on my learn of the script, to play the entire thing as a lot as attainable from Saul’s perspective. Pre-shootout, shootout after which the post-shootout moments. And that made it a bit tough, by way of desirous to have Bob Odenkirk in each shot if attainable. There are one or two photographs that he’s not really in, however I might hope not less than 90% of the photographs embody him in it, even when he’s a little bit tiny character within the background. He virtually will get killed after which the capturing begins after which he has to cover out. He sees one other car coming after which all these different autos must get their tires shot out in order that they’re not viable technique of escape for Mike and Jimmy later. Jimmy’s personal automobile must be shot, besides in a approach that makes it drivable — however not for lengthy.

There have been so many little moments that needed to be serviced. It was enormous and it was exhausting to shoot for everybody, for the crew, definitely for Bob, and the entire stuntmen who did such an exquisite job enjoying these dangerous guys, that gang of robbers. And it’s with the solar beating down on us all day lengthy. I imagine it took 4 and a half or 5 days to shoot. I don’t know that I’ve ever labored on one scene that lengthy or that tough earlier than, and once we lastly bought by way of it, it felt like an incredible weight was lifted off of us. However then we realized, “Oh my god we bought the entire remainder of this episode to go, there’s a lot extra to shoot.” It was massive.

They’re cartel-adjacent. Within the teaser, you see the middle-aged gentleman who appears to be answerable for “Salamanca treasure cave” as we known as it — that warehouse full of unique vehicles after which hundreds of kilos of money and the counting room and all that. He appears to be answerable for the ability, and on the finish of that teaser appears to be ratting out the cousins. To who, Peter, Gordon and the writers know however I don’t assume now we have established that but for the viewers.

He’s a cheerful go fortunate so-and-so, isn’t he? He’s going to get pleasure from life even when he’s locked up in some crappy jail. He doesn’t let issues get to him. If he wasn’t such a psychotic, motoring maniac, he be plenty of enjoyable to hang around. You’d need to go have a cerveza with him. He’s enjoyable and he’s bought charisma and he’s bought a humorousness. And he appears to maintain fairly happy-go-lucky in a really enticing approach. Nevertheless it’s the form of pointless sociopathic murdering of individuals that could be a bit off-putting. Type of balances the size within the different route.

It tees issues up for 2 killer episodes which can be developing subsequent. Episodes 9 and 10, they’re simply massive and there’s a lot stuff that’s going to occur developing subsequent. I can’t await audiences to see it. This present is on rails from right here on out. It simply goes, there’s simply a lot stuff happening. And these worlds actually proceed to collide, just like the Hindenburg crashing into Lakehurst, N.J. The disaster retains getting greater and greater, between Saul Goodman’s world and the world of the cartel and Gus Fring and Mike Ehrmantraut and Nacho Varga and Lalo Salamanca. There’s every kind of massive stuff developing and I can’t await audiences to see it.

We’re plugging away. We’ve been doing video teleconferencing in order that we’re having a digital writers’ room. Peter and all of the writers and myself are all joined along with the help of web know-how and sort of hate it. However it’s wonderful know-how, it’s not anybody know-how we hate, we simply form of hate having to do it typically. We’d a lot slightly be in individual, having fun with one another’s bodily firm. And it’s a little bit tougher to make it work with the web typically lagging, folks have a tendency to speak over one another with out which means to and looking at an iPad all day for hours on finish, is making me really concern for my eyesight.

Nevertheless it’s higher than not working, and we’re really fairly productive with it, and I’m completely happy to be again within the room. I hate that every one this loopy virus crap is happening however I’m completely happy to truly be within the room proper now, with all this insanity happening. It really provides my life a construction it most likely wouldn’t in any other case have. So I’m fortunate that they needed me again and I’m having a good time doing no matter I can do to assist. I must stress that they don’t want me, they did simply high quality in Season 5 with out me, and I’m simply completely happy to be again, having no matter small half I can have within the breaking of the ultimate season.

“Higher Name Saul” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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