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

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SPOILER ALERT: Don’t learn forward when you’ve got 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 “buddy of the cartel,” as he represents the present’s present major villain — Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton), at the moment behind bars on homicide expenses.

In Episode 8, “Bagman,” after Jimmy/Saul manages to trick the choose into setting bail (due to info from Mike Ehrmantraut), Lalo dispatches him to the desert. It’s imagined to be simple, Jimmy/Saul tells a anxious 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 Dangerous,” there are at all times issues, 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 many of the would-be thieves.

One of many thieves will get away, nonetheless — and with their autos destroyed by the shootout, Jimmy/Saul and Mike are pressured 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 Dangerous.” It additionally gives extra foreshadowing for what in the end occurs between Jimmy and Kim, as Mike is incredulous that Jimmy advised his now-wife concerning the cash alternate. “She is aware of, she’s within the recreation 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 Dangerous” 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 whole profession.

In line 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 tug off.

“It was one thing I used to be very a lot wanting 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 difficult single scene I’ve ever directed, and that’s counting the film [‘El Camino’] and every little thing I’ve ever achieved. Going again to the ‘X-Recordsdata.’ 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 Dangerous.” 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 an extended lens. We have been making an attempt to determine tips on how to make it as “Lawrence”-like as attainable. To the purpose the place [co-creator] Peter Gould wished to look into renting the precise “Lawrence” lens, which is seemingly nonetheless on the market, and perhaps even nonetheless accessible for hire. 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 could be greater than 9 days. I feel our authentic thought was perhaps it might be 11 days. Finally it was one episode for the value 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 may match into [to direct an episode] as soon as I completed up the put up manufacturing for “El Camino.” And so I stated to [executive producer] Melissa Bernstein and Peter Gould, “For those who guys need me, it might grow to be Episode No. 8.” And Peter began rubbing his palms collectively. He stated, “Oh man, we’re going to offer you an excellent 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 an enormous 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 means out within the desert, which makes every little thing tougher — as a result of it’s important to deliver your personal water and your personal every little thing. You’ve acquired to deliver every little thing 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 means out on Interstate 40, which was very nice house to us for a few weeks, and that reduce 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 can simply kill you on the market.

I wished Bob to be methodology and drink his personal pee. He’s fairly methodology, 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 tons of truly weighs, consider it or not. Bob wished them fairly heavy, however not that heavy. And I feel as the times progressed, the prop baggage acquired somewhat lighter and somewhat lighter. As a result of it was tough.

I used to be so fortunate to attract such a fantastic 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 an enormous 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 it’s important to it’s important to 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 an enormous honor for me.

Yeah. No kidding. That’s the reality.

There are such a lot of beats in it and it was vital, simply primarily based on my learn of the script, to play the entire thing as a lot as attainable from Saul’s viewpoint. Pre-shootout, shootout after which the post-shootout moments. And that made it a bit difficult, by way of desirous to have Bob Odenkirk in each shot if attainable. There are one or two pictures that he’s not truly in, however I might hope no less than 90% of the pictures embody him in it, even when he’s somewhat tiny character within the background. He nearly will get killed after which the taking pictures begins after which he has to cover out. He sees one other car coming after which all these different autos have to get their tires shot out in order that they’re not viable technique of escape for Mike and Jimmy later. Jimmy’s personal automotive must be shot, besides in a means that makes it drivable — however not for lengthy.

There have been so many little moments that needed to be serviced. It was large and it was exhausting to shoot for everybody, for the crew, definitely for Bob, and the entire stuntmen who did such a beautiful job taking part in these unhealthy guys, that gang of robbers. And it’s with the solar beating down on us all day lengthy. I consider 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 acquired by way of it, it felt like a fantastic weight was lifted off of us. However then we realized, “Oh my god we acquired 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 in control of “Salamanca treasure cave” as we referred to as it — that warehouse crammed with unique vehicles after which 1000’s of kilos of money and the counting room and all that. He appears to be in control of the power, 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 suppose 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 take pleasure in 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 numerous enjoyable to hang around. You’d need to go have a cerveza with him. He’s enjoyable and he’s acquired charisma and he’s acquired a humorousness. And he appears to maintain fairly happy-go-lucky in a really engaging means. Nevertheless it’s the kind of pointless sociopathic murdering of individuals that may be a bit off-putting. Form of balances the dimensions within the different course.

It tees issues up for 2 killer episodes which might 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 look forward to 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 larger and larger, 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 huge stuff developing and I can’t look forward to 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 superb know-how, it’s not anybody know-how we hate, we simply kind 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 somewhat tougher to make it work with the web generally lagging, individuals 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 truly concern for my eyesight.

Nevertheless it’s higher than not working, and we’re truly 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 occurring however I’m completely happy to really be within the room proper now, with all this insanity happening. It truly provides my life a construction it most likely wouldn’t in any other case have. So I’m fortunate that they wished me again and I’m having a good time doing no matter I can do to assist. I have to stress that they don’t want me, they did simply fantastic 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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