[Editor’s note: This interview contains spoilers from last night’s episode of Better Call Saul, “Point And Shoot.” Please watch the episode before reading on.]
We’ve been waiting for this since May Better call Saul to continue its sixth season – even though it feels much longer – especially after Howard Hamlin’s (Patrick Fabian) shocking cliffhanger. What better or more sinister way for Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) to get back into the lives of Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) than blowing it all up, right? After the midseason premiere titled “Point And Shoot,” we now know that the six-week hiatus was worth it. When Lalo embroils Jimmy and Kim in his vendetta against Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), all hell breaks loose – and not in Lalo’s favor.
With only five more episodes of The Beloved breaking Bad spin off, Saul Showrunner Peter Gould speaks along The AV Club about Lalo and his amazing actor Tony Dalton, how the events of this episode will impact this prelude to the series finale, and how TV legend Carol Burnett ended up filming them Better call Saul guest appearance.
The AV Club: Plan and Execution ended with the shock of Howard’s brutal, unexpected death, and Kim and Jimmy lived out the horror show with Lalo’s performance. How did you decide that the midseason premiere would close this chapter of Lalo vs. Gus?
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Peter Gould: Just to state the obvious: when we broke these episodes so long ago, we had no idea there would be a break down the middle. We just thought episode seven was a good ending to an episode. Little did we know we were going to make people wait six weeks to see the other part.
A big part of our thinking had to be, what is Lalo’s plan? This is one of the things that’s so difficult because we have a lot of characters on the show who are very smart. I mean nobody’s smarter than Gus Fring. Except that Lalo seems to put up a fight for his money, somewhat through intellect and also through sheer tenacity and a willingness to drop bodies where they can. But we really wanted to find a way to see these two guys face to face, which of course meant Lalo felt the same way and took Mike out of the equation, at least long enough for Lalo to get a glimpse of Super Lab. If Gus shows up, it’s a bonus for Lalo. Boy are things really going in Lalo’s favor, or so it seems for a while.
AVC: It must have been hard letting go of this fantastic villain, one of the greats in the world Better call Saul/breaking Bad Universe brilliantly played by Tony Dalton.
PG: Oh yeah. I mean, look, we love each other [him]. Lalo is just a great character. And Tony, Lalo wouldn’t be a great character if Tony didn’t play him. Much of his swagger and Errol Flynn-like abilities come from Tony. He really is like a cross between a cartel killer and a 1940’s movie star. It was very sad to say goodbye to Tony and goodbye to Lalo. But we must abide by the rules that we have set. And we know that Gus Fring is alive and well and doing business a few years later when we meet him breaking Bad. None of us saw how that could be possible when Lalo is still out there with plans to get revenge on Gus. And we also had this line in there breaking Bad where Gus tells Hector that he is the last surviving Salamanca. You must dance with the one who brought you. But other than that, boy, what a run for Tony Dalton as Lalo. Anyone who works on the show would love to work with Tony again.
AVC: Lalo obviously grew up with Tio Salamanca or was very close to him. But he seems to be the smartest of the Salamancas. We all agree on that, right?
PG: He’s the smartest, yes. He seems a little more in control than Tuco. And of course there is this picture. I don’t know if you noticed but in the previous episode there is a photo in Hector’s room showing Hector and the twins and Tuco as children. So I think Lalo must have had some other influences than everyone else, either the twins, who were stone cold killers and almost wordless, and Tuco, who I don’t think can buckle up enough to navigate high society. But then there’s Lalo, who can travel to Europe and blend in. That’s a very special ability when it comes to the Salamancas.
AVC: Let’s get to Jimmy and Kim. When he tries to convince her to leave the apartment, he tries to save her life. And there’s a moment when he looks her in the eye, and it feels like he’s not just relieved that she’s agreed to go, but almost assuming this is goodbye?
PG: Oh yeah. Jimmy has a feeling that anyone left in the apartment will die. How to trust Lalo Salamanca? Even if Jimmy or Kim can complete this task he gave him at the beginning then eventually it falls to Kim when they come back, what will really happen? Jimmy knows that in this moment he is sacrificing himself. And interestingly, you see Jimmy trying to find a nook even with Lalo in the apartment. At first you think it’s obvious, but then you realize he’s trying to trade his life for Kim’s and he wants her to be safe. He’s ready to take on the music with Lalo. Of course, when he’s left alone with Lalo, he’s figured out that Jimmy’s connection to Nacho means he could have been part of some enemy action. He’s right to think so. In fact, if Lalo lost what he wanted Jimmy to do, I think Jimmy would be dead on the floor right next to Howard Hamlin.
AVC: Looking back at the last few episodes, Kim had this very important piece of information about Lalo being alive, but she didn’t trust Jimmy enough to share it with him. How will Jimmy deal with this?
PG: Well that’s a great question and it seems he’s about to find out. There’s definitely more to come. How does he find out? what is his answer How does Kim react when he finds out she knew Lalo was alive? Yes, there is a lot more history between these two.
AVC: The bigger issue is how are they going to live with themselves and each other after their plan to humiliate Howard went in a direction they couldn’t foresee? It feels like the marriage is now at risk as big as Lalo’s gun.
PG: Boy I love the way you say that. I agree with every word you just said. Her rage to trick Howard was sort of an aphrodisiac for both of them, and also an odd sort of hobby for two adults, but it kind of worked for them. This had terrible consequences. How will they live with what just happened? Although we’re just thinking about that for now, how will they survive the next 24 hours? So we’ll have to see what effect that has on them.
AVC: Mike has been trying to help them get through the next 24 hours and it seems like he feels guilty about the death toll because he realized all these things have been snowballing since he Kim took off Jimmy and the watch.
PG: That’s right. Mike has said in previous episodes that they are stretched thin. The Fring organization, powerful as it is, is not the Secret Service. There’s only a limited number of these very trustworthy guys that Mike has. Lalo took a step that neither Gus nor Mike expected. This is Lalo’s honor. He caught both Gustavo Fring and Mike Ehrmantraut on the wrong foot. Not many people have done that yet. Of course, Gus also caught Mike off guard by deciding to go to the laundry himself without telling Mike. You can see these two guys retreat to their separate corners at the very end of the episode. Their relationship has changed a bit. The truth is, these two guys are as attached to each other now as they are becoming breaking Bad. I mean Mike made his choice. He got involved with Gus. Maybe next time Gus Mike will say may be. I do not know. He seemed to keep Mike very much in the dark breaking Bad.
I just have to say I skipped over how incredible Bob and Rhea are in this episode. Seeing these two characters in this extreme, extreme situation, I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of them do the things that they did in this episode. Vince Gilligan directed and Gordon Smith wrote it. It’s very special. I can’t wait for the whole world to see the final series of episodes because this might be the best work we’ve ever done.
AVC: We know that Carol Burnett will appear as a character named Marion. How did your guest appearance come about?
PG: The short answer is Vince met Carol, and then I met Carol. I met her at Peabodys, where I overheard someone say to me, “Carol Burnett would like to meet you.” So, of course, my wife and I rushed to her table. You have no idea what a spectacular person she is. It’s not just the work she put in, but her warmth and generosity as a person. She is a special, special person. We were thrilled that she knew who we were and that she liked the show. As we were working on these episodes, a character came up, and the first thing we said was, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if Carol Burnett was willing to travel to Albuquerque and be on our show?” And I have to tell you say it was a dream come true. When you see what she does, it’s so much more than a cameo. She creates a character that people will truly love and be fascinated by.