‘Better Call Saul’: One Piece of Advice Made the Last Scene in Season 6’s Midseason Finale Even More Shocking (2022)

Writer/director Tom Schnauz explains to IndieWire how a simpler approach and a respect for everyone’s intelligence has led to two chillingly memorable episode-ending showdowns.

[Editor’s note: The following review containsspoilersfor “Better Call Saul” Season 6, Episode 7, “Plan and Execution.”]

Of all the things on “Better Call Saul” to happen by accident, “one person directing two episodes in back-to-back seasons that heavily feature a dangerous showdown in an apartment living room” doesn’t seem like one of them. Yet, two years after “Bad Choice Road” found Kim (Rhea Seehorn), Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk), and Lalo (Tony Dalton) converging on the same Albuquerque unit square footage, the trio had an unexpected reunion in the show’s Season 6 midseason finale.

This time, that convergence of fates had a far bloodier end, with Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) meeting an untimely end via Lalo’s patiently assembled silencer. Yet, with those similarities, it was far from preordained that Tom Schnauz — who wrote and directed “Bad Choice Road” — would serve in both roles again for “Plan and Execution.”

Related

Related

  • New Movies: Release Calendar for October 14, Plus Where to Watch the Latest Films
  • Best Movies Never Made: 40 Lost Projects from Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, and More

“It was absolutely a total coincidence. Because I do most of the index card writing in the room, instead of going away and being on set early in the season, which was going to happen before COVID and the shutdown. Normally, we start shooting right around Episode 7, 8, 9. But things just didn’t overlap. We ended up breaking the whole season, and then going to shoot just because of all the delays that we had,” Schnauz said.

That little bit of destiny brought Schnauz back to another bone-chilling ending sequence, but the episode itself is far more than the death in the closing seconds that gives the title its double meaning. Schnauz spoke with IndieWire about fulfilling the promise of “D-Day,” character intelligence, and what it took to get the final showdown’s big signifier just right.

(Video) Why Better Call Saul Has The Perfect Ending

IndieWire: This episode is a real balancing act of success and failure. How did you make sure you didn’t tip too far in either direction on any of the different sides here?

Tom Schnauz:We knew that Jimmy and Kim’s plan was going to be successful. But that wouldn’t be satisfying storytelling for them to win and walk away from it. And much like in “Breaking Bad” when we did the train robbery episode, we knew Walt and Jesse were going to be successful in stealing this methylamine. I remember in the writers room, Sam Catlin, a writer for that show, said, “Well, what if a kid gets shot?” He just threw that out from somewhere in his brain, talking with George Mastras on one side of the table. I heard that I was like, wow, that’s really insane.

So that was just stealing from our past of the successful scams. It just so happened that it felt like it was the time for the two different worlds to come together, the cartel world and the scam world, to meet head on and for something really, really horrible to happen. It could have extended out and Lalo could have tortured Howard. But he doesn’t know this guy, and just for simplicity’s sake and putting the fear of God into Jimmy and Kim, he just shoots him in the head.

‘Better Call Saul’: One Piece of Advice Made the Last Scene in Season 6’s Midseason Finale Even More Shocking (1)

“Better Call Saul”

(Video) Better Call Saul: Ending Explained | Breaking the Cycle

Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Aside from the reveal of Jimmy’s man on the inside at HHM, most of this episode isn’t really built on surprises. It’s more following through what the previous episodes have been meticulously putting in motion.

We don’t tend to do too many twists. One of the things we talked a lot about is “When do we reveal the fact that Jimmy placed this private investigator into Howard’s circle?” We had seen back in Season 3, Chuck had a private investigator ready for him when when Jimmy bursts through his door. Jimmy knew that that was going to be in the cards, so they came up with this idea of changing the phone number in the system. That just felt like a fun surprise to have in this episode.

Obviously, Season 6 got broken up into two parts. Did you know that this was going to be the midseason finale?

We didn’t know that. We just wrote and broke the whole season and started writing and shooting without knowing that there was going to be a split.

It must be nice to know that it still really worked that way.

We really tend to write everything as a “cliffhanger.” Last week’s episode with Kim turning around on the road. Certainly, if we ended there, people would be wondering “What the hell’s Kim going to do?” And the episode after this, everything hopefully ends in a way that people will want to come back and see the next one. This one just happened to end on a very brutal cliffhanger, which we don’t do a lot. It’s just not a show where there’s a high body count. So when somebody does die, especially a major character like this, it has more impact.

Especially considering that this is his last episode, there’s something about Howard having the clarity of knowing exactly what’s happening at each step of this. Except for the photo swap, he’s not in the dark here at all.

We always come from a place of “these characters are not stupid.” They’re very, very smart. And Howard is a tough one to get over on. They did it perfectly. But they knew he was going to figure it out. So they had to construct this plan that, even if he figures it out and tells Cliff the entire truth that by the time he does figure it out that it has ruined the negotiating process. That was that was how they constructed their whole plan. One of my favorite lines that I got to write for this is when Howard tells Schweikart, “I know it all sounds a bit baroque.” And it is! It’s just so weird and complex.

(Video) Better Call Saul Season 6 Episode 7 Breakdown | Recap & Review

This is a show that tends to mirror itself. I wonder if subconsciously people might recognize that this is another apartment standoff. And if the last one ended with Lalo walking out and everyone being spared, then maybe they’ll assume that the same is going to be true for Howard.

That was definitely part of the thinking of making Howard’s death so sudden and shocking. When Lalo walks in, we probably think it’s gonna be another epic psychological torture session, the lengthy 18-minute scene from [Episode] 509. Instead, he just doesn’t have time for this anymore. He just resorts to brute force. He doesn’t know who he is, he just needs to get this guy.

‘Better Call Saul’: One Piece of Advice Made the Last Scene in Season 6’s Midseason Finale Even More Shocking (2)

“Better Call Saul”

Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

(Video) The Better Call Saul And Breaking Bad Timeline Explained

There’s a moment in Howard’s monologue as he’s getting the glasses from the cabinet when he casually drops in the nickname “Howie.” It’s such a gentle writing and performance touch that says so much about Howard’s motivations and what else is driving him besides his life falling apart.

I can’t say enough about the job that Patrick Fabian did in this episode. What a lineup of actors we have between Bob and Rhea and Michael Mando and Tony and Jon[athan] Banks. Everybody is so good. It’s a show about Jimmy McGill and Mike Ehrmantraut. They’re the two main characters. And there’s certainly been a lot of times where we wish we had used Patrick more. We were very happy to really give Patrick a lot of good scenes this season and in this episode. It’s one of the first times he had a whole act, in that boardroom scene, which is all about him getting ready for the meeting and then realizing the truth. So it was it was just good to have been able to work with Patrick on that scene and let him show his stuff.

That boardroom scene really feels like Howard has become this interesting synthesis of Jimmy and Gus. So many of the major players in this story are so detail-oriented and focused that you can see how they’re all drawn toward each other.

It’s a credit to our actors. When we started this series, Howard Hamlin was going to be the bad guy. We didn’t know about Chuck’s double-cross. We had none of that planned when we started Season 1. And just like with Rhea Seehorn and what she brought to the character, all these characters developed because of the actors we had and what they brought to them. So if it wasn’t for Patrick, I don’t think Howard would be the character that he is.

Jimmy and Kim in those final seconds is what really sells the true horror of what’s happening, especially when they’re processing everything that’s happening out loud. How did you talk about the kind of reactions you were looking for from them and was there a range you played around with?

Lalo walking in was the toughest moment because they have different sets of information. Kim knows that Lalo Salamanca’s alive and out there. Jimmy sees a ghost walking through the door. He’s in complete shock, which is why I played more of it on Jimmy’s face. We did a whole range of shots for this entrance. I tried to be very fancy and I did all these close-ups of Bob’s eye and of his pupil dilating. If you remember in 509, the juicer scene, I did these intercuts. I did the same thing. I set two cameras up on Bob’s face, thinking I was going to cut between the two and do this whole shocking visual explosion for when Lalo walks through the door. My editor Skip Macdonald and I, we edited it six ways to Sunday and none of them were right.

(Video) Kim & Jimmy Happy Ending? | Better Call Saul Season 6 Episode 8 Teaser

In the end, we actually sent the version to AMC and Sony with the flashier eyeball. They give very few notes but they were like, “Do we really need the Hitchcock pupil?” I looked at it again and I thought that simpler is better for this moment, just this dark shadow coming in behind Patrick. Having Bob’s great reaction was the way to go with this. When it came to Howard getting shot in the head, I just let Bob and Rhea do whatever they were gonna do, reacting to this person getting shot in front of them. I didn’t give them any directions. I just let them do their thing. And they did it amazingly.

“Better Call Saul” will return for the final episodes of Season 6 beginning July 11. All previous Season 6 episodes are available on AMC+.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

FAQs

What was the point of episode 10 season 6 of Better Call Saul? ›

“Nippy” is about the pleasure he derives from working those atrophied Saul Goodman muscles back into shape. First, he establishes a relationship with the two night security guys by offering free cinnamon rolls as a thank-you for the time one of them helped him in an emergency.

What does the last episode of Better Call Saul mean? ›

After being sworn in, Saul pulls a 180 and confesses to all of his crimes with Walter White, almost bragging about how Walt couldn't have built his drug empire and stayed out of prison without him. Saul also confesses about how he sabotaged his brother Chuck McGill's (Michael McKean) career, which led to his suicide.

Who is the guy in Better Call Saul season 6 episode 10? ›

As we know from previous episodes, Gene Takovic is Jimmy McGill's post-Saul persona. It's an identity that was set up, in exchange for a very large sum of cash, by the vacuum repairman Ed Galbraith (whose card Jimmy and Kim came across earlier this season in the crooked vet's little black book).

What was the point of episode 10 of Better Call Saul? ›

After blowing up his life as Saul Goodman and getting precariously close to cartel business, Gene cannot help the pull he feels toward his former life. Even though he could be discovered at any moment, whisked off to jail or worse, Gene still watches his old showy ads.

Will Walter White show up in Better Call Saul? ›

Yes, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman returned—but the episode was more than just an excuse for a cool cameo.

How did Jeffy know Saul? ›

Jeff, also known as Jeffie, is an eccentric and suspicious cab driver from Omaha, Nebraska, previously residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is the son of Marion and a friend of Buddy. Jeff recognizes Jimmy McGill as Saul Goodman while Jimmy was under his Gene Takavic identity in Omaha.

Did Saul get 7 years or 86? ›

Instead of the seven-year plea bargain that would have been spent at the prison which had a golfing programme, Saul was sentenced to 86 years at ADX Montrose. Though he initially feared his reception, Saul enjoyed a warm welcome upon arrival as his notoriety as Saul Goodman preceded him in prison.

Will there be Better Call Saul 7? ›

But, thanks to the creative genius of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, it has also been one of the most rewarding." Since then, creator Vince Gilligan has explained why season six wound up being the final chapter (via The Hollywood Reporter): "You've got to know when to leave the party.

Was the Better Call Saul ending good? ›

Why Better Call Saul Has The Perfect Ending - YouTube

Why was Jeff replaced in Better Call Saul? ›

Why was the character of Jeff recast? Don Harvey played Jeff in season four and five of Better Call Saul but was replaced in Nippy by Pat Healy. Harvey wasn't fired from the show, in fact he had been scheduled to shoot the episode, but the dates for filming were changed when Bob Odenkirk suffered a heart attack on set.

Why did Gene cut the wire? ›

Once he gets near the wheelchair, Gene also cuts a wire to make sure he would take the elderly woman all the way back home. Gene's charming personality grants him an invitation for dinner, and when Marion's son returns home from work, we finally understand what's happening.

Who was the guy in Better Call Saul Nippy? ›

Bob Odenkirk is the only Better Call Saul regular to appear in "Nippy". His performance was praised.

Why was the episode called Nippy? ›

"Nippy" is a reference to Gene's supposed lost dog that he used as an excuse to meet Jeff's mother, Marion. This episode takes place entirely in Omaha, Nebraska, the only episode of either Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul to take place entirely outside of Albuquerque, primary setting of both shows.

Why is Better Call Saul in black and white? ›

Director Peter Gould's use of black and white to draw the viewer's eye and aid in the framing of his shots is spectacular. He reminds the viewer of classic black and white films while also underscoring and symbolizing Saul Goodman's journey out of darkness and toward the light.

Why is Nippy episode in black and white? ›

“Nippy” takes place entirely in the Gene Takovic timeline

The scenes appeared in black and white before returning to Jimmy McGill's life in full color. However, season 6 did not return to Gene Takovic for the premiere. The show waited until “Nippy” to give a full-length Gene episode shot entirely in black and white.

Is Walt a sociopath? ›

He believes in pride in his work, and there's no show of remorse in any of his acts of cruelty to get what he wants. The portrayal so far is that he's not a particularly intelligent sociopath, but he uses the tools he has — which means violence, for the most part.

Is Walter White Evil? ›

He is the main villain of the piece. He's not the only villain, he is not even the worst. But he is the villain that we spend the most time with and he is almost the entire focus of the series. What is the most evil thing Walter White did?

Will Walter White ever come back? ›

It was confirmed earlier this year that Cranston and Aaron Paul would indeed return as their iconic anti-heroes Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, respectively, in the Breaking Bad's successor and prequel.

How did Jeff recognize Gene? ›

Previously living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Jeff became a fan of lawyer and con artist Saul Goodman. In 2010, Jeff recognized Gene Takavic to be Goodman after picking him up from the hospital, and later confirmed it when visiting him in the mall.

When did Jeff recognize Saul? ›

Jeff recognizes Saul in the Season 5 premiere. That premiere aired back in February of 2020, well over two years ago.

How old is Saul Goodman? ›

When Saul Goodman is first introduced in season 2 of Breaking Bad, then, he's not long turned 48 years old, with Better Call Saul season 1 starting in 2002 when he's 41.

Is season 6 episode 10 The End of Better Call Saul? ›

"After all that, a happy ending," he says… except that this isn't the end. There are still a few more episodes to go, and no guarantee that it's going to end well for Saul Goodman.

Why Is Better Call Saul episode 10 black and white? ›

Unlike most shows, BCS uses black-and-white to show the present. The present being Saul post-”Breaking Bad,” where Saul is hiding out somewhere in the Midwest, managing a Cinnabon in a mall under an assumed name.

Why is Better Call Saul s6 e10 in black and white? ›

However, the entirety of season 6's tenth episode takes place in black and white as it is all from the perspective of Gene Takavic as he takes matters into his own hands after he was recognised as Saul Goodman by an eagle-eyed taxi driver.

Why did Gene cut the wire? ›

Once he gets near the wheelchair, Gene also cuts a wire to make sure he would take the elderly woman all the way back home. Gene's charming personality grants him an invitation for dinner, and when Marion's son returns home from work, we finally understand what's happening.

Will there be Better Call Saul 7? ›

But, thanks to the creative genius of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, it has also been one of the most rewarding." Since then, creator Vince Gilligan has explained why season six wound up being the final chapter (via The Hollywood Reporter): "You've got to know when to leave the party.

Why was the episode called Nippy? ›

"Nippy" is a reference to Gene's supposed lost dog that he used as an excuse to meet Jeff's mother, Marion. This episode takes place entirely in Omaha, Nebraska, the only episode of either Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul to take place entirely outside of Albuquerque, primary setting of both shows.

What happens to Kim Wexler in Better Call Saul? ›

The ultracompetent attorney who married Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), the man most likely to bring out the shadier side of her character, never appears in Breaking Bad, which led some viewers to assume she would die before Saul finished its run. But as Monday's series finale confirmed, Kim Wexler lives on.

Why was the cigarette in color Better Call Saul? ›

Then during the finale's cigarette scene, the cigarette itself and the flame were in color, harkening back to the beginning of Saul and Kim's relationship. “It started out in the pilot of 'Better Call Saul. ' Gene's watching his old commercials and they're reflected in color,” Gould said.

Who is the guy at the beginning of Nippy? ›

Jimmy McGill, under the guise of Gene Takavic, appears and offers his assistance, stealthily snipping the chair's power cables, and subsequently offering to push her to her home. He befriends her with stories of Nippy, his supposedly missing dog.

What is the significance of the Cinnabon scenes in Better Call Saul? ›

The fact that Saul Goodman is spending his time after Breaking Bad managing a Cinnabon in Omaha is a direct callback to the final conversation had between Saul and Walter White before they parted ways for good.

Why is Nippy episode in black and white? ›

“Nippy” takes place entirely in the Gene Takovic timeline

The scenes appeared in black and white before returning to Jimmy McGill's life in full color. However, season 6 did not return to Gene Takovic for the premiere. The show waited until “Nippy” to give a full-length Gene episode shot entirely in black and white.

Is the Cinnabon guy Saul? ›

Cinnabon appears in the first episode of every season of Better Call Saul, except for season 6. It is located inside a large Omaha, Nebraska shopping mall. Jimmy McGill, living under the false identity "Gene Takavic" is the store manager, depressed with his situation and longing to unearth his true passion as a lawyer.

Why was Don Harvey recast? ›

Why was the character of Jeff recast? Don Harvey played Jeff in season four and five of Better Call Saul but was replaced in Nippy by Pat Healy. Harvey wasn't fired from the show, in fact he had been scheduled to shoot the episode, but the dates for filming were changed when Bob Odenkirk suffered a heart attack on set.

How did Marion know Gene was Saul? ›

In drafting Marion (Carol Burnett) to bail out Jeff, Gene tripped the wrong curiosity wires in that sharp, not-to-be-underestimated Marion. With the help of Ask Jeeves, she realized that he was actually Albuquerque conman Saul Goodman.

Why is Saul black and white? ›

Director Peter Gould's use of black and white to draw the viewer's eye and aid in the framing of his shots is spectacular. He reminds the viewer of classic black and white films while also underscoring and symbolizing Saul Goodman's journey out of darkness and toward the light.

Who is the Cinnabon guy in Better Call Saul? ›

In earlier seasons, real-life Cinnabon employees played extras in the bakery scenes, but that's no longer the case. These days, Saul Goodman's co-workers — sorry, Gene Takavic's co-workers — are merely actors portraying Cinnabon employees.

Videos

1. 'Better Call Saul' Fan Theories with Bob Odenkirk & Rhea Seehorn | Vanity Fair
(Vanity Fair)
2. Better Call Saul Season 6 Episode 7 'Plan and Execution' Mid-Season Finale REACTION!!
(Nikki & Steven React)
3. Hidden Details YOU MISSED! Better Call Saul 613 Easter Eggs + Ending BREAKDOWN!
(TheVividKiWi)
4. Better Call Saul - 6x13 Saul Gone - Finale Reaction
(The Normies)
5. Season 6 Episode 7 REVIEW + RECAP Better Call Saul
(TheVividKiWi)
6. Better Call Saul 6x07 Reaction
(LM Reactions)

Top Articles

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Kelle Weber

Last Updated: 10/30/2022

Views: 5939

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kelle Weber

Birthday: 2000-08-05

Address: 6796 Juan Square, Markfort, MN 58988

Phone: +8215934114615

Job: Hospitality Director

Hobby: tabletop games, Foreign language learning, Leather crafting, Horseback riding, Swimming, Knapping, Handball

Introduction: My name is Kelle Weber, I am a magnificent, enchanting, fair, joyous, light, determined, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.