[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for “Better Call Saul” Season 3, as well as details regarding the upcoming Season 4.]
It’s been a long wait for the return of “Better Call Saul,” which last aired in June 2017 with a rather fiery finale. Now, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is back, and the death of his brother (Michael McKean) — after their final clash — will continue to haunt him. And across town, the rise of Gus Fring’s power will bring “Better Call Saul” closer to the dawn of “Breaking Bad.”
Executive producer and showrunner Peter Gould — who is overseeing the show as co-creator Vince Gilligan moves on to other projects — is putting the finishing touches in the editing room on Season 4, which returns August 6 on AMC.
As a refresher, “Lantern,” the 10th episode of Season 3, started with Kim (Rhea Seehorn) in the hospital and in a cast, after the overworked lawyer had fallen asleep behind the wheel. Jimmy felt he was to blame, and decides to try and patch things up with Chuck — who instead rails against his brother. Chuck, who had just forcibly bought out of his legal firm partnership, later destroys his house (setting it on fire) while looking for a power source. Across town, during a meeting with Gus, Hector (whose pills had been replaced by Nacho) has a heart attack.
The “Better Call Saul” producers and stars are notoriously mum when it comes to spoilers, but through various panels and interviews — including one conducted by IndieWire with Odenkirk and Gilligan at the recent ATX Television Festival — we have some hints about what’s in store for Season 4:
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Chuck McGill may be dead, but he’ll still make an appearance — and have a tremendous impact — on Season 4.
“I think he really still looms large, particularly over this season,” said executive producer Melissa Bernstein. “We’re going to see him, we’re going to see Michael, we’re going to see Chuck, and we’re going to feel him even when we don’t see him. He has such a profound effect on Jimmy and of course, Saul.”
Odenkirk says Jimmy is “in a weird place” when the season starts.
“I think much of it’s defined by that last conversation that he had with his brother, Chuck. Where Chuck told him basically, ‘You never mattered to me at all.’ And I think that was a powerful moment. If someone passes away in your life, you certainly do go, ‘What was the last thing they said to me? What was the last thing we talked about?’
“And that’s the last thing Jimmy, that’s what Jimmy thinks about when he thinks, ‘What did I say to him? What did he say to me?’ So it resonates in his experience of trying to figure out who he is and what that means to him.
“I mean, that’s the whole fourth season and I honestly would say it’s the rest of Jimmy McGill’s life, is a response to understanding that moment and what it meant to him. And how he should take and what he should do with the emotion that’s left after that experience of that conversation.”
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The relationship between Jimmy and Kim will expand greatly.
“It’s overt in Season 4,” Odenkirk said. “And it is rich. As rich as a real relationship can be represented. There are levels in Season 4 that you have never seen. In every direction.
“There are some complex moments with the two characters in Season 4 that you are not used to seeing on television, or anywhere almost,” he said. “These moments that we have with Kim and Jimmy, where the two characters exhale and share a moment together… it makes you go, ‘Wow, they have an incredible relationship, I hope this lasts forever.’
“But they’re probably not gonna last forever. I don’t know what Saul Goodman does in ‘Breaking Bad’ when he goes home. Maybe Kim’s there. I don’t think so.”
The post-“Breaking Bad” future, with Gene working at a Cinnabon in Omaha, will be further explored this season, and possibly more extensively in future years.
“There will be more to it than you’ve ever seen,” Odenkirk said.
Added Gilligan: “In Omaha, there is the possibility for redemption. People want to see characters that they love be redeemed. So I don’t want to promise, but there is a possibility.
Writer Gordon Smith said the Omaha storyline is frequently discussed in the “Better Call Saul” writers’ room. “Unlike ‘Breaking Bad,’ this is Jimmy McGill’s story and it doesn’t end with what happens to Walter White. We know that he lives,” Smith said. “He’s got a story that we’re very interested in figuring out, what is the state of Gene’s soul? Is there a redemption for him? We talk about it a lot. It usually gets distilled to one teaser, but we’re always like, what can we do with this, where can this go? What is this world like, and what is living in it like? There’s more conversation than actual screen time, but it’s something we want to explore.”
Walter White and Jesse Pinkman aren’t showing up — yet.
“I gotta tell you, as a fan, I would be sorely disappointed if we never saw Jesse or Walt,” Gilligan said. “We gotta be a little coy, but I’m pretty sure I’m speaking for Peter when I say, we never liked to misdirect people.
“So, you know, don’t hold your breath for Season 4 with Walt and Jesse. But there is a character who is going be a whole lot of fun. And was, in a very roundabout way.”
That character is Lalo, who Saul briefly name checks in “Better Call Saul.” He’ll be a major character this season.
“Everyone’s saying who the hell is Lalo is,” Gilligan said. “If you don’t know who Lalo is yet you’re going to see and you’re going to be impressed with Lalo.”
Get ready for things to get more existential in Season 4.
“It gets darker, it gets richer,” Gilligan said. “It’s still got funny in it, God forbid that ever goes away completely. On the Venn diagram of ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Better Call Saul,’ it’s overlapping and the center is getting bigger and bigger.”