Highlights of the Better Call Saul Insider Podcast, Ep. 105 “Alpine Shepherd Boy”
Guests this episode are Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Rhea
Seehorn, and Jenn Carroll.
This episode was going to be called “Jello,” but they couldn’t
legally use the name. However, this was the episode title that generated the
idea for ending every episode of Season One with “-o”, and indeed, all the
other episodes in the season do so.
Chuck’s character was created primarily as one way of
meeting the challenge of how to ground Saul as a more rounded and emotionally
relatable character. (My note: Chuck makes Jimmy literally ground himself every
time he comes in the house!)
Their relationship was partially inspired by the
documentary Crumb, about the
cartoonist R. Crumb, a very weird and brilliant guy who gains depth once you
meet his brother, who is even weirder and perhaps more brilliant, but unable to
deal with life. Charles McGill was named after that brother, Charles Crumb.
One thing that intrigued the writers about Jimmy and Chuck’s
relationship is that, to paraphrase Vince Gilligan, if you put them together you
get the perfect lawyer. As Kelley Dixon puts it, one has street smarts and the other
has book smarts. The best insight, though, comes from Rhea Seehorn, who says
that the brothers show “the dangers of thinking that you are a saint, and the
dangers of thinking you’re basically bad… and that both are so corrupting.”
Big Ricky Sykes’s house was almost used for Gretchen and Elliot’s
house early in Breaking Bad.
Rhea Seehorn came to the set even for scenes she wasn’t in,
in order better to understand the workings of the show and her place in it.
also mentions the importance of the fact that on Better Call Saul, unlike most shows, dramatic moments are often
shown in wide shots and not just close-up. This forces actors to give their
best all the time, rather than “saving it for the close-up” like a lot of
In order to keep continuity with Breaking Bad, the writers and editors compiled all of Saul’s and
Mike’s scenes for careful study. The cut of all of Saul’s scenes from Breaking Bad lasts about three hours.
Nonetheless, Vince Gilligan prefers not to write or use a “show
bible” while writing a show, because he doesn’t want to have all the details
worked out beforehand, restricting his choices.
But his assistant, Jenn
Carroll, has been writing one with more of an encyclopedic approach, which
includes details such as, “Hamlin wears a wedding ring; Chuck wears a wedding
ring in the 103 teaser, but he doesn’t wear one in the present.”
While filming Tony the Toilet Buddy, the toilet lid broke
and the crew had to run around Albuquerque trying to find another lid that
would fit that toilet.
The nurse who calls security on Jimmy is the same one who will
later kick Jesse out of the hospital ward when Brock is poisoned in Breaking Bad (played by T.C. Warner).
Jimmy was originally supposed to paint Kim’s toenails red,
but since the bar scene in episode 102 had already focused heavily on a woman’s
red fingernails, Odenkirk and Seehorn changed it to blue (which is, anyway, a
more playful and less seemingly symbolic color).
Vince notes with his usual insight that while Jimmy is
usually very funny, he usually isn’t trying to make people laugh – it’s just a
natural gift he has. One exception is in the toenail painting scene with Kim, where
Jimmy is obviously trying to entertain her with his impression of Tony the
The nursing home where Jimmy tries to rustle up business is
the same one Hector Salamanca ends up in in Breaking
Jimmy’s charming comments to the elderly residents were
improvised by Bob Odenkirk.
Adoramos seus desenhos. Como e quando você começou a desenhar? Fico contente que gostaram! Eu comecei a desenhar bem cedo, e o responsável por isso foi meu pai. Apesar de não ser um artista profissional, ele é um cara muito criativo. Quando eu tinha uns 3 anos de idade, eu desenhei um caranguejo que o impressionou, e a partir daí ele não parou mais de me dar papel e caneta.
Você trabalha para alguma agência ou é freelancer?
Sou freelancer. Antes de arriscar a vida como autônomo, trabalhei por 8 anos como peão de almoxarifado. Foi uma experiência importante, mas eu sentia que aquilo estava matando meu potencial criativo. Artistas precisam de espaço para pensar. Mas trabalhar em agência deve ser bacana também!
Quem são seus favoritos no mundo da ilustração?
O maior ilustrador desse planeta, para mim, é o Picasso. Já no campo dos gênios mortais eu gosto muito do Bob Crumb, Roy Lichtenstein e da santa trindade: Angeli, Laerte e Glauco.
Rose was right. Mac-and-cheese and a riotous round of aliens vs. dinosaurs was more than enough for a three-year-old reveling in a night spent with his idolized big sister and basically brother-in-law. There was a reason the double-fudge cookies were kept on the highest pantry shelf. Multiple reasons, among these a second game of time-traveling extraterrestrial warfare which ended in plastic pterodactyls chucked at his head and a mile-high stack of picture books that must be read till his voice grows hoarse and Rose offers to take over, shooting him a smile that was more than a little smug.
The Doctor can’t resist hovering in the hall, watching the pair of them. Warm and soothing, Rose’s voice washes over him, recounting the oft-told tale of The Lonely Dinosaur. It’s one of Tony’s favorite stories and, anachronisms notwithstanding, one of the Doctor’s favorites, too. Everyone loves a good happily-ever-after.
Rose wets her finger to pry apart two stubborn pages, the culprit a strawberry-jam thumbprint on the corner of page fifteen. She picks at it with her thumbnail and shakes her head, lips twitching before rolling her eyes very obviously toward the half-open door. Reluctant to disturb Tony in response to the Doctor’s expression of wide-eyed perplexion, she mimes the pouring of a kettle and he nods his understanding.
“He’s asleep,” is the gleeful whisper she greets him with some ten minutes later in which time the Doctor has set out two cuppas and the remaining cookies, cleared a path through the clutter of pointy plastic army men and velociraptors, and started an (electric) fire in the hearth. Jackie and Pete refuse to invest in the real thing till Tony stops seeing anything forbidden as an invitation to unparalleled adventures. With the Doctor and Rose as role models, Jackie is fond of preaching, this could take a long time.
He doesn’t bother bragging, not when it all pales in comparison to Rose’s accomplishment.
“Rose Tyler, I don’t know how you do it.”
“Not giving in to his puppy eyes helps,” she says, rather dryly. Still, she wraps her hands over his, round the steaming mug of tea he offers, so she can’t be that mad.
“Especially when he asks for just one more cookie.”
“They remind me of yours a bit,” he wheedles. “All big and pleading - he can even squeeze out a little tear. Makes you want to do anything to make him smile again. Cookie?”
He hands her the package and she takes a couple, dunking one in her tea. Even with her eyes focused on the bobbing chocolate crumbs, Rose’s lips twitch in the shadow of a smile that he knows she won’t admit to if he prods her.
“Just trust me next time, yeah?”
“You’ll have ruling power of veto,” he promises.
“I’d better,” from over the rim of her mug she flashes him a tongue-touched smile, “else you’ll be stuck with bathtime and bedtime stories.”
Chuckling, the Doctor wraps an arm around her shoulders, drawing her close. Mug clasped tightly in her hands, she eases back against him. “Oh, I can think of worse things. Tony’s a good boy.”
“Mmm,” agrees Rose. “I was worried, when he was a baby, that he’d turn out like my cousins. He used to cry whenever I held him …”
“Tony loves you,” says the Doctor, tone brooking no room for argument.
“No, I know,” she angles her head to kiss the piece of chest visible between mismatched shirt buttons. “Think he just knew something was wrong, that I wasn’t - all the way here, yeah?”
“And are you? Now?”
“You’re here, aren’t you?” she says, and that’s answer enough. “I think Tony might be even happier than me. You know he asked Mum to get him a suit for Halloween?”
“You’re kidding.” The Doctor’s voice goes high-pitched in flattered disbelief. He can’t stop the pleased smile that spreads across his face, crinkling the corners of his eyes.
“Who else’ll watch old Star Treks with him?”
“And pause it every two seconds to answer every single question he has? Or play a dozen games of - whatever this is, in a row?”
“Aliens versus dinosaurs,” says the Doctor. “Then the army men were abducted by the aliens and allied themselves with the dinosaurs. Bit cliche, that. I’ll attribute it to overstimulation. His questions on Star Trek are usually very profound. You’re staring at me.”
“It’s sweet, Doctor.” He wrinkles his nose at the endearment, if only because he knows it will make her laugh and kiss him again. “Alright. Manly, then. S’pose I just thought - it’s different, seeing you like this. Good different,” she adds quickly.
“But different,” says the Doctor. “How?”
“We’ve never been around kids much, you and me. There was Chloe and Nancy and them, but that was never - and I know you were a dad once …”
“That was a long time ago.” The Doctor stares into the artificially crackling flames. “That was different.”
“I know.” Rose’s head drops to her own chest, leaving him incongruously cold and confused till he tugs her back, shaking his head against her hair in self-recrimination.
“Good different,” he echoes her. “Very good different. My people were telepathic, Rose, but we were also very practical. The familial bond, say, between a mother and daughter was more like - like a business partnership than what you and Jackie have.”
“Or like Tony with you?”
“Yes.” She cranes her neck to face him as he nods, chin colliding with her forehead. Worry lines are forming there and he runs a tender thumb along their length. “I’ve never had anyone look up to me like Tony has. Emotions only complicated things.”
“Is that why you ran away?”
“That’s … part of it.” He pauses, carefully measuring his words. “But it still followed me. I let some antiquated ideals rule my life for the longest time, dictate how I was allowed to feel for you, how close I could allow myself to get to you. What we have now we could have had ages ago.”
“But you’re here now.”
“I’m here now,” he agrees. “I’m with you. We’re sitting in front of a fake fire and our biggest worry is what Jackie will say over how many artificial flavors those cookies were full of. It’s still the realest thing in my life.”
“I think they’re organic, actually.” Rose shifts in his hold to read the bright foil packaging. Snorting, the Doctor pokes her ribs, then wraps his long fingers round her waist to pull her into him again; the other places her half-finished mug on the coffee table.
“Fine, ruin my romantic declaration.”
At least the granules of sugar that coat her bottom lip are reassuringly real, as is the way she moans his name when he sucks it into his mouth.