Breaking Down the Latest Episode of ‘Point and Shoot’ by ‘Better Call Saul” Writer

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This post contains Spoilers For the most recent episode of Better Call Saul, “Point and Shoot.”

This week’s Better Call SaulGordon Smith wrote the final script for the series. After entering the Heisenberg-verse as an office assistant and then Vince Gilligan’s assistant on Breaking BadAfter completing the prequel, he became a full-time author, writing some of its most memorable episodes. His first script was the harrowing Mike Ehrmantraut flashback episode “Five-O,” and in this final season he has written episodes that have killed off both Nacho Varga and, in tonight’s “Point and Shoot,” Lalo Salamanca.

This is our recap of “Point and Shoot” is here, and below, Smith discusses the surprising timing of Lalo’s death, why Saul Goodman would still seem so afraid of a dead man in his first appearance on Breaking BadThe challenge is now Saul Writers have had to make sure that their stories were consistent with the parent show’s.

Many people will be shocked that Lalo died while there were still so many episodes of the season. What is the reason for this?
Tony Dalton was our only interest, and we didn’t want to lose him. He’s incredible. He’s so much fun on set. We really didn’t want to lose the character, either. However, we felt like we had set the stage for these events, and we were witnessing these two titans of our story collide. We knew Gus would win, but we didn’t want to lose him. I suppose there was a world where Lalo limps away and Gus has to chase him down, but that felt like territory we’d already covered. We were pleased to give him an enormous, huge, and big thank you. He gets what is best for him. He’s been searching since the end of Season Four for something he thought was going on. He was on the hunt for Werner, following all the leads. So we gave Lalo the gift of getting everything — his heart’s desire — and it destroys him.

It is That why he’s laughing as he bleeds out?
Some of these are my thoughts. And that’s that look of, “Oh, you son of a bitch! I had you! I got you, and you just got lucky on the way out the door.”You can’t help but to laugh.

It’s obvious you all enjoyed writing for Tony and this character. What time did you spend trying to figure out how Lalo could be made more interesting over the past few seasons? NotTo die given Gus’s actions Breaking Bad?
There was a little bit of time, especially because we wanted to make sure that Jimmy/Saul’s fear of him could live if he died. What we ended up coming up with was that Jimmy fears him a lot, and he’s not going to believe — unless he sees the body himself — that Lalo’s dead. The guy’s already risen from the dead, as far as he’s concerned. We were more concerned with making sure that the fear lived on rather than the character. Although we would have loved for him to be with us, we also know that the fear was over. Breaking BadGus claims he has killed last Salamanca. They were all out going before Gus spoke to Hector.

In that desert scene on Saul’s first episode of Breaking Bad, Saul seems genuinely relieved Lalo didn’t send Walt and Jesse. So, he still fears that the bogeyman might be out there and coming after him?
Yes. I think that’s the idea. Before that gag, he said nothing. [in this episode] is, “It wasn’t me, it was Ignacio!”When the gag breaks, [on Breaking Bad], that’s the first thing he says. So I think there’s some sense memory going on for Jimmy/Saul, and he’s never going to outrun that fear. He doesn’t know how to feel other than Lalo sent something out there, and it might take him a while to get it back.

Jimmy and Nacho didn’t interact for long periods on this show. It was almost as if they never spoke. “It was Ignacio!” excuse wasn’t going to fit with what we were seeing, or not seeing, of their relationship. How aware were you of having to explain this line?
There was some disagreement about the need to explain it. Some people were more strongly on the side. “No, we really want to get to an explanation.”Others also felt this way “Eh, if we get to it, we get to it. No big deal. It won’t kill anything as long as we’ve done the dramatic work we were trying to do.”It was obvious that the people who wanted it in there won. Or, I hope that we won. I hope we’ve convinced the naysayers in the room, [who]It will remain anonymous because it was worth doing.

At this stage of the writing process, how difficult has it been to balance the needs of the story you’re telling on this show about Jimmy and Kim with making sure things reconcile with what happens on Breaking Bad?
I’m not sure the difficulty has increased. It’s always been very difficult to figure out all the pieces and where they cram into one another. There’s certainly been the heightened awareness that we were ending and we wanted to land the plane as gracefully as we could. I’m probably forgetting pieces that were out there. We had three storylines, essentially, that all needed to come to crisis and conclusion, and hopefully we’ve brought some of them to crisis and conclusion.

Saul Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan, the creators of the show, have spoken a lot about how difficult it is to make everything match up between the shows. Which episode has left you wondering what the worst was? 
I can tell that there is something, but it is not yet clear what it is. You will find some things in the back of this season. [where]We raised a flag. Some people felt we shouldn’t have, and we had to struggle to figure out how to pay it off. It did cause some anxiety during this last season.

You also wrote “Rock and Hard Place”This season, Nacho died, just like Lalo in the end, earlier than most viewers anticipated. Was there any talk about keeping him around past that?
Nacho probably could scrape a little longer. But there’s that diminishing return of seeing him get out of scrapes. Vince directed this amazing sequence in Tom [Schnauz]Ariel [Levine]’s episode of Nacho getting away from the Cousins when he’s trapped and almost certainly doomed at the hotel. And it’s like, how many times are you going to do that? We felt that we had to bring it up to a crescendo or we would be going under the water. We were sorry for losing him, but we enjoyed having him in our toolbox and Michael Mando on the series. However, we felt it was better that the character took control of the moment and steered his own destiny rather than being chased out.

Go back to Saul’s saying “It was Ignacio!”You can imagine Nacho’s first appearance. Breaking Bad. Is that something you ever considered?
We had many versions. We discussed this, to see if Nacho was in one of the versions. [on Breaking Bad]And [the audience] didn’t know about it. There were versions we talked about where he’s clearly planning to try to get his dad away to Canada, and he does it. It felt wrong to fulfill that dream and it felt disservice to his father and to many other things. We felt that everything was missing a true note, and that it left him dead. So, we decided to go for blaze of glory.

It was difficult to believe for a long time during this series. [on Breaking Bad] Saul believed Mike was just a guy who occasionally worked for him, and was ignorant of Mike’s primary employment. By this point, he obviously knows a lot more, even if he does not know specifically that Gus is Mike’s boss. What discussions have you had over the years about this question?
It was definitely a difficult hair to cut. Gus and Mike don’t get along. They’re very close and have a close working relationship, but Mike is willing within days to go work with the guy [Walter White]He was blown up. There’s not love there. There’s just respect. Similar to his relationship with Saul, it isn’t super close. There’s an arms-length-ness to it. It has something to do with the fact that he knew. Jimmy. He knew Jimmy McGill, as Jimmy McGill. He probably had more respect and admiration for him than I do. [developed]Less and less [Jimmy has] Saul-ified — as he’s fulfilled Chuck’s prophecies about him. But we certainly have tried to make sure that Jimmy runs into Gus at Pollos Hermanos, but he doesn’t know who he is. Also, I think there’s a willful ignorance on Saul’s part. After everything he’s gone through, up to and including this episode, I would not want to know who the puppet master was who was moving all these things around. It’s great that Mike works for him! But if he gets to know more than that, he’s in deeper than he wants to be. I think he’s learned that he’s a little bit in over his head in this part of the world.

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut - Better Call Saul _ Season 6, Episode 8 - Photo  Image Credits: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Jonathan Banks and Mike Ehrmantraut

Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

When you say it like that, I’m trying to imagine the scene where, after all of this has happened, Saul thinks to himself, “You know what’s a great idea? I should call Mike and ask him to do a job for me now.”
They’re a little bit blood-bonded. That’s the thing [we’ve] always felt, even as there were separate strands of the show that were weaving back towards each other, that those two characters felt integral to each other’s journey and metamorphosis. I believe it would give Mike pause and allow him to call Mike whenever he needs to. I don’t think it’s going to be an unweighted circumstance. But they’ve been there and pulled each other out in certain times. Mike will admit, reluctantly, that Jimmy did things that helped him. Jimmy’s the one who sets up the conditions for Mike killing the guy chasing him down in the desert.

Was Gus giving the speech to Don Eladio on the camcorder an attempt to let him say all the things he couldn’t in [the Breaking Bad episode] “Salud”When he finally got to murder him, since Gus was still recovering after the poison they both ingested.
I didn’t think of it in terms of “Salud,” honestly. It was like he took what Nacho did before he died and used it to his advantage. He saw that as Nacho was standing there spilling out all that stuff, Hector, all those people who could have killed him right then, they didn’t, because they all wanted to hear it, so their hate could be justified. This was written with Gus, who had learned a trick on that show and is now using it to his full advantage. Lalo should have everything he needs until he is able to maneuver himself to the perfect moment. Then, he should act.

You’ve all talked about how at a certain point, Better Call Saul Two shows evolved that sometimes interacted. The idea that these two shows were now permanently linked is symbolized by the way Howard and Lalo are buried together. Is that intentional?
That is a beautiful way to put it. I don’t know that the burial was. The fact that all of these things were gathered together was our way for saying, “No, no, this is why we’ve been doing these two things, because there was going to be a point where we brought these two things together.”It leads to death, it leads chaos, it leads directly to harm. As an image, it does exactly what you’re saying. I don’t think we consciously thought of that, but we debated it, when it was pitched in the room. Alison [Tatlock]It was pitched by Vince at the beginning, and it was a success. “Oh, it feels really good. But are we going too far? Does it feel too symbol-y?”Then we added, “Maybe it does, but it feels like such a good symbol, right?”

Is it possible that the DEA will dig up the foundation in the wake of Walt and Jesse’s fire at the Super Lab? Or Howard and Lalo will be there forever together?
Maybe they’d just leave them alone unless there was some way to find out if something is there. I don’t understand why you would want to dig up the floor. It’s a question of what you do with a condemned Super Lab? I don’t really know what the EPA rules are for conflagrations in mega Super Labs.

Jimmy had a plan other than getting Kim out of her apartment. Did he really think that she was going to shoot a stranger? Or did he just assume that she would run to a police station, or somewhere else safer?
The latter is my opinion. He probably knows that whoever lives in this house will die. However it plays out, he just thinks there’s no chance, and if he leaves Kim here with Lalo, she’s dead. I think he’s just, like, “Get out. I don’t care where you go. You go to the cops, that’s fine.” I think it’s a testament to how much Kim loves him that she makes it all the way to that door with a gun in her hand. Whether she could pull that trigger, I don’t know. I don’t know if she knows. It’s a situation of, “I don’t have to make a decision until the door is open,”And you push them off as long you can. Jimmy wouldn’t have believed it, but she went farther than I thought.

Also? Also, did we walk up to the front door? [in the Breaking Bad episode “Abiquiú”]We had to work out how she was looking at us from the high point. It was a lot of fun.

Finally, you’ve worked on these shows for more than a decade. This is your last credit Saul script. What is it like for your life to come to an end?
It feels… not great! It’s like I’m floating off the edge. It’s scary. This crew, these people, and all the characters made my life so enjoyable. I feel like I was also buried in Super Lab. I’m alive and I’m still clawing out. Hopefully, I’ll get some air and some daylight at some point, but not yet.

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