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Better Call Saul's Rhea Seehorn: I used to think Kim Wexler dying would be the most tragic thing

  • Seehorn says "I just don't have a clue" where Kim is headed in the sixth and final season after her stunning Season 5 finale. "I used to think the most tragic thing that could happen to her is that she dies," she says. "Then I started thinking, the erosion of someone right before your eyes… it's even worse. I really don't know." Seehorn adds that "I feel very lucky" to not know everything about Kim Wexler. "It used to be almost nerve-racking, until I realized that it's a great gift, that I don't know what the whole season holds in front of me when I'm getting the scripts," she says. "I get them one at a time, and thank god for that. By the time I figure out the most honest reasons for Kim to do the things and think the things the writers have me doing in each episode, my space is full. If I had to actually contemplate the next thing? My head would implode. So it's sometimes hard to think about a whole sweeping arc, and this one is messy. It's definitely not linear. At times, it's not obvious. It's complex, and the complexity adds to the honest of how I'm able to play it, because it's all very human and messy, with her confronting one thing at a time...The continuing question, which is always here in the series about all of these characters, is that intrinsic versus extrinsic quality in people. Some of these more impulsive reactions she's having to things, even before the finale, are more emotional than logical: anger, vulnerability, sadness, huge risk-taking. They're less thought out these days. By the time I got to the finale, I was asking myself, which of these things is real? Can you even ask that of anybody?"


    • Bob Odenkirk on Kim Wexler's evolution: "I think it all plays along with the fact that we really don’t know Kim," he says. "She’s been kind of a question mark that has grown bigger and more mysterious this season than every season. Who is she exactly? What made her? And how is she more than comfortable with occasionally letting her very rigid ethical standards just fall to pieces and blow away? She’s really the mystery of the show now. I think we’re past Jimmy turning into Saul, it’s been a wonderful journey. The question now is who is Kim?"
    • Co-creator Peter Gould on Kim's evolution: "One thing she’s learned from Jimmy is she can now see the shortest distance between two points," he says. "Jimmy's always seeing that there's a way to get what you want, which may not be following the rules. And for better or for worse, Kim has learned this way of looking at things. Maybe she had more of it than we thought when we met her, but she seems to be going down a very different road...Kim has a strong sense that she is the captain of her own ship. She decides what she does. And everything she has, she earned."
    • Gould on Rhea Seehorn's tour de force moment in Episode 9: "Rhea Seehorn is no longer a secret weapon, she is an incredible performer and she and Bob just work together so beautifully," he says. "Here we have a scene where, for the first time she’s meeting Tony (Dalton)’s character, Lalo, and between the three of them, it was combustion on screen. That was written and directed by Tom Schnauz, who has an incredible palate. The four of them worked on that scene quite a bit. That sequence is a tour de force. It’s a very long sequence and has a lot of dialogue. They spent hours on set, without the crew, and they perfected the scene. I got to see just a little bit of it while it was shooting, and it was like watching an absolutely riveting play. Then on screen, it took a new dimension. Kim, she really is somebody to be reckoned with. She sees Jimmy starting to sink there, and she comes in like a ton of bricks. I knew it was going to happen, but when I first saw the scene, I was very worried for Kim, and what was going to happen to her."
    • Is Kim Wexler Better Call Saul's Walter White?: “It’s a funny thing: The writers’ room for season six is open, and we were making some comparisons today about Kim," says Gould. "I really wasn’t expecting one of the things that came up. Somebody said, ‘In some ways, isn’t Kim the Walter White of this show?’ Just in the sense that she’s so expert at justifying. I think there’s something to that, although I obviously don’t think she’s like Walter White because Walter White was a despicable person and I don’t think Kim is despicable at all. But on the other hand, there is an element where she is getting better and better at talking herself into things and it makes you wonder where that’s going.”
    • Better Call Saul Season 5 was its best yet, and the finale offered a new path for the sixth and final season: "Think about what we know and have seen of Kim Wexler," says Alan Sepinwall. "She built herself a life and career out of nothing. She’s convincing as she moves through the world of Howard Hamlin and Kevin Wachtell, but she’s always had to conceal a degree of resentment of these rich and powerful men to whom good things seem to come so easily. She is better than her peers at almost any task to which she sets her mind. We saw with the stunt that kept Huell out of prison that Kim can be a more clever con artist than Jimmy. In verbally dismantling Lalo, she seemed like she might be a better Friend of the Cartel than Jimmy, too. And in the wake of an experience that could very well have killed her, but didn’t, Kim finds herself contemplating doing something genuinely evil, even as she tells herself and her spouse that she would be doing it for a fundamentally good reason. Sound like anyone we know who knocks?"
    • With Kim Wexler, Better Call Saul has done something it couldn’t do with Jimmy McGill: "It has allowed us to feel the shock and disappointment of realizing someone we think we can trust isn’t trustworthy," says Jen Chaney. "In that sense, Better Call Saul isn’t just a show about a con artist. The series itself is a con artist that has conned us into thinking that Kim is someone she isn’t. We’re not just viewers or fans. We’re Better Call Saul’s marks."
    • The genius of Better Call Saul, as it’s evolved to this point, is that Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould realize that it’s not Saul Goodman’s story: "Saul Goodman is the condition to which the real protagonist, Kim Wexler, has to respond," says Donna Bowman, adding: "Very simply, scene by scene and turn by turn, we see her experience fear, relief, hope, despair, resentment, anger, and schadenfreude. Then, finally, determined — a familiar mode for Kim Wexler — but now in a different key, with a new and chilling ruthlessness. The question of the show for the audience has been 'what will happen to Kim?' This season finale brilliantly changes the terms; now the question is 'who will Kim become?' Her question — 'Wouldn’t I?' — is the hinge on which the show turns toward its final act."
    • Vince Gilligan initially rejected Lalo Salamanca: Tony Dalton's Lalo has become a breakout villain on the AMC series, especially in Monday's Season 5 finale. But if co-creator Gilligan had his way, Better Call Saul might have never explored Lalo. Gilligan says fellow co-creator Peter Gould kept pressing him to explore Lalo, whom Saul Goodman mentioned in his first Breaking Bad episode. "I’m embarrassed to admit this now," Gilligan tells Rolling Stone, "but back in Season One or Two when I was more active on the show, Peter kept saying, ‘We’ve gotta answer who Lalo is,’ and I finally said, ‘I don’t know that we need to answer every single question.’ And man, I was wrong. If Peter hadn’t pushed, we wouldn’t have Tony Dalton. We wouldn’t have this amazing character. So, some of the ones that I found the most frustrating to deal with, that I said, ‘Ah, the hell with them. Who cares?’ tend to be the best ones of all.” As Alan Sepinwall notes, "Gould knew he wanted Lalo to stand out from the other Salamancas, who are more volatile and/or stoic, and to be smart enough to get Gus Fring’s goat." Gould says: "We went to our brilliant casting folks, Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas, and Russell Scott, and we told them, ‘We have a new member of the Salamanca family. He’s a charming Salamanca, and playful.’ They brought us Tony Dalton, and I don’t know what else to say. We found a guy who’s got movie-star charisma, and he’s athletic, and he’s charming, and he plays every layer to every scene.”
    • Tony Dalton credits the Better Call Saul writers with collaborating with him to make Lalo charming: "I thought maybe I could explore a character like that if the opportunity ever presented itself," he tells The New York Times. "But the stars have to align. Someone needs to not only like that idea, but make it better. I think once the writers saw that I was playing Lalo with charm, they started writing charm into the scripts. It’s completely and totally a collaboration." In an interview with Vulture, Dalton adds: "Fortunately, I was with a group of people who were very receptive toward what I could bring to the part. I’m really grateful. They could have been like, 'No, no, no, no, no, no, don’t smile. We want this guy serious.' But kudos to all those guys for getting this living, breathing thing that doesn’t really have an end in sight. I mean, it does as far as episodes for the next season, but they don’t really know where they’re going, which is amazing. They’re like, 'Okay, this guy’s working for us, let’s do more of this.' That’s what happened with (Jonathan) Banks in Breaking Bad. He was not supposed to be that big, but he showed up and they thought, 'This character’s great.'"
    • Dalton says "I try to sneak in everything" with his Lalo performance: "I could tell you hours of all the sh*t I try to get past these guys, everything from waving people off with the hand and fingers or pointing with my mouth," he says, adding: "I do more of that in the last episode, but there’s all these tiny little things that I’ve tried in the past."
    • Dalton on the season finale script: "Even when I was reading it, it was like 'What the hell?' I was jumping up and down in my apartment saying, 'This is unbelievable.'"

    TOPICS: Rhea Seehorn, AMC, Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk, Peter Gould, Tony Dalton, Vince Gilligan