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Hollywood breaking news: Peter Gould, writer and director of “Saul Gone,” the final episode of AMC’s ‘Better Call Saul,’ breaks down the series’ ending and explains whether or not he and Vince Gilligan are done with the ‘Breaking Bad universe.

 The word “hail” doesn’t begin to capture the onslaught of bullets that marked the end of AMC’s Breaking Bad back in 2013.

Better Call Saul was never headed for a comparable ending, and Monday’s series finale for the acclaimed prequel spinoff was a far quieter and less bloody affair, one marked by meditations on time travel, regret, and personal sacrifice.

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In the hour-plus series-ender, viewers saw Gene Takavic, Saul Goodman, and Jimmy McGill at work, all three sides of the character played to Emmy-nominated effect by Bob Odenkirk. And the audience was meant to wonder, as they were throughout the series, which alter ego was truest to the character’s essence and to ponder whether and how much the character was capable of change.

The result maybe wasn’t a happy ending, but it was an optimistic ending, balancing the punishment that Jimmy/Saul/Gene deserved with the reconciliation with Rhea Seehorn’s Kim that both he and the audience craved.

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Series co-creator Peter Gould, writer, and director of the finale got on the phone with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss the emotional beats of the ending, as well as the choice of the series’ final shot.

Plus, for probably the millionth time, he weighed in on whether he and co-creator Vince Gilligan are done with telling stories in the Breaking Bad world.

Barring future FYC panels or whatever, this is perhaps our last time talking about this show. What’s it going to take for me to get you to cry?

(Laughing.) I’m crying right now! You can just say, “He wept.” Whatever I say, you can just write, “He choked back tears as he talked about how he was going to miss the show.” You can just say I’m crying. That’s OK with me.

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I’m going to waste my first question by asking about production design. For Jimmy/Gene/Saul’s big courtroom moment in the finale, did you tell somebody you needed a courtroom with a guardrail that resembled crosshairs, or did you get to the available set, see the guardrail and go, “Holy cow, Kim can be in the crosshairs”?

Boy, I wish I could say that was all carefully planned. We had a terrible time. It was an epic trying to get a courtroom for this episode in the middle of a pandemic. I won’t go into all the details, but [location manager] Christian De Bedoya really came through for us and so did the Supreme Court of the state of New Mexico. So thank you, Supreme Court, state of New Mexico, because that is an actual courtroom that they allowed us to use, and thank God they did.

So it was a situation where you saw what the guardrail looked like and said, “Ooh, symbolic”?

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Oh, absolutely! You go, “Yes!” Marshall Adams, our brilliant DP, and I had a whole visual design idea for that sequence and that was part of it.

And now let’s go to the end. This is probably the most optimistic ending I could have imagined this series has. How did you decide that relative happiness was a possibility and/or something that these people deserved?

Oof! I love the fact that you think it’s a happy ending when you have one character in prison for a very long sentence and the other one who’s under threat of a giant civil action. So yeah! Look, the fact that you think that that’s an optimistic ending means a lot. Our question became, “What is the right ending for this guy? What is the right moment to leave him? What is the right moment to leave Kim?”

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And yes, I agree it’s optimistic because he makes a change. Anybody who studies the human beings around you, you can see that making a real change is very difficult and rare. In drama, we always say, “Oh, it’s about character change,” but it’s sometimes characters just becoming more of what they were or they’re continuing down the tracks that they’ve laid for themselves. This is a guy, he has this self-destructive impulse that keeps coming back and he does things that he doesn’t have to do, things like working with Walter White or busting into Mr. Lingk’s house even when he’s probably coming to at any moment.

Now finally he makes a change here. I think you’re right. I think that is optimistic. I thought ending with Saul behind bars felt right and felt just. You asked what he deserves, and I think that it’s certainly not less than he deserves.

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What were the conversations about how much relative optimism or how much relative happiness this could believably sustain?

I think we just wanted to be honest. We don’t think about it in terms of “This is a happy ending” or “This is a sad ending.” Our fervent hope is that it’s a satisfying ending. We’re just trying to think about what could happen to these characters and what would they do in the circumstances and how would the world respond to what they do. It’s interesting because we don’t usually think in terms of “a happy thing” or “an up thing” or “a down thing.” Certainly looking back on it, rhythmically, both these characters have gone through some terrible setbacks and they both kinda lost themselves and lost the lives that they built. My mother used to say, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.” I guess in the end I subscribe to that

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