Heather Marion, writer for AMC’s Better Call Saul, talks about penning the Season 2 Finale with and her thoughts on Mike’s transformation to killer-for-hire.
Q: You started on Better Call Saul as a writer’s assistant, and now you’ve co-written the Season 2 Finale, along with creator Vince Gilligan. Tell us about making that jump and having your first writing credit be on such an important episode.
A: Of all the episodes, the finale is a really exciting one to be a part of. All of the episodes are structured in a way so that they are each important and it feels like everyone writes every episode, in a way. I’m so grateful and lucky because it’s been a very collaborative and supportive environment since the very beginning. You work the way the people around you work. It’s an environment where everyone is bringing their A-game, so you keep wanting more responsibility and I got more writing opportunities as we went along. When Vince and Peter [Gould] approached me, I couldn’t believe what they were saying. [Laughs] It was surreal.
Q: Did you face any challenges in the writers room as someone who didn’t come from Breaking Bad?
A: I was a little bit nervous. I was one of the few that weren’t a part of Breaking Bad. These are the people whose work I’ve been studying and I’ve been so drawn by the material they’ve made. It’s daunting to go in as an outsider, but all the good things you hear about Vince and Peter and all of the writers are true. Every single person in there is not only the best at what they do, but they’re genuinely kind and generous people.
A: We talked about it a lot in the room. There are a lot of fundamental differences between these brothers. You can see where some of that comes from in how they are dealing with grief, how they try to communicate and how they react to each other. If these two guys could just understand each other, most of their problems would go away. Their mom saying Jimmy’s name as her final word is unforgettable. Chuck is never going to forget that. It was even hard to write! It was very emotional. They both see things truly from their own perspective and they’re so far from one another. You can see where the tragedy comes from.
Q: Season 1 ended with Chuck betraying Jimmy and now he’s gotten Jimmy to confess to a felony. How do you compare the two scenarios?
A: Remember in Season 1 when Chuck brought Jimmy out from Chicago because Jimmy was in trouble? From that time forward, there’s been a joust back and forth for their various reasons and internal struggles. When Jimmy finds out that Chuck has betrayed him and what Chuck really thinks of him, it’s another seed in the sowing of this battle between them. The trust is gone.
Q: What do you think Chuck is so bent on proving, and to whom? What does Jimmy want to prove to Chuck?
A: Whether Jimmy is trying to prove something to himself or his brother, he wants his brother’s respect. We know he makes a lot of his decisions based on what Chuck does. Chuck truly believes that Jimmy is not meant to be a lawyer – more than anything – and he’s trying to preserve the sacredness of the law, which he holds so highly.
Q: We really start to see Mike’s transformation in this episode, with him ready to take the shot at Tio. How significant is that development?
A: On the outside, in Breaking Bad, Mike looks like he’s a pretty straightforward guy and it was really interesting for me to come in and see how different he actually is and how far he has to go from the start of Better Call Saul to where we see him on Breaking Bad. At the beginning of Better call Saul, he’s not ready to kill anybody for hire and he’s not a solider. We see an evolution when he goes back to buy that rifle. He’s still got a ways to go, but he is fully taking steps forward.
Q: What was your favorite scene from the Season Finale?
A: The CT scan scene was really great work. We had a lot of cool effects and great sound work by our awesome sound team. I loved the hospital scene and I talked to my cousin who is a nurse. She helped me with a lot of the technical moments. I’m proud of the way those turned out on the page. Clea DuVall, who plays Chuck’s doctor, always does such a fantastic job. It was fun to have her back after Episode 5 last year. I also love the scene in the desert because of the set that [Production Designer] Tony Fanning and his team built out there. That house was not a location. It was built from scratch. Everybody did such an amazing job.
Q: People have said that Better Call Saul champions feminism because of Kim’s storyline. Do you agree?
A: I have heard that. I love that people are seeing a character that feels so real and true to herself. I think that there are a lot of stereotypes on TV for all kinds of different things – not just gender – but we try to take every character in every scene and make them as honest and real as possible. Kim is a person who is career-driven, focused and independent. I think it’s refreshing that we’re able to portray her like that and that the audience is so receptive of it.
Q: You’re also an actress! Can we expect to see you in any Season 3 episodes?
A: [Laughs] That would be fun if the opportunity came up, but I am more than thrilled to be on the writing side.
Q: What kind of character would you write for yourself if you could?
A: I would love to be any of the characters written on the show. I’m proud of them because they’re so layered and complicated. No one is all good or all bad and I think our show does a good job of showing people as they are. It gives us a chance to develop the characters down the line.
Q: Without giving anything away, what are you most looking forward to exploring next season?
A: I am very interested in the relationship between Jimmy and Kim, and how their business will evolve. It’s going to be interesting to see how these two lawyers, who are so different, are going to work together and be in a relationship together with everything that Jimmy is going through. I would love to see more of Pryce and I even miss the Kettlemans. I wish we could do a musical mash-up.
Read an interview with Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, Co-Creators and Executive Producers.
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