Because he hasn’t caught up, Michael McKean speculates on the significance of his appearance in the Better Call Saul finale.
In the “Better Call Saul” finale, Michael McKean explains down his crucial flashback moment, but the actor, who hasn’t seen the entire season, can only speculate as to what it all means.
SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t seen “Better Call Saulseason “‘s finale, “Saul Gone,” don’t read this.
The late lawyer Chuck McGill was tenderly brought back to life in the “Better Call Saul” series finale, but Michael McKean, who plays him again in a flashback scene, is still a few episodes behind and is unsure of what it all means.
Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) asks Mike (Jonathan Banks) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in two flashbacks during the finale where they would go if they had a time machine. Walt and Mike both express misgivings about leaving Gray Matter Technologies and accepting a bribe, but Jimmy doesn’t go too personal. We don’t go back in time to a conversation between Jimmy and Chuck, who passed away by suicide at the end of Season 3, until after the climactic courtroom scene, in which Jimmy tries to make amends by confessing to his crimes and accepting a much longer jail sentence in order to clear Kim’s (Rhea Seehorn) name. Jimmy is delivering fresh groceries and newspapers to his older brother at the time. (Note how director Peter Gould alludes to Season 3’s “Chicanery” by focusing on the buzzing exit sign of the courtroom, foreshadowing Chuck’s flashback.)
Chuck gives his younger brother some wise counsel despite not being asked the same question Jimmy does with Mike and Walt: “If you don’t like where you’re going, there’s no shame in going back and changing your course.” Jimmy leaves, and Chuck is seen reading “The Time Machine” by H. G. Wells.
Naturally, McKean remembers filming this crucial conclusion moment, but he is completely unaware of how the show or his imaginary brother Jimmy turn out. McKean analyses his return to “Better Call Saul” in a thorough, spoiler-free interview with Variety and tries to explain the relevance of “The Time Machine.”
How much of Season 6 of “Better Call Saul” have you seen?
We only watched the last five episodes after my wife and I finished watching Episode 8. The previous episode, which featured the confrontation between Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) and Lalo (Tony Dalton), was a monster episode. Pretty fantastic television there.
When did you learn that you would be back for the conclusion?
When they told me at the start of the previous season that they would need me for one more scene in the final episode, I said, “Awesome.” Don’t tell me anything Chuck wouldn’t know, I pleaded, and they agreed. Because I’m a fan of the programme, I merely read my scene and skipped the others. And I want to see the plot properly conceived. I’m very glad I entered with no knowledge, and people have been quite gracious in withholding information from me. I’m also making an effort not to read anything on Twitter that provides me with information I don’t need.
You must find it challenging to stay away from spoilers. What security measures are in place? Twitter, in my opinion, is a minefield.
I know what to skim over because there’s a method to sort of read and delete at the same time. I can take in the positive feedback on the show without looking any further into what people are hinting at since they are saying such wonderful, beautiful things about it. Additionally, the fact that Chuck wouldn’t be aware of any of this makes it somewhat appropriate that I am not. It’s going fairly nicely right now.
What do you think the importance of “The Time Machine” is, given that you haven’t seen the entire episode?
Chuck’s presence in the episode, in my opinion, serves as a reminder to everyone that time travel is indeed impossible. You must therefore make decisions when they arise. And now we’re going back in time to a man who didn’t make the proper decisions and who allowed a number of long-standing issues to literally and symbolically set fire to his life. Chuck might have caught a brief glimpse of the future at that time, if it were to be properly moulded. Of course, “The Time Machine” is about a future that was poorly imagined.
Perhaps it has to do with how much of the future you can design yourself. Avoid losing it. This was something that a man named Chuck remarked as he was beginning to jeopardise his own future. He was simply unaware of it. Because of his conflicting emotions, jealousies, and inability to win people over the way Jimmy did, he was putting himself in a difficult situation. [Chuck watches Jimmy] act like a lawyer, but in a brash and open way while getting away with it due to his charm and slight sloppiness. Chuck, a rule-follower, was the person asking himself, “If I’m doing it perfectly, why do I feel so awful?” Although the past is in the past, it still affects you. When you reflect on the past, what you do with yourself and who you are might be somewhat informative. On a much smaller scale, I believe that’s what Jimmy is doing and feeling right now as he reflects on the passage of time.
What would Chuck do with a time machine, do you suppose? Do you believe Chuck harbours any remorse?
Of course, but we also need to account for his mental disorder in our calculations. Despite Chuck’s apparent lucidity, something prevailed. possibly shouldn’t have done. The instant of your death is the most present moment there is. It might have been worthwhile to try again if Chuck had access to a time machine and could have persuaded his parents that Jimmy needed a lot more discipline in his life, that he shouldn’t skip out on his obligations, and that he should straighten out and get his sh*t together. But listen, by the time Jimmy was 18 years old, Chuck had left everything largely in the dust and was off to law school. He might not have thought of it if there was a way he could have done the right thing. So, I’m not really sure.
What do you suppose happened to Howard (Patrick Fabian) in Episode 7?
Wow. Staggering. Again, I had to be extremely careful not to reveal anything, and my wife and I just stood there in awe as we watched. Patrick Fabian is a wonderful actor, first and foremost. And it seemed as though his character had really come into focus before being abruptly erased. Simply catastrophic, that is. Even though we don’t quite agree with our assessment of this individual as a person, we had a lot invested in him. His marriage to his wife and his small advice on how to remove the fizz from a soda can included a wealth of information. It is these tiny nuances that make people who they are. People are more complex than just the basic elements.
He didn’t need to be a victim, either. Until he wasn’t, he was a person who could be changed. He was shown to be exceedingly disruptive, conceited, and two-faced. All of those are flaws in people. It was terrible when he became a victim, but it was also like, hey, that’s life. You know how life is that person who shows up at the wrong time?
Chuck’s significance in the episode extends even after his passing, as evidenced by the presence of his portrait over the meditation space. How did you interpret that?
It was good theatre, in my opinion. Although it isn’t like “Big Brother is watching,” it resembles a surrogate father in certain ways. That connection [between Howard and Chuck] gave me that feeling.
What expectations do you have for Jimmy going into this last run of episodes?
I’m the kind of guy who won’t even attempt to guess the main character in a mystery book. I keep myself amused by pretending to be the clueless person next to the investigator.
What kind of legacy do you believe “Better Call Saul” will leave behind now that the programme is ended?
Hopefully, writers will work hard to produce seriously excellent TV programmes. My wife and I frequently remark that we enjoy any tales in which our initial impressions of someone are either dashed or blossom into something lovely. That was how I felt when I was with John Mahoney, who plays Skye’s father in the movie “Say Anything.” Until we stop loving him, we do. And the trick is just good writing; we don’t see it coming. People’s desire to observe events is the only thing that counts. You don’t need to feel affection for the folks you’re seeing. It is better if you can have the rug pulled out from under you rather than having to have an absolute rooting interest.
How do you evaluate Chuck and Jimmy’s friendship and your whole experience on the programme as you return for one more scene?
The bond between Chuck and Jimmy was extremely complicated. It rapidly expanded, and Tom [Schnauz], Vince Gilligan, and Peter [Gould] have all stated that a lot of the work Bob [Odenkirk] and I did inspired them as to the direction the tale would go. I feel a little proud about that. Bob and I learned as we went how to make a relationship with that much intricacy work and be dramatically viable for the rest of the show. One of those series where no one ever had to say, “Hey, my character wouldn’t say that” is “Better Call Saul.” If an idea came from the set, the writers would give it a go since they were so confident in where they were headed and how they were getting there. In addition to the fact that everyone is incredibly pleasant, knowledgeable, and hilarious, the work environment is ideal. I would not want anyone to have that kind of a job.