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‘Better Call Saul’ star Bob Odenkirk hopes main character redeems himself

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 23 (UPI) — As the penultimate season of Better Call Saul begins, the actors contemplate the fate of their characters. Bob Odenkirk plays Saul Goodman in the Breaking Bad prequel and hopes he will meet a better fate than Walter White.

White, played by Bryan Cranston on the original series, was a high school chemistry teacher who became the crystal meth mogul Heisenberg. Saul, White’s money laundering lawyer, became the focus of his own series.

Before Breaking Bad, Jimmy McGill took on the Saul persona after losing his law license. By Season 5, Jimmy has fully committed to being Saul.

“I want him to grow into a really good person,” Odenkirk said in a roundtable interview. “It would be neat to me if it was kind of the opposite of Walter White’s journey of degradation. It would be neat if he learned the right lessons from all his bad choices and trouble and trauma.”

Saul was one of White’s shady associates on Breaking Bad, but Odenkirk said his show has given Jimmy a chance at redemption.

“Over time, he’s had moments of self-awareness,” Odenkirk said. “The character can look at Kim and say, ‘I’m sorry, what I did was wrong’ and he’s done that a couple times. So just having that self-awareness gives you a place to go OK, all right, he’s not hopeless.”

Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) was an associate at Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill, the firm where Jimmy’s late brother Chuck (Michael McKean) worked. She has been Jimmy’s girlfriend, but his shady schemes make her question their relationship.

Jimmy apologizes to Kim, but Kim also becomes more and more lenient about looking the other way at Jimmy’s antics.

“I have to remind myself all the time, Kim hasn’t seen Breaking Bad,” Seehorn said in a separate roundtable. “I can’t think about the Saul Goodman that we know. She’s watching these things in real time step by step. There are small steps. She does see him cutting corners, but she knew that from the beginning.”

Odenkirk suggested Kim is the closest thing Jimmy has to a moral compass. Since she was not a character on Breaking Bad, he may lose her before the end of Better Call Saul. Only series creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould know for sure.

“She’s his only conduit to a whole human being who potentially reflects back to you the best of you, the worst of you and accepts it and knows it,” Odenkirk said. “I don’t know if he realizes how important that connection is. Maybe he would think, ‘Oh, it would be easier if I didn’t have her looking at me wanting me to be a better version of myself.'”

When Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) refused to make Kim a partner, she considered going into practice with Jimmy. Jimmy’s legal license got suspended, and perhaps Kim’s common sense told her to keep her practice separate.

Still, Seehorn suggested there is something about Kim’s experience that prevents her from ending a relationship with Jimmy.

“The Kim from Season 1 would not go with any of Saul Goodman’s stuff,” Seehorn said. “She keeps moving and changing, as well. We do see more of what’s underneath her veneer this season, which I think helps you see a little bit more of the addictive nature of this relationship between them.”

With two seasons left to go, redemption still could take a long time for Jimmy. As Season 5 begins, Odenkirk said, Jimmy is using the Saul Goodman persona to focus his resentment toward loved ones like Kim.

“He’s angry at Kim because he can sense that she judges him as being lesser than him,” Odenkirk said. “He’s trying to funnel that anger somewhere, so being this person who uses everyone who walks through his door, it’s like I’m going to strike first. I’m going to hurt people first. I’m going to use people first before they can use me.”

Odenkirk understands Jimmy resorting to the Saul persona. He might have to get worse before he comes out the other side.

“Everybody thinks they’re doing the right thing,” Odenkirk said. “The worst person in the world thinks, ‘No, I’m right. I’m good. I have a reason for what I’m doing.’ So you have to understand that. I like Jimmy. I like where he is right now because he’s kind of in between the two a little bit.”

Better Call Saul returns Sunday at 9 p.m. EST on AMC.

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