After PaleyFest 2022’s early preview of the season-six premiere of Better Call Saul, cast members and series creator Peter Gould convened for a panel discussion with moderator Michael Schneider. During the chat, Giancarlo Esposito recalled receiving an atypical direct call from showrunners and immediately presuming co-star “Jonathan Banks had died.”
Esposito, who plays murderous meth magnate “Gus Fring” on the show, soon had his fears (“Not Banksy!”) allayed. That call was actually relaying the same good news that had just been shared with the PaleyFest audience: He had been tapped to direct an episode for the coming season. Fellow core cast member Rhea Seehorn (“Kim Wexler”) was also offered a turn in the director’s chair. Seehorn told the crowd that she too presumed such an unorthodox call from the execs could only be to inform her of a death, albeit for her fictional character. Instead, the two were offered career-propelling opportunities, the recounting of which brought Esposito to tears, confessing he “never thought I would be up to snuff to direct an episode of the show.”
Schneider deftly moderated the panel conversation around landmines like final season spoilers, the sensitive subject matter of star Bob Odenkirk’s on-set heart attack, and a tenacious audience member dead set on swapping emails with Gould. But like any great moderator, he knew he couldn’t send the audience away without a few juicy reveals.
As the evening wound down, Schneider asked Gould if it would be all right to give the audience the one thing they’d all been waiting for and the series creator acquiesced. “The first question we had when we started the show was, ‘Are we gonna see Walt and Jesse on the show?’” said Gould. “Instead of evading, I’ll just say yeah.” For the sake of spoiler-avoidance, Gould refused to elaborate on the details of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul’s return following El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie but promised the long-awaited connective tissue between the two shows was not to be missed. Ever the comedian, Odenkirk later described these climactic moments as “heart-stopping.”
*Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul as season seven.