Better Call Saul’s Vince Gilligan Describes The ‘Pure Hell’ Of Directing Insane ‘Bagman’ Episode

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman in Better Call Saul

Spoilers for the latest episode of Better Call Saul lie ahead

Vince Gilligan is no stranger to producing cinematic television experiences, and that was certainly the case with Better Call Saul’s latest installment, “Bagman.” The episode centers on Jimmy’s (or Saul’s) mission to pick up and deliver $7 million intended as bail money for the shady Lalo Salamanca. Along the way, Jimmy encounters enemies and an ally in Mike, and the two must rely on each other while stranded in the desert. While the finished product is a sight to behold, Gilligan and company had their hands full with this desert shoot.

Having filmed scenes in the desert for years for both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Vince Gilligan is more than accustomed to the conditions. He recently shot a desert scene for El Camino, which he considers to be one of his greatest days as a director. However, he found directing “Bagman” to be one of the toughest (and most rewarding) experiences of his career. The only similarity between both occasions is that he was working with great actors:

The only overlap is that I was working with another two magnificent actors — obviously Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks. But other than that, it was just pure hell. I went from the best day of directing of my life, in a desert, to the worst stretch of weeks and months or however frigging long this thing took. It was like forever. I’m not exaggerating, this was the hardest directing I’ve ever done. I’m so proud of it and I’m mostly proud of the magnificent job the crew did. They were wonderful. And Bob and Jonathan were fantastic.

Gilligan also didn’t mince words about the dangerous nature of the desert while speaking with THR. He does find it to be beautiful in its own way, but he stressed that it’s not for the faint of heart:

What’s dangerous is the sun and the lack of water. If you got dropped out there without a hat and without any water, just on foot, and someone said, “If you walk this way far enough, you’ll get to Albuquerque,” you’d be dead. I don’t care how tough you are. It’s a murderous landscape designed to kill anything living, and how animals and plants adapt to it, I have no idea. I mean, it’s beautiful out there.

Talk about suffering your art. But in all seriousness, if Vince Gilligan and his team have shown viewers anything with both shows, it’s that the desert is an unpredictable place, in front of and behind the camera. Nevertheless, they’ve used it to deliver some excellent TV such as Breaking Bad’s “4 Days Out” and the acclaimed “Ozymandias.” And it’s more than a safe bet this won’t be the last piece of business Saul Goodman will have to handle out in the wild.

Better Call Saul airs Mondays on AMC at 9:00 p.m. E.T.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.