Spoilers below for Better Call Saul’s Season 2 finale.
Once again, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould crafted an hour of television that proved how superior they are to the majority of live-action storytellers, and the season finale of Better Call Saul was one of the most effective episodes of the entire series so far. If Gilligan would have had his way, the episode would have been even more memorable thanks to a cleverly inserted Breaking Bad cameo from one Betsy Brandt, better known to fans as Marie “Five Finger Discount” Schrader. Here’s Gilligan explaining how that would have worked.
Since Chuck was in the hospital and was about to get a CAT scan, I thought it’d be a fun for Hank’s wife, Marie, played by the gorgeous Betsy Brandt to be the one operating the machine, since as we know she’s an X-ray technician. I thought it would be a great and organic opportunity to bring back one of our fundamental Breaking Bad characters, and Peter and the other writers rightly talked me out of it. Not because they don’t love Betsy just as much as I do but it would have distracted the viewer in the moment. It was a big moment in which we wanted to stay squarely inside of Chuck’s head as he goes through the terror and the agony of the scan. If our attention was diverted by Betsy, it would sort of dull the moment as it were, dramatically.
It would be easy to disagree with this choice by championing the inclusion of any and all Breaking Bad characters, given how well Better Call Saul has introduced familiar folks in the past. But the logic in this instance is incredibly sound. Chuck’s entire hospital ordeal was an assault on the senses, including the “touch” of my curdled blood passing through my veins. His anguish when being poked and prodded by the ER team dripped from the TV screen, and his mini-coma wasn’t exactly a field of dreams either. I can’t help but think the mood and pacing would have been shattered had Betsy Brandt been unveiled as one of the hospital staff.
Not that she wouldn’t be welcome at another point in the show’s future, perhaps during a Season 3 scene where Jimmy runs into Marie at the courthouse while she’s paying a parking ticket or something. If Marie isn’t going to enter heavily into the main plot like Tuco and Hector Salamanca, then her appearance should be similarly disconnected. It doesn’t have to be meaningless, mind you, since nothing on this show is, and I’m glad these guys recognize that some scenes can’t afford distractions.
I’m actually surprised that Betsy Brandt is the person that Gilligan had been talking about all this time. Considering criminal kingpin Gus Fring is on the horizon – apparently with a big stick, some paper and a marker, from the looks of things – I thought he was going to end up being the character meant to appear here. The Season 2 episode titles do spell out “FringsBack,” but that was apparently enough of a reference to him for this year. Maybe we’ll get to see his actual face, his non-exploded face, when Season 3 rolls around. Peter Gould teased out Gus’ future by telling EW that viewers should be asking themselves why Mike was stopped by the “mystery person” with that note rather than being killed off. Gah, I can’t wait until next year to get answers to that.
While fans will no doubt be waiting for cameos from Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston until the end of time, I love that Gilligan and Gould not only know that they have a small population of characters to re-introduce to Better Call Saul, but that they also know that sparingly is caringly in these cases. Now while we wait for Season 3 and Marie, we’ll just be over here polishing our rocks, er, minerals. And you can check out everything premiering over the next few months with our summer TV schedule.