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Better Call Saul star Rhea Seehorn says that season 5 is the show's 'most tragic' yet

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Jimmy McGill is a new man, quite literally.

At the end of Better Call Saul‘s fourth season, the tricky, troubled lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk faked his way into reinstatement and is now set to practice as Saul Goodman, much to the shock and wha? of confidante/girlfriend/highly skilled lawyer Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn). Wheels will be set into motion by this simple name change — plus an increasingly complex power struggle within the cartel — and they seem to be on a collision course with Breaking Bad. (Especially with the return of Ed, Hank, and Gomey.) How does Saul’s upcoming action compare to the drama from previous seasons? “It is the tensest,” Seehorn tells EW. “It’s the funniest. It’s the most tragic. It’s the most complex. Deep, deep, deep character explorations.” Offers Jonathan Banks, a.k.a. cop-turned-enforcer Mike Ehrmantraut: “It’s a lot more intense, because we’re getting closer and closer to what we have to catch up with.”

Before any fusion, though, there just might be an unhinging of sorts. “Things come apart at the seams in season 5,” testifies Patrick Fabian, a.k.a. smooth corporate lawyer Howard Hamlin. “It is challenging because we all know where it’s going — and yet we don’t know where it’s going. And so consequently, every script felt fraught with, ‘Is this the beginning of something that I don’t necessarily want to see going on?’ And that all drives back to the idea of Jimmy really being Saul, because Saul behaves in a completely different way. It’s an amoral universe that he lives in and we’ve created a nice little house where things may be kind of okay when they’re not. We left season 5 on a real high note work-wise. We all were thrilled with what we got, but it was trying and brutal in a lot of ways.”

Giancarlo Esposito — a.k.a. cryptic drug kingpin Gus Fring, who will bump up against uneasy partner Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) — also seems to hint that it took a lot of sweat to get those blood and tears. “It is certainly the most challenging season, but the most superlative season,” he says. “These writers took on ideas and effort that was out of their comfort zone and that allowed them to stretch for something different. They’ve always proved themselves economic in their writing and in their visual style but to do what they did this season is quite amazing for television.”

Greg Lewis/AMC
Greg Lewis/AMC

Kim was certainly amazed with Jimmy’s turn at the end of the season 4 finale — and not in a good way. Now she must ask herself hard questions about the man next to her. “They left off with a lot for Kim, and they do explore everything that you saw break open from that, which is: Who is this person in front of me? How far am I able to move the line in the sand for myself?” says Seehorn. “But Kim is also not the same person Kim was in the beginning. She actually helped him concoct that whole plot prior to him switching it just at the end. But I do think that one of the lynchpins for her is he made her the fool in that scenario in the end. Also, she fooled herself into thinking that there was a different Jimmy underneath this Saul. I think she still does believe that. So wrestling with that is what we’re left with, of her trying to figure out, ‘Are you a con man or are you conning me? What part of this ride am I in for, and what part am I not? Who is the real you, and who is the real me?’ It was a lot to unpack — and the writers did not shy away from any of it.”

They also continue to examine the rising Gus, who’s trying to gain control of the cartel by all means necessary. “You will see him make certain moves that will surprise you,” says Esposito. “But he’s a more vulnerable, more willing, less-sure individual at that point in time in our story.” That said, “we’re getting closer and closer to that overlap [with Breaking Bad], and not only in regards to how Gus is depicted, but also it’s a show about Jimmy McGill, it’s about Saul, it’s about Gene,” continues the actor. “So you see him move into a consciousness that more reflects the edginess of Breaking Bad.”

Another man in transition is Howard, who seems to have a new outlook and will reach out to Jimmy this season in some capacity. “He had really been broken and rebuilt himself,” hints Fabian, “so we’re going to see Howard using his newfound sense of oneness with the universe and see how long that facade can last in this world.” Offering up another hint that could tilt his story in intriguing directions, Fabian quips: “Kim Wexler just may get what she deserves from Howard this season.”

Meanwhile, Banks leaves you with a cryptic clue as the show starts looking down the barrel of its end game, with season 6 serving as the show’s final outing: “We survived.”

Season 5 premieres Sunday, Feb. 23, at 10 p.m. on AMC. You won’t have to wait long for the second episode of the season, as it airs in the show’s regular Monday-at-9 p.m. slot on Feb. 24.

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