Spoilers below for those who aren’t all caught up on Better Call Saul’s current season.
Though Breaking Bad made it seem like Walt and Jesse would be a premiere tag team, it didn’t take long for that to implode in tragic ways, leaving Mike Ehrmantraut and Gus Fring as the franchise’s most dynamic duo. Better Call Saul has shown fans just how that partnership got sparked up, and the journey so far has been noticeably free of friendly warmth. It’ll likely stay that way, too, as star Jonathan Banks spoke with CinemaBlend recently and explained why Mike and Gus didn’t and won’t get very close as partners.
I don’t think they ever have been close. I don’t think they ever will be close. Mike looks at Gus and knows he is a formidable man in what he does, and a very dangerous man. But I can say that Mike’s attitude toward anybody — he’s dealing with crooks and murderers — he’s not gonna get real close to anybody. The partnership, there is that element of trust in the sense that, ‘If something is said, this is the way it will be done.’ Not a lot of questions are asked.
To be fair, it’s not exactly the most common behavior for employees and employers to have close and personal relationships, but then Mike and Gus are on a slightly different wavelength than a Chili’s server and manager, as they’re both part of a very small circle of people holding onto the same highly inflammatory information. Close proximity and similar to-do lists don’t necessitate friendships forming between two individuals, though.
When Gus sent Mike out to the site in the desert where the superlab was to be constructed, it’s not like he was “confiding” in his security enforcer. He was telling him what to do. When Gus asks Mike about the situation with Werner and the German crew, he’s not looking to hear Mike’s thoughts on interior design; Gus’ mind is only on the product itself.
Between the lab and the drugs and the money he’s making, Gus doesn’t have a lot of time to care about other people beyond what they’re doing to help those other things along. Which Mike is undoubtedly fine with, as implied by Jonathan Banks, since Mike isn’t intrigued by the notion of bonding and sharing recipes with elite New Mexico drug lords.
Jonathan Banks, who doesn’t think that Mike and Walt are comparable characters, actually summed things up perfectly when saying the below:
Gus is scary. You better be paying attention when you’re around Gus.
Even if Mike was extremely interested in getting closer to Gus on a genial and friendly level — and Mike’s subdued outburst at that group therapy meeting proves he’d rather get friendly with live dynamite — it wouldn’t eliminate the possibility that Gus would find a reason to one day duct-tape a bag around Mike’s head. Anyone that we’ve ever seen Gus get friendly with, on either Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul, would find themselves on the chopping block in a moment’s notice if the vengeful kingpin found it an advantageous move.
I’m almost disturbed that Gus was so overtly casual with Gale earlier this season, in a way we haven’t seen him do with others. But as we know from Breaking Bad, that dynamic definitely changes once Gale officially starts cooking under Gus’ wing in the future. In fact, star Giancarlo Esposito actually brought that up during my conversation with him a little earlier this year (in which he also shared why he prefers playing Gus on Better Call Saul). In his words:
Gale has no fear of Gus. Gus is a business man who’s offered him a great opportunity, and he sees that [Gale] doesn’t feel that Gus is nefarious, so Gus feels like, ‘Oh, there could be a friendship now.’ Certainly you see a bit later on, when you’ll see Gus get a little bit short, and Gale might eventually start to see that he’s a little more intense than Gale had planned on. But right now, he’s really honored to be a part of something that’s like sending a rocket to the moon. ‘I’m a part of the moon team! I’m a part of NASA!’ [laughs] This is a big deal for him, and certainly Gus understands that and realizes that, but also respects Gale on so many levels.
Not that Gus is the only one who has made interesting exceptions to his own interests. Ever the loner, Mike actually took a liking to Werner during their time together this season, at least during the months before the dude decided to secretly escape the superlab to go meet his wife somewhere. Perhaps it was because Werner is one of the only people who chooses to talk to Mike like a person, and as if they are friends, sharing personal stories and whatnot. But whatever well-wishing feelings Mike may have had for Werner in the past are almost certainly gone now, with the shit hitting the fan in an assortment of different ways.
Plus, if Mike and Gus weren’t already friendly before, this whole Werner situation isn’t going to be the icebreaker that gets them all chummy-chummy and going to sporting events together. If anything, it may deepen the fault line that rests between them, making Gus all the more wary about trusting Mike with such important operations like this. Fans already know that they would work it all out before the events seen in Breaking Bad, but any kind of temporary strife between those two would create magical television. Imagine the stare-offs!
If we didn’t already know that Season 5 was a certainty by this point, Better Call Saul fans would be gnawing their fingernails off, with the Season 4 finale being so close. You can find it airing on AMC on Monday, October 8, at 9:00 p.m. And it’s an extended episode, too, so be sure you have an extra 25 minutes to sit back and enjoy the ride. And to find out everything that’s coming to the small screen in the near future, head over to our fall TV premiere schedule.