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Interview with Better Call Saul's writer Gennifer Hutchison

Gennifer Hutchison, writer and executive producer of the critically acclaimed AMC hit drama Better Call Saul. Opens up about one of the most iconic props from Breaking Bad, Hector Salamanca's bell. She talks about where the idea of having Lalo Salamanca "gift" Hector the bell and the reasoning behind. Gennifer Hutchison also brings her own interpretation to why Lalo took the bell and held on to it all these years to give to Hector.

What made you decide that Lalo was going to be the one to gift Hector the bell?

Hector's bell has always been an iconic prop from Breaking Bad. It's such a weird looking bell, too in the context of a communication device. It looks like a hotel bellhop bell, and we've always wondered about it in the writers' room -- why this bell? Who gave it to him? If it had been a nurse or doctor, it would have been a much simpler bell, for example.

When we were introducing Lalo and thinking about this visit with Hector, it came up that now may be a good time to tell the story of the bell. Hector has just had his stroke, Lalo is a new character we've never met before, and it gave us a great opportunity for a monologue to build the scene around.

The story behind the bell is incredible. Was Don Hector doing his drug business with Hotel Tulipan and the owner betrayed him? What did Lalo mean, " You were so polite to that guy, and he turns his back on you? Makes that big deal to show he's not scared."

We always like to keep details like that open for audience interpretation. It can be really cool to hear the theories folks come up with. I love the betrayal idea! In discussing it, our idea in the room was that when Hector stayed at this hotel, he always chafed at how educated the owner was and how much he talked about his old job and his books. I always felt that Hector is not college educated and
is threatened by book smart people. But... in his mind, the guy was rude to him, didn't show enough deference for who he was. It's such a small offense, and Hector took it way too far. We liked the idea of using this to show how petty and cruel Hector is, and how scary and also cruel Lalo is. The way he tells the story, delights in it, really helps show that this is a guy our characters should be worried about.

Why the bell? Why did Lalo choose to take the bell after the fire and not something else?

For me, the story reason is that for the owner, this bell was something he took pride in. When he rang it, bellhops snapped to attention. What power the owner had in this place was symbolized by the bell. Lalo took it to give that power to Hector.

Teaching the teacher. Can you explain it?

The owner was a former professor -- again very book smart. And again, I think Hector feels threatened by smart people and reads that as disrespect. So the idea is that teaching the teacher refers to Hector educating this smart man in the ways of Hector's world. That his book smarts are meaningless up against Hector and his power.


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