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Emmy Contenders: 'Better Call Saul's' Jonathan Banks opens up about soul-losing grief

Emmy Contenders: 'Better Call Saul's' Jonathan Banks opens up about soul-losing grief
Jonathan Banks, who plays Mike Ehrmantraut on AMC's "Breaking Bad" sibling "Better Call Saul," swings by the Los Angeles Times to chat with Glenn Whipp about the program.

You didn't think we were going to bring Michael McKean in here and not extend an invitation to his "Better Call Saul" castmate Jonathan Banks, did you?

Banks stopped by the Los Angeles Times' studio recently to talk about the "Breaking Bad" spinoff and, in particular, the stellar episode, "Five-O," in which we learn the events that brought Banks' tough guy character, Mike Ehrmantraut, to Albuquerque all those years ago.

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The origin of this storyline came from a detail Banks himself dropped during the third season of "Breaking Bad," when he told show creator Vince Gilligan that he thought something bad had happened to Mike's son in the past.

"Wherever Mike has lost his soul has to do with his son," Banks confided to Gilligan. "And Vince went, 'Hmmm ... well ... well ..."

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As for playing the episode, Banks revealed: "You go back through a lot of things in a lifetime, and that's what you use. I don't want to be maudlin about it, but it's about every friend I've ever had that lost a child and how they ever kept living."

We watch a lot of television (Hey, it's a living!) and we're here to tell you that there wasn't a better hour of drama this year than this particular episode, which revealed Mike's tragic past and ended with him telling his daughter-in-law: "You know what happened. The question is: Can you live with it?" Pretty good summation of the whole "Breaking Bad"/"Saul" universe, don't you think?

Banks also spoke about his chemistry with co-star Bob Odenkirk and his profound relief when the writers finally released Mike from his solitary confinement in that parking lot ticket booth. Make yourself a pimento sandwich -- or perhaps grab a French dip (listen and you'll understand) -- and enjoy.

Twitter: @glennwhipp

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