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This Is What The Urine In Better Call Saul's 'Bagman' Episode Really Was

"Better Call Saul," Vince Gilligan's prequel to the smash hit "Breaking Bad," kicks off its sixth and final season on April 18. As its parent series tracked the transformation of a meek high school teacher into a homicidal drug kingpin, "Better Call Saul" follows scam artist Jimmy McGill's de-evolution into attorney Saul Goodman — complete with shiny white Cadillac and obnoxious television ads.

AMC's hit — Rotten Tomatoes registers a critic's score of 98% and an audience rating of 96% — stars Bob Odenkirk as McGill/Goodman, Rhea Seehorn as attorney Kim Wexler, and Jonathan Banks as tough guy Mike Ehrmantraut. Odenkirk's on-set heart attack in July doesn't seem to have measurably affected the show's production schedule, but COVID disruptions restricted the show's output to just 10 episodes since Season 4 ended with McGill filing paperwork to change his name in October 2018 (via IMDb).

In Season 5, McGill/Goodman slides in deeper with the Salamanca family and further towards his new and more desperate persona. In Episode 3, "Bagman," he decides to act as a personal courier for $7 million in cash — bail for Lalo Salamanca — and is ambushed by cartel rivals while driving back through the desert in his beat-up Suzuki Esteem. Ehrmantraut rescues him with his rifle and cool head, and once the bullet-riddled Esteem dies underneath them, the two men are forced to trek miles through the desert. The woefully underprepared McGill resorts to replenishing his water bottle with his own urine, but what was Odenkirk really drinking?

Odenkirk was drinking a diluted apple juice concoction

In a 2020 Twitter Q&A thread, writer Gordon Smith said that Odenkirk was actually downing "diluted apple juice, water and a bit of food coloring" mixed quite expertly to look like the real thing. Odenkirk told Conan O'Brien in a Facebook video interview that ordinarily "as long as I'm not bleeding too much" he immerses himself fully in the physical conditions his character is experiencing, but he "drew a line on drinking my own pee."

It seems the conditions were grueling enough without such unnecessary punishment. Gilligan told Variety that "it was over 100 degrees and there's tarantulas and there's these insanely dangerous cacti, but mainly, it's the sun and the lack of water that will just kill you out there." In an AMC featurette available on YouTube, Smith called it "the most grueling episode we've ever done." 

The efforts of Odenkirk, Banks, Gilligan, and their co-workers in extreme circumstances have not gone unrecognized; "Bagman" is highly regarded by both audiences and critics, with a perfect 100% Tomatometer reading and a 9.7 out of 10 among IMDb reviewers

In the AMC featurette, Odenkirk said that Ehrmantraut is his character's "little Yoda" and a key catalyst in his "transformation into a bigger, badder character." While Gilligan did joke to Variety that he "wanted Bob to be method and drink his own pee," fortunately neither he nor Odenkirk thought that transformation required such a revolting bit of method acting.