Who Is Julia Clark Downs? Better Call Saul S6, Ep 9 Tribute Explained
Better Call Saul season 6, episode 9 included a touching tribute to a mysterious woman, but exactly who is Julia Clark Downs and what is her connection to the show? Although the hit show heavily fictionalizes aspects of the New Mexico criminal underworld, part of what makes Better Call Saul so compelling is its commitment to realism. Such an accurate atmosphere simply wouldn’t be possible without the involvement of real people like Clark Downs.
In many ways, both Better Call Saul and its predecessor, Breaking Bad, tell larger-than-life tales of criminal enterprise and the drugs trade. However, throughout both series – in particular Better Call Saul – is the sense that the fictional characters that appear on screen are not too far removed from reality. In particular, the titular character of Saul Goodman née Jimmy McGill feels like a genuine representation of the kind of unscrupulous legal expert who is required to facilitate the top end of the drugs trade. Creating such a compelling character is no accident. In fact, much of Better Call Saul‘s authenticity is owed to the involvement of people like Julia Clark Downs.
Who Is Julia Clark Downs?
Julia Clark Downs was a real-life Alberquerque lawyer who acted as a consultant on the show in order to make the actions and decisions of Better Call Saul‘s lawyers as accurate as possible. Having practiced law both independently and as part of the District Attorney’s office, Clark Downs could offer unique insight into the machinations of the New Mexico justice system. Although the full extent of her input is unknown, it’s clear that her expertise were pivotal in making Better Call Saul‘s legal scenes as accurate and representative as possible. Tragically, Clark Downs was killed in a motoring collision, explaining the title card used in Better Call Saul season 6.
Julia Clark Downs Helped Make Better Call Saul Great
Writing any prequel, especially to a show as beloved as Breaking Bad, is never easy. Beyond telling a compelling story, the real point of difference can be found in the details. Building a believable and engaging world requires more than explosive set pieces – it’s about crafting settings and characters that feel like they could actually exist, particularly in an environment as grounded as the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul universe. This is where the expertise of people like Julia Clark Downs are indispensable.
Consulting with those who are actually entrenched in the New Mexico legal system provides Better Call Saul crucial inside information, making it seem even more insightful and informative. Given that the show primarily revolves around legal settings, this approach is absolutely essential. Were it not for the ability to pick the brains of a genuine expert like Julia Clark Downs, it’s likely that Better Call Saul would feel far less deeply-layered and would suffer as a result. In many ways, it’s the details provided by Clark Downs and people like her that have made Better Call Saul’s legal drama so compelling to watch.
Accuracy Consultants Like Julia Clark Downs Were Essential
Julia Clark Downs’ Better Call Saul role was aided by several other accuracy consultants, which most notably include DEA agents who taught Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul how to actually make meth from scratch. In a 2012 interview about Breaking Bad (via High Times), Cranston revealed that the DEA “saw that it might be in their best interest to make sure that we do it correctly. So DEA chemists came onboard as consultants and taught Aaron Paul and me how to make crystal meth.” Though Paul and Cranston didn’t actually synthesize meth with the DEA, the agents taught them the step-by-step process of how to properly do it.
Another colleague of Julia Clark Downs is Breaking Bad science consultant Donna Nelson, an organic chemistry professor at the University of Oklahoma. Nelson was one of the show’s first consultants, and she even had to translate an old German patent to cater to Vince Gilligan’s vision of accurately portraying the science behind the drama. Alongside the DEA, Nelson was essential to how Cranston and Paul learned to cook meth. If it weren’t for consultants like Julia Clark Downs and Donna Nelson, there’s no doubt that Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul wouldn’t be as iconic and beloved as they are today.
MORE: Better Call Saul Season 6 Ending Explained (In Detail)
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