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How Better Call Saul’s Final Season Connects to Breaking Bad

11 minute read

Better Call Saul is back with its two-part sixth and final season and star Bob Odenkirk has promised that the Breaking Bad prequel will be more entwined with its predecessor than ever before. “It’s just amazing how many overlaps [the writers] discovered and mined for this season of our show,” Odenkirk, who plays the titular Saul Goodman, told Entertainment Weekly ahead of the season 6 premiere on April 18. “For people who watch this [season], it’s going to be like, ‘I gotta go watch Breaking Bad again,’ as soon as they’re done,” he said. “There’s just so much interaction now. More than any other season. By a lot.”

Odenkirk’s slick lawyer ​​Saul made his debut in season 2 of Breaking Bad, which ran from 2008 to 2013, when he helped the blue meth making duo of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) out of a legal jam. He went on to play a pivotal role—it’s Saul who introduces Walter and Jesse to former cop-turned-cartel heavy Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and drug kingpin and restaurateur Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), setting up the bloody events of Breaking Bad’s later seasons. Saul’s unexplained connections to the legal and criminal worlds were mysterious enough to warrant the character his own spinoff. Better Call Saul, which premiered in 2015, is set about six years before the events of Breaking Bad kick off. Over five seasons, the show has tracked how a small-time Chicago con man named Jimmy McGill lost his soul and became a friend of the cartel known as Saul Goodman. The final season of Better Call Saul will conclude Jimmy’s complicated journey to becoming Walter White’s consigliere, and also offer conclusions to the stories of Breaking Bad no-shows, like the crafty drug cartel leader Lalo (Tony Dalton), the cartel’s double-agent Nacho (Michael Mando) and Jimmy’s love interest and partner-in-crime Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn).

Better Call Saul’s last season also marks the first time the series intersects directly with the events and timeline of Breaking Bad. But Jimmy’s story doesn’t end with Breaking Bad—in black-and-white flash-forwards shown throughout the series, viewers see Odenkirk’s character fleeing New Mexico as a fugitive and living under the new identity of Gene Takovic, the manager of a Cinnabon in Omaha who longs for his glory days as a stripmall attorney. It’s a sweet callback to the final season of Breaking Bad when Saul tells Walt amidst the chaos of his meth empire crumbling, “If I’m lucky. A month from now, best-case scenario, I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha.”

Better Call Saul is full of Breaking Bad Easter eggs that include cameos from notable characters including Krazy-8 (​​Maximino Arciniega), DEA agent Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) and his partner ​​Steven “Gomie” Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada). The final run of episodes will feature more familiar faces, including a cameo from Walt and Jesse, and notable Breaking Bad storylines that may play out differently than fans remember. “These two worlds cross over in a way that you haven’t seen before, that’s for sure,” Better Call Saul co-creator and showrunner Peter Gould told Variety in April. Below are some of the lingering questions Better Call Saul has raised, and how details from Breaking Bad could help answer them.

Michele K. Short/AMC/Everett Collection

Lalo’s revenge tour

Season 5 ends with Lalo, the nephew of drug kingpin Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis), narrowly escaping an assassination attempt by his frenemy Gus Fring with help from a frying pan full of hot oil. He’s now on a mission for revenge against Gus, as well as anyone he believes could have been involved in the failed hit, including Nacho and his recently appointed lawyer Saul Goodman. Lalo never appears in Breaking Bad, but Saul does say his name once, during his second season debut. After being kidnapped by a masked Walter and Jesse in the appropriately titled episode “Better Call Saul,” a panicked Saul tries to convince them he’s a friend of the cartel. “No, it wasn’t me. It was Ignacio. He’s the one,” he blurts out only to discover they are not with the cartel. “Lalo didn’t send you? No Lalo?” he says with a sense of relief. The final episodes of Better Call Saul should offer context for that seemingly throwaway line, which shows just how much fear Lalo still strikes in the heart of Saul.

Last season, Saul became unwittingly enmeshed in the battle between Lalo and Gus—and nearly lost his life in the Mexican desert while trying to retrieve $7 million Lalo needed to bail himself out of jail after committing a murder in cold blood. In Breaking Bad, Saul is a friend to Gus, and even helps him team up with Walt, a partnership that doesn’t end well for the Los Pollos Hermanos founder. When Walter starts working for Gus in season 2 of Breaking Bad, the Chicken Man is running an underground meth lab disguised as an industrial laundromat, the construction of which becomes an important plotline in Better Call Saul. By season 5 of the prequel, the building of Gus’s superlab has been put on hold by Lalo, who has become increasingly suspicious of Gus. The fact that Gus finishes the lab could mean Lalo is out of the picture for good. Is it possible Saul had a hand in getting rid of Lalo? Does Saul break his client attorney privilege and give Lalo up to the District Attorney? An extended prison sentence would explain why the mustachioed drug runner doesn’t make an appearance in Breaking Bad, but would still haunt Saul. It would also explain why Saul is so friendly with Gus in Breaking Bad.

However, in the Breaking Bad season 4 episode “Crawl Space,” Gus taunts Hector by telling him that all the other Salamancas are dead. While this implies that Lalo didn’t survive, is it possible that he was able to fake his own death and is living like a ghost? In a recent interview, Dalton hinted that fans are going to see just how crafty Lalo is in the final season. “You see him in circumstances and places that you would’ve never ever pictured this guy going,” he told The Ringer in April. “You find out how smart and tenacious this guy can be, because he turns out to be a very strategic thinker.” Maybe even calculated enough to convince people he had been assassinated? Gene might want to watch his back.

Where’s Kim Wexler?

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler - Better Call Saul _ Season 6 - Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television
Rhea Seehorn in Better Call SaulGreg Lewis—AMC/Sony Pictures Television

It is the question on every Better Call Saul fan’s mind as the series comes to a close. Kim, the do-gooder lawyer with a wild streak, is never seen or even mentioned on Breaking Bad so it’s hard to find clues to her whereabouts in the Walter White-focused series. Rhea Seehorn teased that this upcoming season will explore Kim’s backstory and offer some context for her motivations. “Can you operate in a bubble and can you have actions not have reactions and consequences?” Seehorn told Entertainment Weekly before the April premiere. “Kim is very much flirting with thinking that you can.” In season 6, Kim’s “actions are larger and the consequences are larger,” Seehorn said. “People finding out the consequences for their actions and having opportunities to get out of something before it goes too far is a constant question, and Kim’s facing those same dangers. To me, it was inevitable that those dangers [would] have to be intertwined. We even saw Lalo come to her safe haven, and I think that the reckoning with that is not over.”

In the penultimate episode of Better Call Saul season 5, Lalo shows up at Jimmy and Kim’s door to interrogate him over what happened in Mexico when he went to go get his bail money. After finding Jimmy’s car in a ditch covered in bullet holes , Lalo doesn’t believe his alibi that he just experienced a little car trouble on his way back. Kim ends up calling Lalo out for not having “his house in order,” questioning why he would send Jimmy, his lawyer, to do his dirty work for him when he’s got other guys who could do that. “Lalo is not okay with being embarrassed like that and pushed around,” Odenkirk told Entertainment Weekly. “My assumption is that Lalo thinks, ‘Well now, I’ve got two lawyers. They owe me, both of them. And she’s sharp. So now I’ve got a really high-class, sharp lawyer.’”

Showrunner Peter Gould has teased that fans should keep their eye on the distinctive bottle stopper Kim earned in season 2 after pulling her first scam with Jimmy. The agave leaf-covered cork from the fictional brand of tequila known as Zafiro Añejo has become a symbol of Jimmy and Kim’s relationship. It was also the one thing Kim took from her office as she left her job at her corporate law job for a pro bono public defender position. (The topper pops up in the cold open of the season 6 premiere.)

That brand of tequila does have an important Breaking Bad connection. In the season 4 episode, “Salud,” Gus uses a poisoned bottle of Zafiro to take out Don Eladio (Steven Bauer) and the rest of the cartel leaders, finally earning his freedom. Perhaps, the bottle topper is a sign that Kim was also able to get free from Lalo or anyone else trying to control her and is still alive. It’s also possible Don Eladio wasn’t the first person Gus took out with a shot of tequila.

Walter White and Jesse Pinkman make their return

Following the news that Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul would make a cameo in the final season of Better Call Saul, Paul told The Hollywood Reporter that it was inevitable that the characters would return for this final run of episodes. “I’m excited that we did and how we did,” he said. Paul revealed that the writers found an unexpected way to bring them back. “It’s fun,” he said. “I think people are going to be excited.”

The official Better Call Saul Twitter account announced Walt and Jesse’s return by posting a photo of the duo from the season 2 episode “Negro Y Azul,” which is the episode that aired right before the one in which they meet Saul Goodman. This signals that season 6 will see a time jump that could show what Saul was up to right before and after Walt came into his life. It’s unlikely—though not impossible—that the late Walter White will cross paths with Jimmy/Saul/Gene in Nebraska. It is also possible that Jesse, who escaped to Alaska in the Breaking Bad sequel film El Camino, could have some unfinished business with the former lawyer. That would certainly be unexpected.

Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring, Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut - Better Call Saul _ Season 6 - Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television
Giancarlo Esposito and Jonathan Banks in Better Call SaulGreg Lewis—AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Not everything you saw in Breaking Bad is what it seemed

As the Better Call Saul timeline intersects with Breaking Bad, Seehorn told Entertainment Weekly that “it’s not just specific to faces and places” but “also story lines from Breaking Bad, and understanding the peripheral parts of some of them, and some of the Rashomon effect of what was going on when.” The Rashomon effect is a reference to the Akira Kurosawa film of the same name which showed the same events from different characters’ points of view, often revealing drastic changes in how the events occurred for each person. The hope is that Better Call Saul’s final season could help recontextualize what fans thought they knew about Breaking Bad.

“I think by the time you finish watching Better Call Saul, you’re going to see Breaking Bad in a very different light,” Gould told The Hollywood Reporter in 2020. “I think we’re going to learn things about the characters in Breaking Bad that we didn’t know. We’re going to learn things about the events of Breaking Bad that we didn’t know. And we’re going to learn things about the fates of a lot of these characters that may surprise people or certainly throw them into a different light.” That is to say: the devil’s in the details and the many devils of Better Call Saul are worth keeping an eye on.

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