SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read if you haven’t watched the 11th episode of “Better Call Saul” Season 6, titled “Breaking Bad.”
“Better Call Saul” fans have waited over seven years for the Bob Odenkirk-directed series to intersect with the world of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). This week’s episode of the spinoff, aptly titled “Breaking Bad,” provided viewers with all of that and more.
The episode moves back and forth between the black-and-white timeline, which features Saul’s post-“Breaking Bad” character Gene Takovic in Omaha, and Saul Goodman’s world in “Breaking Bad” season 2. Unfortunately, Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) remain in the past (at least for now).
In Gene’s timeline, our favorite Cinnabon manager relives his days in Albuquerque, orchestrating another scheme with taxi driver Jeffy (Pat Healy), who had recognized Gene since he was Saul. Together they slip enough personal information to steal the identities of a few dozen guys, but it’s clear that Gene/Saul/Jimmy isn’t really there for the rewards, but because he misses “the game” . In last week’s episode, “Nippy,” Gene stages a mini department store heist for Jeffy in exchange for him keeping his true identity quiet. This time, Gene is here for the thrills.
In the “Breaking Bad” Season 2 flashback, Saul is tied up in a recognizable, bullet-riddled RV before being dragged outside into a shallow grave by two mysterious men. “Oh no, no, no!” he pleads. “It wasn’t me, it was Ignacio! That’s the one!” We’ve seen this exact scene before in the Season 2 episode of “Breaking Bad” titled “Better Call Saul,” when Albuquerque’s most famous meth cooks first meet their criminal lawyer. At the time, it was a disposable line. Now, six seasons into the spinoff with the dramatic death of Nacho (Michael Mando) still fresh in our minds, it puts everything into context and locks both series in place. Throughout its run, “Better Call Saul” has served as a prequel series that also teases the aftermath of “Breaking Bad.” Right now, however, both series are happening simultaneously.
Walt and Jesse first met Saul in “Breaking Bad” because he represented one of their dealers, Badger, Jesse’s friend, who was arrested for distributing meth. Afraid that Badger would give up Heisenberg (aka Walt) at the DEA, Walt walks into Saul’s office posing as Badger’s uncle and offers him $10,000 to advise Badger to shut up. Saul kicks him out for the bribe. As a last resort, Walt and Jesse kidnap Saul and intimidate him in the desert, assuring that he will advise Badger to shut up. They’re wearing ski masks to conceal their identities, but Saul recognizes Walt’s cough and demands that he and Jesse put a dollar in his pocket…you know, for attorney-client privilege. In a pickle, Saul agrees not to make a deal with the DEA.
Now, in the “Better Call Saul” flashback, we’re treated to a new scene that takes place as the trio enters the RV, and we finally see the faces of Walt and Jesse (13 years after Cranston and Paul shot this pivotal sequence for the first time). Saul admires the makeshift meth lab and correctly assumes that Walt is, in fact, Heisenberg. Walt and Jesse bicker (oh, how I missed “Breaking Bad”), and Saul, minutes after being held at gunpoint, puts them to the test on his warrant. After a brief silence, Jesse asks Saul, “Who is Lalo?”
In the “Breaking Bad” version of the bullying scene, Saul asks Walt and Jesse if Lalo sent them. At the time, Lalo was just a random name and not the infamous Salamanca villain we learned to fear in “Better Call Saul.” The lawyer pauses for a moment – perhaps thinking about representing Lalo, transporting his bail money across the desert, the failed assassination attempt, the scam against Howard, the Lalo’s surprise visit, Howard’s murder, Kim’s loss – then simply replies, “It’s nobody.”
Later in the episode, Saul sits in his office with Mike (Jonathan Banks), who gives him information about his potential clients. “Even if this guy were to live, I wouldn’t go near him. He’s a complete amateur,” Mike says of Walt. “If the cancer doesn’t get him, it’ll be the cops or a bullet to the head.”
“I had an idea about it,” Saul retorts. “This Heisenberg guy has something. It’s a premium product, it’s the buzz on the street, and I just think with the right direction…” But Mike cuts him off. “Forget it,” he said. Ignoring his advice, Saul arrives at JP Wynne High School, where Walt teaches chemistry. He heads for the science building, but that’s all we get in this episode. It doesn’t matter, of course. We know what happens next.
Not to be forgotten, at the start of this explosive episode is Gene’s call with Francesca (Tina Parker), his former secretary. It’s been a little while since the events of “Breaking Bad” and the spin-off movie “El Camino,” so Francesca (who now owns and helps her twenty-something tenants unclog their sinks) tells Gene about the status of his friends and former associates. in Albuquerque. Here is what we learn:
- Things have calmed down, but Francesca is still followed from time to time. She says her mail is open and her home phone is tapped. “Skyler White got his deal, so it’s just you and Pinkman left,” she told Gene, “and I heard they found his car near the border.” Francesca is actually referring to Skinny Pete’s car, the Ford Thunderbird that Badger drives to the Mexican border in “El Camino” to get rid of the cops. As far as we know, Jesse lives peacefully in Alaska after escaping the Nazi compound and starting a new life, via Ed the Disappearer.
- The cops are still looking for Saul Goodman.
- The Feds found the nail salons, vending machines, and laser tag arena that Walt, Jesse, and Saul were using to launder money.
- When asked how Saul’s henchman Patrick Kuby (Bill Burr) is doing, Francesca replies, “No idea,” but she says Huell Babineaux (Lavell Crawford) is back in New Orleans. Apparently he walked because the DEA detained him under false pretences.
- Bill Oakley (Peter Diseth), the district attorney who appears throughout “Better Call Saul”, has “switched sides” and become a defense attorney.
- At one point, Kim called Francesca to see her and asked her about Jimmy and if he was alive. Francesca says she hasn’t told Kim anything about Jimmy’s current whereabouts (or his new identity).
This latest realization encourages Gene to call Kim, who we learn is now working in Titusville, Florida, probably not as a lawyer since she gave up her license. We don’t hear any audio from their conversation, and it’s unclear if they’re even connected. But whatever happens on the other line upsets Gene, who bangs the phone against the keypad and kicks the glass phone booth until it shatters.
There are two episodes of “Better Call Saul” left, and we haven’t seen Kim since she left Jimmy, so let’s hope for a black and white happily ever after.
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