Fans of “Better Call Saul” have been waiting more than seven years for the Bob Odenkirk-led series with Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman ( Aaron Paul) worlds to intersect. This week’s spinoff series, aptly titled “Breaking Bad,” offers audiences all of that and more.
The episode switches back and forth between black and white timelines, featuring Thor’s “Breaking Bad” character Gene Takovic in Omaha, and Thor Goodman in “Breaking Bad” season 2 world. Sadly, Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) are stuck in the past (at least for now).
In the Gene timeline, our favorite Cinnabon manager is reliving his days in Albuquerque, plotting yet another plan with cab driver Jeffy (Pat Healy), who recognized Gene when he was Saul. Together they swiped enough personal information to steal the identities of dozens of dudes, but it’s clear that Gene/Saul/Jimmy isn’t for the reward, but because he’s missing the “game.” In last week’s episode of “Nippy,” Gene arranged a small department store heist for Jeff in exchange for his silence about his true identity. This time, Gene is for the thrill.
In the “Breaking Bad” season 2 flashback, Thor is strapped into a recognizable, bullet-laden RV before being dragged into a shallow grave by two mysterious men. “Oh no, no, no!” he pleaded. “It’s not me, it’s Ignacio! It’s him!” We’ve seen this scene before in the “Better Call Saul” episode of “Breaking Bad” season 2, when Albuquerque’s most famous meth The first time the chefs meet their criminal lawyer. Back then, it was a one-off line. Now, with the dramatic death of Nacho (Michael Mando) still fresh in our minds, it puts everything in context and locks both series in place. “Better Call Saul” has been a prequel series throughout its run, which also teased the aftermath of “Breaking Bad.” However, at this moment, the two series are unfolding at the same time.
Walter and Jesse first meet Thor in “Breaking Bad” as he represents one of their dealers, Jesse’s friend Badger, who is arrested for distributing meth. Afraid that Badger will hand Heisenberg (aka Walter) to the DEA, Walter enters Sol’s office posing as Badger’s uncle and offers him $10,000 to advise Badger to keep quiet. Saul kicked him out for bribes. As a last resort, Walt and Jesse kidnap Thor in the desert and terrorize him, promising that he’ll advise the Badger to keep quiet. They wear ski masks to hide their identities, but Sol recognizes Walter’s cough and asks him and Jesse to keep a dollar in their pockets…you know, for attorney-client privilege. In Kimchi, Sol agreed not to make a deal with the DEA.
Now in the “Better Call Saul” flashback, we get a new scene where we finally get to see the faces of Walt and Jesse as the trio re-enters the RV (Cranston and Paul filmed this key sequence for the first time) 13 years later). Saul admired the makeshift meth lab and correctly speculated that Walter was actually Heisenberg. Walt and Jesse are arguing (oh, how I miss Breaking Bad), and Saul is biting them in the door after being held at gunpoint for a few minutes. After a brief silence, Jesse asked Saul, “Who is Lalo?”
In the “Breaking Bad” version of the intimidation scene, Thor asks Walt and Jesse if Lalo is sending them. Back then, too, Lalo was just a random name, not the infamous Salamanca villain we’ve grown to fear in “Better Call Saul.” The lawyer pauses for a moment—perhaps thinking about representing Lalo, crossing the desert with his bail money, the failed assassination attempt, the hoax against Howard, Lalo’s surprise visit, Howard’s murder, losing gold—and then simply Answers: “No one.”
Later in the episode, Saul sits in his office with Mike (Jonathan Banks), who gives him intelligence about his potential client. “Even if this guy survived, I wouldn’t go near him. He’s a complete amateur,” Mike said of Walter. “If cancer hadn’t infected him, it would have been a police officer or a bullet in the head.”
“I have a feeling about that,” Sol countered. “There’s something about this Heisenberg. It’s a top-of-the-line product, it’s the talk of the street, and I just think there’s the right management…” Mike interrupted. “Let it go,” he said. Saul ignores his advice and goes to JP Wynne High School, where Walter is teaching chemistry. He goes to the science building, but that’s all we get in this episode. Of course, it doesn’t matter. We know what’s coming next.
Don’t forget, at the beginning of this blockbuster episode is Gene’s phone call with his former secretary, Francesca (Tina Parker). It’s been a while since the events of “Breaking Bad” and the spinoff “El Camino”, so Francesca (she’s now a landlord helping her 20-something tenant unclog the sink) is updating Gene on his friends and The state of the former colleague is in Albuquerque. Here’s what we learned:
- Things have cooled down, but Francesca still gets attention from time to time. She said her email was opened and her home phone was tapped. “Skyler White got her deal, so it’s just you and Pinkman,” she told Gene, “I heard they found his car at the border.” Francesca was actually referring to Skinny Pete’s car, which was Badger drives a Ford Thunderbird to the Mexican border in “El Camino” to chase away the police. As far as we know, Jesse is living a peaceful life in Alaska after escaping the Nazi compound and starting a new life with Ed the Vanished.
- Police are still looking for Saul Goodman.
- The FBI uncovered nail salons, vending machines, and laser tag farms that Walter, Jesse, and Saul used to launder money.
- When asked how Saul’s confidant Patrick Cooper (Bill Burr) is doing, Francesca replies, “I don’t know,” but she says Hugh Barbino (Ravel Crawford) ) is back home in New Orleans. Apparently, he walked because the DEA detained him under a false name.
- District Attorney Bill Oakley (Peter Diess), who appeared in “Better Call Saul”, has “changed his side” and became a defense attorney.
- At some point, Kim called Francesca to check on her and asked Jimmy if he was still alive. Francesca said she didn’t tell Kim Jimmy’s current whereabouts (or new identity).
This last realization made Gene bolder to call Kim, who we learned now works in Titusville, Florida, presumably because she gave up her license and is no longer a lawyer. We haven’t heard anything from their conversations, and it’s not clear if they’re connected. But anything that happened on the other line upset Gene, who slammed the phone on the dial and kicked the glass payphone box until it shattered.
“Better Call Saul” is two more episodes away, and we haven’t seen Kim since she left Jimmy, so we’re hoping for a black-and-white joy in the future.