It has been over half a year since Breaking Bad (BrBa) ended, and after one of the best series finales in recent memory, fans are still talking about the show and wanting more. The finale was great, summing up Walter White’s story in a way only BrBa could do. Creator Vince Gilligan said it was sad to end the show, but wanted to close out the story while the audience was still fully interested. Shortly after the BrBa finale, a spin-off show, Better Call Saul was announced. The show revolves around Saul Goodman, Walter White’s shady lawyer. It was originally thought to only take place in the past, before the BrBa time line, but that has since changed. Originally a 30 minute sit-com, it was later re-developed to a full hour dramedy, and they are going to try and bring back as many of the BrBa crew as they can; writers, producers, directors, etc. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Vine Gilligan (who is creating Better Call Saul with Peter Gould) said that they have planned to employ a fractured time line, which will show scenes from a pre and post Breaking Bad era, essentially acting as a prequel and a sequel show; answering questions on both sides of the BrBa timeline.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for anyone who has not watched BrBa]
This is very exciting news to hear for fans of BrBa. The explosive finale answered many of the large questions of the show, but left a good deal of the smaller ones unanswered. Better Call Saul will revolve around Saul Goodman, so the tone of the show will be different; it takes place in Saul Goodman’s world, not Walter Whites’. The show will be an hour-long and Gilligan said it will be 75 percent comedy and 25 percent drama; BrBa was the opposite. The show will take place primarily in the past, before Walter White rose to drug kingpin, and explore Saul Goodman and how he came to be. What is exciting about the show is the timeline won’t be completely linear, it will jump back and forth. Examples of this from BrBa would be the burned, pink teddy bear floating in the pool all throughout season two, hinting at the plane crash to come. During the fourth season when Gus, Jesse and Mike fly down to Mexico and Jesse cooks meth for the cartel. Throughout the episode they employed flashbacks of Gus and his “partner” meeting with the same cartel members and them killing his partner. And one of the most powerful flash forwards was in the season five premiere when Walter, sporting shaggy hair, full beard and a fake ID, buys a large automatic machine gun in the parking lot of the diner. Though the series eventually gets to these events, Better Call Saul is expected to jump back and forth and could easily split its time between the past and the future.
Another burning question is who will be in Better Call Saul. All of the actors have signified that they would be interested in making cameos, and Gilligan said he expects to write them in. The only exception is Hank Shrader (Dean Norris) who is filming CBS’s Under the Dome and said he does not expect to be able to film Better Call Saul. The one character that Gilligan and Gould did say will be in the show is Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). Mike was Saul’s guy, always doing the dirty work for him. He is also a lifer, someone who has seen it all, which will lend the show extra drama and help shed light on how the underground meth business in Albuquerque came to be. Considering the show is still half a year away from premiering (expected to start on AMC in November), fans can already foresee how the show could end. Using the flash forwards in the time line, the final episode of the series would be very satisfying if it showed both Walter White first walking into Saul’s office to talk about Badger’s bail situation (from season two), and Saul setting up shop elsewhere, after the finale, when he has a new identity and the Walter White era is behind him. However they have it planned, the brain trust behind Breaking Bad knows what they are doing and have indicated that there will be sequel moments incorporated into the new show.
Besides Mike and Saul Goodman some of the other characters fans hope to see are Kuby (Bill Burr), Saul’s wise-cracking handy man who takes care of things when Saul does not want to go to Mike, Wendy the prostitute, Krazy-8, Tuco, Gustavo Fring, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Gus makes the most sense to put in the show considering he rose so quickly to drug kingpin in the Albuquerque scene. Mike was Gus’s right hand man, there for every move, and Mike is going to be one of the main characters; how can Gus not be in Better Call Saul! Fans would love to see Gus’ meteoric rise to the top, as well as any other powerful drug leaders in the area that Gus may have disposed of. Giancarlo Esposito (who played Gus) is on the show Revolution but has no other movies or shows planned as of now. He seems to have the time to film some of the show, and just about everyone in the cast has expressed interest in working with Gilligan again. Unfortunately Dean Norris will not be in the show, which is too bad because a Hank vs Saul battle of wits would have been great. Fans can expect there to be plenty of DEA involvement in the show however. Considering it is a comedy, and Saul is a sleazy lawyer, most episodes should revolve around a comical case or two where Saul represents someone like Badger or Skinny Pete, and then the season arch will most likely be more serious; giving the show their 75 percent comedy and 25 percent drama breakdown.
The two characters that every fan wants to see are obviously Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. The show may overlap with the Breaking Bad timeline a little, but for the most part it will be pre and post BrBa. This means Walter is either dead, or he is a boring chemistry teacher with a full head of hair and only a mustache. Any cameo he makes will be coincidental walk-throughs; Saul was not introduced till season two of BrBa, making all season one events up for grabs, but this would have to take place in the final season of Better Call Saul not any time soon. Skylar (Anna Gunn), Marie (Betsy Brandt) and Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte) have also expressed interest, but could only be coincidental walk-throughs as well. Remember how excited Walter Jr. was to see Saul walk into the car wash during the final season? It would be great to see another excited interaction between the two. Jesse Pinkman on the other hand, could to be in full force. Aaron Paul has already expressed interest in the show and really wants to reprise his role. Jesse in Better Call Saul, before the BrBa timeline, will be a low-level meth dealer named Cap’n Cook; look for references to that name, it is Jesse’s meth cook name before he meets up with Walter White. Jesse could be another character that appears with Saul in flash forwards as well, considering they were the only two who survived the series; same could be said for Marie, Skylar and Walter Jr. Regardless of what happens, Better Call Saul is in the best hands possible and has already planned Breaking Bad sequel story lines to be included, which is more than fans of the show could ever hope for.
Commentary by Chris Dragicevich