When it was first announced that Breaking Bad would have a spinoff show based on the seedy lawyer Saul Goodman, it sounded questionable. But as Better Call Saul gears up for its final season, it has proven to be one of the best shows on television. Some might even say it improves on Breaking Bad in certain ways.
One of the most impressive aspects of the show is its central villain in the later seasons, Lalo Salamanca. Though the Breaking Bad universe has had plenty of effective bad guys throughout the years, Lalo is a unique threat who may just rank higher than the rest.
Lalo first appears on the show in Season 4 and comes out of nowhere without any warning. As the audience tries to figure out who this guy is and what he is after, Lalo keeps them on edge. And that sense of unease is maintained whenever he is onscreen.
Lalo is like a wrench thrown into the machinery that throws everything into chaos. Despite his big personality, it’s impossible to predict how he is going to act and what he’ll do next. His appearance has injected a new sense of thrill to the show.
Alternative: Tuco Salamanca
It seems like unpredictability runs in the Salamanca family, as Lalo’s cousin Tuco was even more of an unhinged maniac than Lalo. Tuco was the first big villain to be established in Breaking Bad as he hires Walt and Jesse to cook for him.
Throughout their partnership, Walt and Jesse were both terrified of Tuco, as it always felt like he could snap at any moment and kill them. Given how organized and grounded Walt was with his operation, Tuco was a force of nature that was ready to tear everything down with him.
There is a sense of total ease to Lalo’s personality. He never seems to be sweating anything, despite being in a very dangerous line of work. But when trouble comes his way, he seems to always know how to get himself out of it.
Whether it is having a murder pinned on him or a squad of assassins sent after him, Lalo seems to always know how to walk away unscathed. The season ends with him surviving a huge assassination attempt, which solidified him as someone who would not go easily.
Alternative: Uncle Jack
One very effective way to make an audience immediately hate a villain is to make them a Nazi. Such is the case with Uncle Jack, the ruthless leader of a group of white supremacists who get involved in Walt’s business.
While he starts off as a deadly gun for hire, Jack soon becomes a more serious villain, which leads to him killing Hank and stealing most of Walt’s money. As the final villain in Breaking Bad, Jack makes for an ideal scumbag worthy of cheering against.
It takes a truly great villain for them to do something horrific yet still make the viewer want to spend time with them. Lalo is a character that pulls off this feat extremely well. He is a funny, charming, and still totally intimidating bad guy.
A lot of this has to do with the excellent performance by Tony Dalton, as well as the superb writing. It makes for the most fun villain to watch in this universe, and one who everyone wants to see stick around for a long time to come.
Alternative: Todd Alquist
The Breaking Bad universe has been very good at creating villains who feel different from the ordinary. One of the best examples of this is with the character of Todd. Instead of just making him another sadistic madman, Todd is a sociopath that doesn’t realize how evil he is.
He does horrible things and kills innocent people in such a matter-of-fact way. He doesn’t have any emotion, yet isn’t robotic either. He speaks politely and kindly to people, even when he is torturing or threatening them.
As soon as Lalo showed up, he set his sights on Gus Fring and sought to bring him down. From what the audience already knew about Fring from this series and Breaking Bad, it seemed like Lalo would find himself in over his head.
However, it turns out Lalo was more than a match for Fring. Though he is not as reserved as Fring, Lalo is a cunning adversary who has proven to be much more of a problem than he initially seemed. If he can back a guy like Fring into the corner, that’s certainly impressive.
Alternative: Gus Fring
Gus Fring is another fascinating villain from this universe who proved to be Walt’s most serious adversary. It is another great take on a villain one might not expect in a story like this. Fring is a businessman who treats his illegal business as seriously as his legal business.
Beneath his calm and cold demeanor, Fring’s motivations and backstory are also very intriguing. He is the perfect foil for Walt, and his final scene in Breaking Bad has become iconic.
Lalo: Saul’s Biggest Threat
It seemed like Lalo came out of nowhere and just showed up on the show. However, it seems Lalo’s significance to Saul’s story was hinted at way back in Saul’s first appearance in Breaking Bad.
When Jesse and Walt kidnap Saul, he assumes they are here to kill him. Begging for mercy, he says “It wasn’t me, it was Ignacio.” When they become confused, he asks “Lalo didn’t send you?” This seems to suggest when the final season explores Saul’s future, Lalo will still be a threat.
Alternative: Walter White
It’s hard to argue that Walter White is one of the greatest television characters ever created. Seeing his journey from mild-mannered family man to crime lord was so fascinating. And as he evolved throughout the series, Walt gradually became the villain of his own story.
While he comes up against many antagonists throughout the series, none do more damage to his life and the life of those around him like Walt himself.