Another former Breaking Bad character has joined the cast of Better Call Saul in season 5. Initially billed as a prequel and spin-off starring Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman and Jonathan Banks’ Mike Ehrmantraut, Better Call Saul has magnificently covered the time period before Walt and Jesse began taking the New Mexico meth business by storm in Breaking Bad. The gradual movement from one show to the other has been clear for some time, and the world of Better Call Saul has become more and more familiar to viewers, with the likes of Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Lalo (Tony Dalton) joining the roster.
Better Call Saul now feels only a few short steps from the timeline of Breaking Bad, and season 5 has reintroduced even more recognizable faces. Dean Norris returned as the indomitable Hank Schrader, joined by his faithful partner “Gomie” (Steven Quezada), and the DEA duo are investigating Krazy-8’s connections to the Salamanca family – events that directly relate to the first season of Breaking Bad. More importantly, Jimmy himself is now deeply integrated in the criminal underworld, and the plucky aspiring lawyer that first starred in the spin-off is now very much the shady schemer fans will know from Breaking Bad.
However, Better Call Saul season 5’s “Wexler v. Goodman” included another, more subtle, connection to the world of Breaking Bad. The episode’s “Mike” plot finds Jonathan Banks’ character fully in the employ of Gus Fring and attempting to get rid of the Salamancas by any means necessary, specifically the astute and formidable Lalo. Mike’s plan is to help the authorities connect the death of Fred in Better Call Saul‘s season 4 finale (the wire shop guy) to Lalo, and the former cop achieves this by manipulating a witness and then infiltrating the police station to tamper with their files. Mike learns that the detective in charge of the case is one Tim Roberts, who appears in the episode played by Nigel Gibbs.
As Breaking Bad fans might remember, this isn’t Gibbs’ first appearance in Vince Gilligan’s universe. Detective Roberts made sporadic appearances in seasons 2 and 4 of Breaking Bad, featuring as a police ally of Hank’s in the Heisenberg investigation. Roberts first looks into Walt’s disappearance while he and Jesse are stuck with Tuco Salamanca, and later nabs Marie for stealing. In Breaking Bad‘s fourth season, Detective Roberts takes a leading role in the Heisenberg case, believing Gale to be the famous drug manufacturer and interviewing Gus Fring alongside Hank. Unfortunately Detective Roberts doesn’t cover himself in much glory, and is often outwitted by the more sophisticated criminals of his jurisdiction.
It’s a neat piece of continuity to have Detective Roberts investigating Fred’s murder in Better Call Saul, as it highlights his proximity to the drug operation that Walt will eventually become a key part of. Roberts’ recent appearance feels like a precursor to his later work with Hank in Breaking Bad, setting up his interest in the case. Seeing Roberts on Lalo’s back also reinforces how close the spin-off has now come to Breaking Bad and adds another familiar character to the Albuquerque melting pot with only a season and a half of Better Call Saul remaining.