Lydia Rodarte-Quayle’s (Laura Fraser) most recent appearance on Better Call Saul foreshadowed Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) prison killings from Breaking Bad. This season of Better Call Saul has had no shortage of callbacks to Breaking Bad, and season 5, episode 7, “JMM” included another huge one – a cheeky wink to one of the most violent and memorable episodes in the show’s history.
This episode sees Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) attending a meeting with a group of Madrigal higher-ups to discuss his business’s profits, but also to regroup with Lydia and Peter Schuler (Norbert Weisser) and plot their next move against Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) and the cartel. Gus informed Lydia that Lalo had been sent to jail, but that he was also instructing his men, including Nacho Varga (Michael Mando), to burn down Los Pollos Hermanos, Gus’ restaurant.
Lydia seems incredulous that Lalo is able to make phone calls from prison and suggests that to solve Gus’ problem, Lalo could be killed while in custody. She says, “I know it’s not really my area of expertise, but don’t people get killed in prison all the time? I mean shanked and shivved and whatnot.” Gus shoots down the idea, but Lydia’s line about shankings in prison is an exact description of a plan she helps put into motion years later on Breaking Bad.
In Breaking Bad season 5, episode 8, “Gliding Over All” Lydia assists Walter White with organizing the death of several of Gus’ agents in prison via shanking, just as she suggested with Lalo. Lydia meets with Walt to give him the names of Mike Ehrmantraut’s (Jonathan Banks) henchmen, which Walt then gives to Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen), in the hopes of organizing simultaneous killings due to Jack’s ties to white supremacists in several prisons. The plan is successful, and ten of Mike’s men are killed in a span of two minutes.
What’s ironic about the Better Call Saul line is that while Gus shoots down Lydia’s idea initially, the script is flipped in Breaking Bad‘s shankings, and it’s Gus’s former men who are killed because of Lydia’s actions. Although Lydia herself doesn’t suggest that Mike’s men be killed in prison, the similarities between her suggestion to kill Lalo and the prison murders in Breaking Bad are just too significant for the line to be a coincidence. It’s likely another way that the writers reward eagle-eyed fans of both shows