The big Breaking Bad cameo in the season 5 premiere of Better Call Saul was filmed during shooting of El Camino. It’s now been seven years since Breaking Bad left television screens after wrapping up the story of chemistry-teacher-turned-drug-kingpin Walter White, but the legacy of the great AMC show continues to live on.
The continuation, and expansion, of the Breaking Bad universe indeed began only two years after the show went off the air when AMC debuted the spinoff Better Call Saul, which went back in time to before the events of the original series to track the evolution of small-time con-artist and aspiring lawyer Jimmy McGill into the flamboyant Saul Goodman as seen on BB. Now considered a classic show in its own right, Better Call Saul is currently headed into its pivotal fifth season, which sees Goodman at last coming into his own as Albuquerque’s slimiest underworld lawyer. It was recently revealed that the show will continue into a sixth season, which will wrap up the story.
This weekend, AMC aired the first episode of season 5, which began with an extended flash-forward scene of Jimmy/Saul in his other guise, that of Gene the Omaha Cinnabon manager, and featured a huge cameo that brought back a popular Breaking Bad character. That cameo, which saw the late Robert Forster reprising his memorable role of Ed the Disappearer, actually happened thanks to El Camino: A Breaking Bad movie, as BCS executive producer Peter Gould revealed in an interview with EW. As Gould explained, he originally thought bringing Forster back for only a brief appearance would not be feasible, but then Vince Gilligan brought the actor in for El Camino and offered to shoot his brief scene in Better Call Saul as well. Gould said:
That was actually shot on one of the days that they were shooting him in El Camino. And at the time I thought, “This is just great, efficient producing.” It was fun to have that half of the phone call done. But now looking back on it, it’s so much more meaningful to have one last look at Robert in our world. We had the screening of the premiere episode, and there were nine members of his family who came, and it was just so wonderful to see them. And, you know, we miss him. I think if Vince and I had had our way, we would’ve done a lot more together. It’s a very special thing to have him on the show. And, of course, it’s completely organic because we had no idea it was going to be our last chance.
Ed the Disappearer, a vacuum cleaner salesman whose side business was helping people vanish, actually only made one appearance on Breaking Bad, in which he helped Walter White escape Albuquerque, but made such an indelible mark that Gilligan brought him back for El Camino, in which he uses his disappearing skills to help Jesse Pinkman flee the authorities to begin a new life in Alaska. On Better Call Saul, after Gene’s cover is blown by a man who recognizes him from his days as the self-promoting lawyer Goodman, he calls Ed hoping to arrange another disappearance only to change his mind at the last second.
It remains to be seen what Gene will do now that he’s decided to forgo Ed’s services and “fix” the situation in Omaha for himself. Jimmy/Gene of course is a highly resourceful person, but his idea of fixing things usually involves running elaborate scams, not direct violent action like killing someone (as he seems intent on doing now that his cover has been blown). Regardless of the implications for the show, it was great to see Forster back for one last scene as Ed on Better Call Saul, and fans are certainly thankful that good luck allowed the Breaking Bad cameo to come together as it did.