In what ways will Better Call Saul season 5 continue the prequel’s intersection with Breaking Bad? The ascension (or the fall, depending on your perspective) of Walter White made Breaking Bad a cultural phenomenon and that legacy has been carried forward by the spinoff series, Better Call Saul. Winding the story back to 2002, 6 years before the era of Breaking Bad, the second series was originally touted as the backstory of Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman, but has gradually come to encompass the entire Breaking Bad landscape.
As much as Better Call Saul charts Saul’s ascent (or, once again, descent), it also fleshes out the history of Jonathan Banks’ Mike, Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus Fring and the overall development of the New Mexico methamphetamine industry. One of the most intriguing parts of the spinoff is that each season of Better Call Saul begins to slip into familiar territory. The audience gradually sees the pieces of Breaking Bad‘s world fall into place, adding context to what fans already know and love.
Better Call Saul is now confirmed to run for just 2 more seasons, so the definitive crossover point with Breaking Bad is very much in sight. Accordingly, the rapidly-approaching penultimate run takes viewers closer to the original series than ever before in terms of character debuts and development, as well as the various story arcs in play. Here’s how Better Call Saul is closer to Breaking Bad.
Saul Is Finally Saul
The central tenet of Better Call Saul as a predecessor to Breaking Bad is watching Jimmy McGill slowly transform into Saul Goodman, and small flashes of that have been present ever since the opening season. The very first time Jimmy used the Saul alias, his history as a conman told through flashbacks and the scams Jimmy runs in the modern day have all built towards the inevitable metamorphosis. But it wasn’t until Better Call Saul‘s season 4 finale that Jimmy seriously became Saul Goodman. While testifying at his appeal hearing, Jimmy dropped his principles and used his brother’s death to engineer his way to a positive outcome – and was proud of it afterwards, embracing the brash persona of Saul over the more sensitive Jimmy.
Better Call Saul season 5 represents a seismic shift in Jimmy’s character. Previously, Odenkirk’s character has always held on to some semblance of good. The audience knows Jimmy wants to become an honest, hard-working lawyer and he’s gone above and beyond to try and achieve that goal. But after 4 seasons of setbacks, Better Call Saul season 5 finally shows Jimmy officially practicing law as Saul. Any aspirations towards elder law have been dropped, and the plan for a joint practice with Kim are firmly set aside. Now Jimmy is solely focused on helping the criminals of Albuquerque walk free, regardless of whether they deserve to or not. Jimmy will also collaborate more regularly with Huell, one of his associates in Breaking Bad.
Hank Has Arrived
Better Call Saul‘s big Breaking Bad cast addition in season 5 is Hank Schrader, once again played by Dean Norris. The reintroduction of Hank is hugely welcome, but would’ve been difficult to pull off convincingly in the spinoff’s earlier seasons. As a DEA agent, Hank is the natural enemy of New Mexico’s drug lords but, unlike in Breaking Bad, Jimmy McGill wasn’t entrenched in that murky world right away. Better Call Saul‘s initial episodes focused more on the title character’s flailing legal career, while Mike was easing himself gently into a life of illegality. Hank’s arrival in Better Call Saul season 5 is a sure sign that the emphasis of the show has shifted and the danger is mounting.
Not only is Mike now neck deep in the narcotics trade, but Jimmy’s newfound career as Saul brings him into direct contact with the cartel, offering a more natural entry point for Hank. Furthermore, the investigative work Hank undertakes in Better Call Saul could feed directly into his determination to catch Heisenberg in Breaking Bad. If Hank is now setting his sights on the Salamanca family and the mysterious puppet master than he has no idea is the local chicken restaurant owner, this neatly sets up Hank’s role as Tom to Walter White’s Jerry, as played out in Breaking Bad.
Mike Is Working For Gus Full Time
Although the transition is more subtle, Better Call Saul is as much about Mike’s introduction into criminality as it is Jimmy’s. The jaded ex-cop starts out taking some shady odd jobs, but steers clear of anything that could bring too much heat upon his family – ferrying some drugs here, intimidating a guy there. Just like Walt and Jimmy, however, personal attachments and the lure of good money draws Mike deeper into the criminal underworld, and the emergence of Gus Fring has provided him with a rich new source of work. Mike’s calm and collected approach was always at odds with the more hot-headed Salamancas, but Gus is a man after his own heart, cautious and considered.
In Better Call Saul season 4, Mike became involved with Gus Fring, and was asked to oversee the excavation project that’ll eventually lead to the construction of a meth super-lab. Mike agrees, but the dig doesn’t go to plan when the lead architect launches an escape attempt, and Mike is forced to execute the runaway Werner. This was undoubtedly a watershed moment, since Werner was not only a civilian, but someone Mike personally liked, and his killing marks a point of no return for Jonathan Banks’ character. Where does Mike go next? Deeper down the rabbit hole, of course, and Better Call Saul season 5 sees him under Gus’ employ in a fuller capacity.
Gus Is Taking Over
In Breaking Bad, Gus Fring’s meth empire outgrows the confines of Don Eladio’s cartel, and Gus eventually wields enough power to have the head of the operation cut off, standing tall as the sole kingpin. In Better Call Saul, however, Gus is introduced very much still under the thumb of Eladio, and the chicken man’s big early victory was merely bringing the Don more cash than the Salamanca family. In Better Call Saul season 5, however, Gus is in a position far closer to where the audience finds him in Breaking Bad.
Giancarlo Esposito’s character has already taken advantage of dissent among the Salamancas to establish himself as the chief distributor in the territory, but his workings are now being disrupted by a Lalo-shaped spanner. Between the inexperienced Nacho and the incapacitated Hector, the Salamanca family was ripe for the taking, but the emergence of the shrewd and dangerous Lalo threatens to drive the famous name back to prominence. Better Call Saul season 5 will undoubtedly see Lalo continue to investigate and fight back against the Gus Fring takeover, but if Gus can overcome that final Salamanca salvo, he’ll be in more or less the same position as he was when first introduced in Breaking Bad.
Hector Salamanca Has His Bell
One of Breaking Bad‘s most popular memes was Hector Salamanca and his bell. Left badly injured as a result of a botched assassination attempt, Hector can only communicate via use of a bell throughout his time in Breaking Bad, and this made the character somewhat of an unintentional icon for the show. Better Call Saul explores Hector’s life before the incident that left him wheelchair-bound and reveals how the former cartel member came to be in such a poor state of health. Towards the end of Better Call Saul‘s fourth season, the audience learns that Lalo was the one who gave Hector his bell, and this sets up the Hector Breaking Bad fans know and love in time for season 5.
That Better Call Saul season 5 will feature Hector frantically dinging his trademark bell is a firm indication that the prequel is now rapidly encroaching onto Breaking Bad‘s territory. As well as being a symbol of the Salamanca family’s fall and Gus Fring’s rise, viewers will see how Hector adjusts to his enforced new mode of communication, and how those around him now view the patriarch, especially in light of Lalo’s arrival. It may not be an integral piece of the story, but Hector and his bell is another part of the Breaking Bad puzzle Better Call Saul season 5 moves into place.