This post contains SPOILERS for Better Call Saul’s episode “Quite a Ride”
Better Call Saul just overlapped with its parent program, Breaking Bad. Though the spinoff has done more than enough in its years on the air to stand apart from the iconic show that spawned it, Vince Gilligan and the creative team pepper in references throughout the remind audience both series are part of the same universe. The one mandate, of course, is that any crossover needs to be organic to Better Call Saul’s story and not be cheap fan service. It’s for that reason Walter White and Jesse Pinkman have yet to make an appearance.
Smartly, Better Call Saul isn’t just a prequel that chronicles Jimmy McGill’s transformation into the one and only Saul Goodman. Gilligan has played around with the timeline, including black-and-white flash-forwards that show Jimmy’s time as Gene, working at a Cinnabon in Omaha. One thing the show hasn’t done, however, is depict events that run concurrent with Breaking Bad. That is, until now.
The cold open of the episode “Quite a Ride” is set during the tense final season of Breaking Bad, with Saul making the necessary preparations before he’s extracted out of New Mexico and assumes his Gene identity. In Saul’s office, Francesca shreds documents while Goodman frantically collects money he has hidden in the ceiling and the wall. Saul asks Francesca to take two giant trash bags with paper clippings to “separate dumpsters” and gives her two rolls of money for her troubles. Francesca, thoroughly unimpressed with Saul, leaves with the bags while Goodman places a call to Ed so he can be relocated.
At first glance, this sequence has little-to-no bearing on this week’s narrative, but there’s clearly something intentional at play here. The episode’s title is something Saul says to Francesca before they part ways for good, and in many respects, “Quite a Ride” depicts the origins of the aforementioned “ride.” It ends with Jimmy at his monthly pre-prosecution diversion meeting (after the latest of his scams went south), where he vows to be a lawyer again when his punishment is up, only this time it’ll be “bigger and better.” The seeds for the Saul Goodman persona are being planted here, with Jimmy mentioning “people will know about it” when it comes to how skilled a lawyer he is. Fans of Breaking Bad know Saul had no problems promoting himself, with numerous TV commercials and billboards transforming him into a minor celebrity of sorts.
Better Call Saul has taken its time getting to this point, building its own universe and interesting characters to keep viewers engaged. Much of the first three seasons dealt with the complex relationship between Jimmy and his now deceased brother, Chuck. It’s Chuck’s death that serves as the true catalyst to spur this transformation, and viewers are finally seeing the first steps towards that. AMC has already renewed Saul for a fifth season, so the series should continue its gradual progression before bowing out. At the PPD meeting, Jimmy says he wants to be law partners with Kim again, and she is never mentioned in Breaking Bad, so there’s still a ways to go. But Better Call Saul is getting there, if the latest episode is any indication.
Better Call Saul airs Mondays on AMC.