In Breaking Bad's final season, our anti-hero Walter White started his new life as Mr. Lambert in a desolate New Hampshire cabin. What became clear is that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, and ultimately you can't run from your problems. How very moral! The same can be said when Saul Goodman (a.k.a Jimmy McGill) started his new life in Omaha, setting up shop as Gene the Cinnabon manager. Now as his own show Better Call Saul comes into its own, it is becoming increasingly apparent that said grass is far from green at all.
Everything Went 'Bad'
Robert Forster's appearance in the closing season of Breaking Bad was not only a treat for Jackie Brown fans, but was a crucial reset button for two of our main characters. Forster played Ed, the no nonsense 'extractor' who did more than just repair vacuum cleaners. BB always had the running joke that if you were in trouble, you would ask for a dust filter for a Hoover Max Extract® 60 Pressure Pro™. At first, this seemed to be a McGuffin (like the Pulp Fiction suitcase) but our patience finally paid off. We sat through acid baths, exploding wheelchairs, even Skyler's annoying portrayal to finally see what would happen when you asked for the dust filter for a Hoover Max Extract® 60 Pressure Pro™. It turns out that not only does Ed repair vacuums (he really does), he is also a relocation expert, giving you a new alias. Ironically, the dust filter for a Hoover Max Extract® 60 Pressure Pro™ is a real vacuum... It just doesn't have a dust filter.
After Breaking Bad, with Walter White a distant memory, thoughts turned to what had happened to wisecracking slime-ball, Saul Goodman. For four seasons we saw him slither out of just about every situation, serving as the series punch-bag and protagonists's lawyer. Goodman had joked that his retirement would involve a Cinnabon franchise in Omaha, so when Vince Gilligan (BB's creator) hinted that Saul would be getting his own show in 2012, we finally thought we would find out.
Jim'll Fix It
Vince Gilligan's prequel, and Saul centric spin-off, would follow a pre-Walter world. This isn't to say that the likes of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul won't show their faces. Paul is far more likely to cameo because he had met Saul previously, although to have a background appearance of Cranston could be the ultimate fan Easter egg. Cranston put further fuel on the fire, but as of yet the dream hasn't been met:
'Better Call Saul' is a show that stands on its own and does quite well. It's a terrific show. I love it. That being said, if Vince thought that there was some legitimate reason why my character would brush up against those characters, I would do it. I would do it in a heartbeat because I owe him – and because it's a great show.
But back to the man himself! Gilligan promised a time in Saul's life when he wasn't even Saul, so for a short time the legend of Cinnabon Saul seemed lost in the history pages. But this being Gilligan, he is more than happy to mess with our timelines.
Living a life where you constantly have to look over your own shoulder in fear of being recognised is something increasingly hard for someone as well known as Saul. Well when you have a 50 foot billboard with your face on it, you are kind of asking for it. What (little) we have seen of post-Breaking Bad Saul has all but proven this point.
Season 1 of Better Call Saul gifted us that treat of Cinnabon Saul. The pilot episode "Uno" revealed that Saul (now called Gene) has a drab existence - going from T.V personality to sad singleton. At home and fixing himself a rusty nail, Gene (Saul) rifles through old tapes and reclines in his La-Z-Boy. The tapes... None other than his old Saul Goodman adverts.
The Season 2 premiere "Switch" gives us more of Gene. His Cinnabon life still has echoes of Saul that live inside Gene. He may be on the lam, but just as with Walter, his old life rings true. When locked in a bin store, 'Gene' is hesitant to set off the alarm to escape, presumably not wanting to alert police to our humble franchise manager. Locked in for hours, Gene is left to his own devices, scratching 'S.G was here' on the wall. You can take the boy out of Albuquerque...
Back to the Future
Arguably the Gene scenes are some of the highlights of Better Call Saul. The grainy, black and white, film noir atmosphere and tense lack of dialogue sugget that something bad is coming. But with the fresh smell of cinnamon buns in the air, Gene's mundane life in Omaha may continue for a while. I'm pretty confident that soon, the dough will go stale on his cinnamon dream, and Saul Goodman's past is sure to catch up with him.
Maybe we will get a post-Better Call Saul sequel, following a retired Saul, wheelchair-bound in Casa Tranquila (the infamous BB retirement home). I even have a title for it... Shouldv'e Called Saul.
I don't know about you, but I can't wait for Jimmy's transformation into Saul (past timeline) and the resurrection of Saul in Omaha (present timeline). But in a Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul universe, justice is sweeter than a cinnamon bun. Chances are Gene will lose his life in some ironic way, diced a la Fargo in a Cinnabon mixing bowl, or be bludgeoned to death with his own mop. Whatever Vince Gilligan has planned, we are hooked to everyone's love/hate lawyer.