Warning: Spoilers for all of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul Seasons 1 and 2.
Don't call it a comeback, he's been there for years. Vince Gilligan (whom I refer to as Vincenzo McGillicuddy, because I'm an idiot) seems to enjoy messing with his fans a little. In the second season of Breaking Bad, there were four episodes that started with a black and white cold open featuring a pink teddy bear. The names of those episodes when placed next to each other in chronological order were "Seven-Thirty-Seven," "Down," "Over," and "ABQ" (the airport code for Albuquerque). This playful foreshadowing told us exactly how the season would end: with an airplane crashing over the city due to the fallout of Walter White's actions.
Well, with Season 2 of Better Call Saul, Gilligan did it again. The episode titles of Season 2 were "Switch," "Cobbler," "Amarillo," "Gloves Off," "Rebecca," "Bali H'ai," "Inflatable," "Fifi," "Nailed" and "Klick." Some maverick renegade on the internet decided to mix around the first letters of these titles, and found the anagram "Frings Back" (granted, there should be an apostrophe in there, but one would be hard pressed to title an episode starting with an apostrophe). This clever wordplay has officially been confirmed, as has the inclusion of actor Giancarlo Esposito as Fring in Season 3. Obviously, Fring's return was teased in the finale of Season 2, thought it was left somewhat ambiguous.
Fring didn't want Mike killing Hector Salamanca, for reasons we'll get into later. But, rejoice, Gus fans! He's coming back! Here are four reasons that you should be salivating like a dog with the ringing of the (Salamanca) bell for Gus in Better Call Saul Season 3.
1. We Will Witness The Genesis Of Gus And Mike's Professional Relationship
OK, I can't promise that, but it certainly makes sense that it would be included. During the course of Breaking Bad, we learn that Saul "knows a guy who knows a guy." Those guys are Mike Ehrmantraut and Gus Fring, respectively. When we met Mike and Gus in Breaking Bad, they'd already been working together for awhile.
Who doesn't love Mike? A cantankerous old badass who works both as a "cleaner" for Saul (cleaning up after Jane’s death in Season 2 of Breaking Bad), and as consigliere to Gus throughout most of the series. It will be fascinating to see Mike continue his fall from not wanting to kill people (in Saul), to embracing his killer instincts and becoming Gus’s right-hand man (in Breaking Bad). Mike serves as a security officer for Gus's chicken restaurant, Los Pollos Hermanos, as well as his crystal meth empire. I know I am champing at the bit to see that first meeting.
2. Further Backstory On Gus And His Partner Max Arciniega
Who can forget the episode "Hermanos" (Spanish for "brothers"), the eighth episode of Breaking Bad's fourth season? It opens with a flashback where Gus and his partner Max, are pitching their chicken restaurant, as well as their meth business, to the Jaurez Cartel. Don Eladio decides that it is not a venture he is interested in, and a younger (and ambulatory) Hector Salamanca executes Max, leaving Gus to crumple to the ground in agony, rage, and grief.
The nature of the relationship between Gus and Max is left purposefully ambiguous, but I would argue that it was more than just a friendship or work relationship. I think it was a romance, given how completely destroyed Gus was at Max's death. Over the course of Breaking Bad, we learn that Gus has a wife and children, but we never see them, suggesting that they are a smokescreen, hiding his homosexual lifestyle. Fleshing out the relationship between Gus and Max would only intensify the impact of Gus's revenge when he brings the reckoning on the cartel.
3. Every Character From Breaking Bad Has Been Portrayed Beautifully On Better Call Saul
There have been a few Breaking Bad characters that have had their own cameos on Better Call Saul, and, as a testament to the writers and showrunners (Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould), none of them ever felt shoehorned in. They always came off as organic inclusions, meant to bolster the story, rather than to provide easy winks and nods.
Mike Ehrmantraut: is perhaps fleshed out even more fully in Saul than he was in Breaking Bad. Unlike the latter, where he is simply just a badass, in the former, we see him as a completely conflicted man, dealing with the death of his son, and his own role in it. He wants nothing more than to take care of his daughter-in-law, and his granddaughter. This speech is more heartbreaking than anything we saw from Mike in Breaking Bad and pretty much the only time we've ever seen Mike vulnerable.
Ken: You may remember Ken as the obnoxious stock broker douche whose car Walter White set fire after witnessing Ken being his douchy self at both a credit union, and a gas station. In Better Call Saul, Jimmy (Saul) and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) trick Ken into buying them ridiculously expensive tequila. Nice touch.
Lawson: You don't know this guy's name. Neither did I. He only shows up a couple times during Breaking Bad to sell Walt guns (first a pistol, and then the M60 Walt uses in the finale). While he isn't given any kind of backstory in Saul, he is a familiar face, and is treated as a blink-and-you-missed-it cameo. Still, his inclusion is not gratuitous; it feels as natural as all the others.
Krazy-8: He has a fairly small role in Saul, but it's a good one. We see him giving a cash drop to Tuco (more on Tuco shortly) and Nacho. What I love about this Krazy-8 is that he's a far cry from the one we know from Season 1 of Breaking Bad. He's young, he's scared. He's not the manipulative gangster we remember.
Tuco Salamanca: We got to see a much more relaxed Tuco. Sure, he's still incredibly intense, but he's not the meth-addicted psycho clown that we know and fear. This is what I love about these teases of Breaking Bad characters. Saul sets up character arcs for them where we can see the beginnings of their personas that we know from Breaking Bad, but they aren't quite their extreme selves yet; they are villains in the making.
Hector "Tio" Salamanca: He walks! Better Call Saul reminds us of a younger (but not quite as young as he was in the Breaking Bad flashbacks) Hector Salamanca. He can speak without the aid of a bell, and he's a bad dude. In the Season 2 finale of Saul, Mike was ready to execute him, until he found that note on the car, reading only "don't." We are left to assume that the note was left by Gus, who wants the kill in revenge for the execution of Max Arciniega.
My point here is that the characters from Breaking Bad do not seem forced into Better Call Saul. There is a good reason for their inclusion, and their characters make perfect sense within the context. This attention to character and detail make me completely confident that when Gus gets included in Saul, it won't be for fan service, but will, in fact, serve the narrative.
4. Gus Fring Is A Badass In Every Way
Gus is one of my favorite villains in television history. He's calculating, he's calm, he's always in control. Even when he dies, he does it on his own terms, straightening his tie, in an act of professionalism, before collapsing to the ground.
The Saul Season 2 finale sets up the character of Gus as having an axe to grind, even though it's a long game, and I can't wait to see him grind it. There is no official release date yet for Better Call Saul Season 3, but it's fair to assume it'll drop in January of next year. Until then, "Say my name!" (It's Court. You don't actually have to say it).
Go back to the start of Breaking Bad and that first cook in the video below:
Are you excited for the new season? What do you want to see from Gus? Hit the comments below and let's discuss! Follow me on twitter @courtshake