[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Better Call Saul, Season 6 Episode 11, “Breaking Bad.”]
On April 26th, 2009, a television show called Breaking Bad aired an episode called “Better Call Saul.” Thirteen years later, a television show called Better Call Saul aired an episode called “Breaking Bad.” Here we are at a full-circle moment for one of television’s great creative achievements, and yet the significance of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul’s long-promised return as the iconic Walter White and Jesse Pinkman manages not to overshadow the action just now revving up in Omaha, Nebraska.
The elegance of this new episode’s name choice, which is split between two very different periods of time for one Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman/Gene Takovic (Bob Odenkirk), cannot be overstated, especially because of how this episode is in part a companion piece to Breaking Bad Season 2 Episode 8. What that really means is that while the bulk of the episode remains in black-and-white, we return to the world of vibrant color for several flashback scenes, filling in the gaps around Saul’s initial introduction into this narrative.
In case it’s been a while: In the Breaking Bad episode “Better Call Saul,” Saul gets hired to help spring Badger, one of Jesse and Walt’s dealers, after Badger gets arrested. When Saul refuses a bribe to keep Badger from confessing, Walt and Jesse kidnap Saul to attempt to pressure him into keeping Badger’s mouth shut — but Saul flips the script on them, instead offering his legal services for their less-than-legal operation.
In the Better Call Saul episode “Breaking Bad,” we get to see more of Saul’s late-night abduction by Jesse and Walt, including a healthy dose of the bickering-married-couple act that made that pair so fun during the original show’s run. Saul’s now-infamous “Lalo didn’t send you? No Lalo?” speech also gets a little extra context (given what we now know about the fates of both characters to which he was referring). In addition, the episode gives us a refreshing burst of Mike (Jonathan Banks), even more surly and snarky now, after years of working with Saul Goodman.
While there are still two episodes left, this might be the only episode of Saul to end up featuring Cranston and Paul (though with this franchise, literally anything feels possible). No matter what, the ease with which both actors slip back into their respective roles is staggering; Cranston in particular captures every nuance of Walter’s hunched physicality as if Season 2 of Breaking Bad were yesterday.
But even with those flashbacks, Better Call Saul‘s present-day storyline still remains captivating. In cold grayscale Omaha, Gene makes contact with his former secretary Francesca (Tina Parker) back in Albuquerque, and we get a huge burst of information that we may or may not have already known (largely depending on if we saw El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story and/or were paying attention during the final episodes of Breaking Bad): Walter White is definitely dead, Skyler White took a deal, and Jesse made his escape — though it’s thought he fled to Mexico, as arranged by Badger and Skinny Pete in El Camino.
Also, former Saul associate Kuby (Bill Burr) is in the wind, while Huell (Lavell Crawford) went back to New Orleans after being held by the DEA under false pretenses. Jimmy’s old nemesis in the D.A.’s office, Bill Oakley (Peter Diseth), is now a defense attorney, and as for Kim (Rhea Seehorn)…
Well, after the tsunami that was Walter White happened, Francesca reveals, Kim at least asked her about the fate of the former Mr. Wexler, and that leads Gene to make a call he’s probably been wanting to make for years. Thanks to some help from the phone company and a bunch of quarters, he gets connected to Kim’s current workplace: Palm Coast Sprinklers, located in Titusville, Florida.