AMC’s Better Call Saul
6×11: “Breaking Bad”
Directed & Written
by Thomas Schnauz
* For a recap & review of 6×10, click here.
* For a recap & review of 6×12, click here.
Saul’s in a familiar position from Breaking Bad. We find him with a hood over his head in a vehicle headed through the desert. This is a fantastic way to bring back Walter and Jesse, not revealing them until they pull the hood off Saul’s head. We see the signs before that, like the duct-taped door and some vague shots of the inside of the infamous RV. Then the hood comes off, Saul sees a grave dug in the desert… and the opening credits hit. But we already know what’s coming, and it’s so wonderful to know the two Breaking Bad stars have returned after all this time.
We go to the future again. This time it’s with Francesca. She’s trying to live her own new life, dealing with stoner tenants in an apartment building where she’s obviously the landlord, in the aftermath of the wreck Saul Goodman left behind him. She heads off in her vehicle, suspecting she’s being followed for a while but that suspicion wears off, though not entirely. She drives to a deserted gas station someplace in the desert. She waits until 3:01, then a payphone rings, but she’s not happy about it. She’s received a call from the man formerly known as Saul Goodman. He guides her to a nearby contraption leading her to a bag of cash. Francesca tells Gene that her mail gets opened, her phones are tapped, and she’s still being followed. She mentions Pinkman’s deserted car at the border and Skyler White getting a deal from the feds. So much fallout. She tells him all the hidden money is gone, taken by the feds, too. She eventually mentions someone did call her after things went to shit: Kim.
Speaking of which, where is Kim?
Well, Gene calls a sprinkler shop in Florida, where he believes Kim is working. And from what we’re able to see it doesn’t go too well, sending Gene into a rage during which he nearly obliterates a phone booth. Then it’s back to the regular boring life of Gene working at the Cinnabon in the mall. Gene/Saul/Jimmy has to compartmentalise so much about himself that it’s just wild. Later we see Gene back at Marion’s place when Jeff comes home. Mom is busy showing Gene her new laptop, searching all sorts of funny cat videos online. Jeff tries to justify his purchase to Gene while not alerting his mother about their robbery score. Then Gene abruptly heads off with Jeff to the garage, asking the latter about working night shift at the cab company. Gene wants Jeff to get on a different shift, and he also wants to get hold of barbiturates. Good lord. What does Gene have planned this time?
Gene’s not great at karaoke, but he tries his hand at “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” while his pal Alfred (Devin Ratray) laughs at the bar. Of course Alfred thinks Gene’s name is Victor. Alfred also loves to bet money on whatever he can, even silly little games at the bar. Gene/Victor is using an ingenious little pump to suck up his drinks, pretending to slam them back with Alfred, who’s getting drunker and drunker. After the bar, Alfred bets Gene/Victor for the first cab that arrives, challenging him to balance a book of matches on his hand only to light them with another book of matches, winning the cab. We already know this is part of a new Gene/Saul scheme. The driver taking Alfred in the cab is actually Jeff, who offers the drunk man a bottle of water on the ride; Buddy even plays dispatcher from his own truck to make things seem real.
When Jeff gets Alfred back home the drunk man doesn’t notice his driver place a strip of duct tape on the inside of the door to keep it open. Moments later, Buddy walks up to the house with his dog and walks right on inside thanks to the duct-taped doorjamb. Alfred’s already passed out on the couch, allowing Buddy to search him for a wallet that’s full of cash but also, more importantly, ID, credit cards, and personal info. Buddy takes photos of everything in the wallet, puts it back in Alfred’s jacket pocket, and then he takes a further look around the place, getting more photos of various financial documents and other confidential things like income tax returns. He takes a blank cheque out of Alfred’s chequebook, directly from the very back. He even gets all of Alfred’s passwords, taped on the desk underneath everything. Then, Buddy and his well-behaved dog are gone in the night like they were never there. He even remembers the duct tape.
Back to Saul at the RV. He remarks hilariously that the place reminds him of “James Whale‘s travelling roadshow.” Walt and Jesse talk to Saul after the famous scene from Breaking Bad when they put a dollar in the lawyer’s pocket to gain lawyer-client privilege. The lawyer talks to the meth producers about their operation cooking up “the blue stuff.” He’s thrilled to be meeting “Igor” and Heisenberg. Walt doesn’t care for all the talk, he’s straight to business. Soon, they’re back on the road with the lawyer. Or, they plan to be until the RV doesn’t start. We get more of Walt and Jesse’s classic bickering, alongside Saul’s irreverent commentary referencing everything from Laurel and Hardy to The Bickersons. As they wait a bit to try the engine, Jesse mentions Lalo, whom Saul made reference to when they took him, but the lawyer doesn’t want to talk about Lalo. Eventually the trio get back on the road when the engine starts. They leave behind an ominous hole in the desert, creating a great visual of Gene in the future, lying in bed, like he’s lying in a grave, yet it’s also another grim foreshadowing of the death that occurs in the desert during the final season of Breaking Bad.
Gene receives a package in the mail, one that contains an item to take him back to the days of Saul Goodman: it’s one of those weird massagers. Meanwhile, Gene and his crew keep on pulling schemes on rich drunk men, drugging water bottles, sneaking into houses, stealing IDs and credit cards and confidential info. He can’t just live a quiet, regular life. He’s addicted to all the money and the material things that come along with a criminal life. Even after he lost so much he continues to be Saul Goodman living in the skin of Gene Takovic. It all becomes just another routine echoing his old life as Saul, complete with burner phones for his criminal crew.
Gene/Victor goes on with the hot water bottle contraption to suck up his drinks while he works on rolling more rich guys at the bar. He discovers his latest mark has cancer, which obviously starts to weigh on him when he thinks of what he has planned. That doesn’t stop Gene/Victor from sending the man off in the cab with Jeff, though. Plus, not everybody with cancer is a good person; case and point, Walter White.
At the office, Saul sits on the floor using his strange massage machine when Mike turns up for a little business. They’re discussing people to “keep an eye on” as far as criminal associates go. Saul asks more about Heisenberg, hearing all about Walter’s real life, including the lung cancer. He wants to make money off a relationship with the meth producer. He thinks Heisenberg is going places from what he hears off the streets. Mike relates Walter to investing in “Betamax” years ago, calling the potential business relationship a “waste of money.”
Gene gets a call and rushes off for a meeting in Jeff’s garage, as Marion is inside watching more silly cats online. Gene, Jeff, and Buddy are having a tense talk about their current mark. Buddy feels bad about the target having cancer, refusing to rip the man off. Gene doesn’t have any sympathy and urges Buddy to “finish the job.” But Buddy won’t do it, though Gene tries to sell him with similar lines he used on Kim once. Gene sends Buddy packing and tells him not to say anything. He wants to take Jeff back to the mark’s house so they can complete the plan.
So off Gene and Jeff go to the rich cancer patient’s home.
As Gene gets out to go inside the house, we briefly cut to Saul going to visit Walter at school, dropping in unexpectedly on the chemistry teacher at work. Such great parallels here, both signalling a deeply damaged conscience in Gene/Saul, one that will never ever be repaired, and we also see just how much Walt has affected Saul over the years, too.