With the planned reintroduction of Gustavo Fring into the Better Call Saul universe, we’re inevitably left to pine for the days when Walter White and Jesse Pinkman were inexperienced pawns in the dangerous methamphetamine world in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
While Better Call Saul certainly holds its own as a show thanks to outstanding performances by the likes of Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn and Michael McKean, show co-creators, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, have never shied away from making sly references to Breaking Bad.
“We love rewarding the audience that pays strict, close attention…We love little Easter eggs,” Gilligan told the Hollywood Reporter. “We’re making the show for an audience that’s paying attention,” Gould added.
With season 3 of Better Call Saul set to premiere this evening – promising that “things get quite a bit darker in season three, more Breaking Bad-like” – we’ve picked out the best Breaking Bad callbacks/Easter eggs from the first two seasons.
While a tweet by actor, Giancarlo Esposito, confirmed that Breaking Bad villain, Gustavo Fring, would be appearing in future episodes of Better Call Saul, show creators actually provided clues during season 2.
One of the biggest cliffhangers of last season was who left the note on Mike’s car windshield instructing him not to kill Hector Salamanca. As it turns out, Gilligan and Gould basically left a trail of breadcrumbs in the form of the episode titles.
When episode titles, “Fifi,” “Rebecca,” “Inflatable,” “Nailed,” “Gloves Off,” “Switch.” “Bali Hai,” “Amarillo,” “Cobbler,” and “Klick” were rearranged to form an anagram, they spell out, “FRING’S BACK.”
“We had this—to us—this very bright idea of encoding the words ‘Fring’s Back’ in the episode titles,” said co-creator, Peter Gould. “We worked very hard; more than that, the folks in our office, Jenn Carroll and Ariel Levine, worked very, very hard trying to help us figure that out. And we thought we’d be revealing it maybe sometime over the summer. I guess we really underestimated the genius and hard work of our fans.”
In the last scene with Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, he’s been pushed to the edge and knows that if he doesn’t get out of town right now, he’s a dead man.
“If I’m lucky, a month from now, best case scenario, I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha, Nebraska.”
When Better Call Saul begins, we see that this prediction by Saul has indeed come true.
One of the more underrated aspects of the show is when we get to see Jimmy revert back to his “Slipping’ Jimmy” days.
As a master huckster and manipulator, his relationship with Kim is actually strengthened when he lets her get a glimpse of his disingenuous ways.
Specifically, Jimmy and Kim pose as brother and sister looking to invest their million dollar inheritance. With a slippery fish on the line, they manage to polish off a bottle of the Zafiro Añejo tequila where a single shot was $50 USD before ultimately skipping out on the bill.
This was the same brand of tequila that Gus used to poison Don Eladio Vuente and other members of the Juarez Cartel in the season four episode of Breaking Bad, “Salud.”
6353 Juan Tabo Blvd
Aside from Walter White’s home address, 308 Negra Arroyo Lane, Gale Boetticher’s own home, 6353 Juan Tabo Blvd, is the most important in Breaking Bad history.
Photos of Jimmy McGill’s promotional matches for his law practice and a close up of a $700 USD check he received as payment for services rendered show that Jimmy and Gale actually lived on the same street.
Casa Tranquila goes down in Breaking Bad lore as the location where ultimately both Walter White and Hector Salamanca get revenge on Gustavo Fring – resulting in one of the most brutal TV deaths in recent memory.
For keen-eyed Better Call Saul viewers, this was one of the nursing homes that Jimmy visited while drumming up his will-writing business for people in their twilight years.
In episode 3 “Nacho” during the first season of Better Call Saul, Jimmy makes a frantic call at a payphone where you can clearly make out the tag, “JPi.”
Aside from it fitting Jesse Pinkman’s initials, it can also be seen clearly inside Jesse’s house.
In Season 3 of Breaking Bad – when Saul and Walt are considering whether Walt should purchase the carwash or the laser tag franchise to launder his money, Saul uses a story about pretending to be Kevin Costner as a means to illustrate that people will believe whatever you tell them as long as you sell them hard enough on it.
In Better Call Saul, we get proof that Jimmy McGill did indeed use that exact story.
When the woman he slept with calls him on his bullshit, “You are not Kevin Costner,” McGill sheepishly says, “I was last night.”
Jimmy McGill makes a reference to Belize while hosting bingo for a group of senior citizens, saying, “Beautiful place. So I’ve heard. I would love to go there but let’s face it, that’s never going to happen.”
In Breaking Bad, Belize was a symbol of killing someone.
As Walter White’s brother in law becomes more of a nuisance, Goodman says in the episode “Buried,” that White should send Hank to Belize.
“You know, where Mike went” – referencing how Walt had gotten rid of another person standing in their way.
In the second season of Better Call Saul, Mike visits a gun dealer, Lawson, whom he considers purchasing an M40 rifle from – the same rifle used by Marine snipers since 1966 – in order to take out Tuco Salamanca. Ultimately, Mike declines.
In the series finale of Breaking Bad, Walter White purchases the machine gun/robot hybrid that would ultimately free Jesse Pinkman from his sadistic, neo-Nazi captors. Previously, White had also purchased a .38 snub-nose revolver from the same man when he feared that Mike and Gus were going to take him out.
The pink pig
Since the events of Better Call Saul happen several years before the events of Breaking Bad, we get a glimpse of what Mike Ehrmantraut’s life was like in the aftermath of his disappearance from Philadelphia after killing two cops responsible for his son’s death.
What’s very clear from the outset is his love and devotion to his granddaughter, Kaylee, with whom he gifts a pink pig in the episode “Amarillo.”
This same pig was used as a decoy in the fifth season of Breaking Bad in “Madrigal” when Chris Mara – one of Mike’s former henchmen – sets a trap for him, only to be outdone by the same pink pig that distracts him through the peephole and gives Mike enough time to sneak through the back door, find out that Lydia put this plan into motion, and ultimately murder Chris.
- Images: AMC