Better Call Saul season four episode five opened with perhaps its most exciting scene yet for Breaking Bad fans: a flash-forward showing Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman frantically shredding all of his documents, and vacating his seedy law office.
That’s right – a Better Call Saul scene set during the Breaking Bad era.
The sequence, which kicks off season four episode Quite A Ride, takes place sometime between Ozymandias and Granite State, the period in which Walter White’s meth empire came crashing down, and took Saul with it.
It shows Saul – real name Jimmy McGill – and his assistant Francesca (Tina Parker) cleansing the law office (its columns are a familiar sight for Breaking Bad fans) of evidence and preparing for their next steps.
For Francesca, this means not cooperating with the authorities; for Saul, it means calling for a ‘pick-up’ from the mysterious Cleaner (Robert Forster), the fixer who relocates both Saul and Walt in Granite State, and sets them up with new identities.
Speaking about the scene to Entertainment Weekly, Bob Odenkirk said that he was “thrilled” to reprise Saul Goodman, having spent most of the prequel series playing the hapless proto-Saul Jimmy McGill.
“Part of me — it really comes from comedy — just really wants to make the audience happy. I was satisfied and pleased at the notion of playing Saul and being back in the office and giving everybody a moment of that character that they love so much and was so entertaining to people.
“To go there for a few minutes and be that guy and give them that flavour made me really, really happy. Plus, it’s fun to play him. The truth is it’s easier to play Saul than Jimmy. It’s not as rewarding. Jimmy is a rich character with so many angles — there’s so much complexity to the guy that it’s a more rewarding character. But Saul is kind of pure fun.”
He also detailed how surreal it was for the cast and crew to head back to the most recognisable law office in all of Albuquerque.
“The giddiness that people felt,” he said, “the glee that people felt at seeing that office, everyone on set, all the crew were just ecstatic. I think it made everybody even more amazed at the story that [showrunners] Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan have told, having come out of that character, you know?
“Because the character was intriguing and fun, but he was not the most — there wasn’t a whole lot going on there. I mean, he’s just a schemer who talked fast and thought pretty fast. And outside of that, there wasn’t much else. And I think now that we know this guy, to go into that office and see him in that version of himself — such a thinned-out version of who he is inside — you can’t help but smile, because you know a secret that he doesn’t know. You know who he is, and you’re like, ‘Wow, dude. You really went down! You really came way down on the scale of human value.’”
Although Better Call Saul has played around with flash-forwards before (each series typically opens with a black and white sequence following a post-Breaking Bad Saul, now going by the name of Gene), this was the first time that the prequel has showed a scene set during the original series.
All of which suggests that, as Better Call Saul moves closer and closer to the day when Jimmy McGill finally becomes his legal alter-go Saul Goodman, that the show’s Breaking Bad connections are beginning to strengthen. Jesse Pinkman cameo anyone? Or even… Walter White?
Better Call Saul series four airs in the UK on Netflix, with new episodes added each Tuesday