With only two Better Call Saul episodes remaining, the show has made the interesting decision to fill in some blanks by jumping back and forth across timelines. We left the Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) Timeline with some pressing questions, like what happened to Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) after she split with Jimmy, and how his descent into Saul Goodman went down. Instead of giving us those answers, The Better Call Saul “Breaking Bad” episode (a confusing but appropriate name) did indeed take us back to Breaking Bad-era Saul, giving us an expanded look at his first encounters with Albuquerque’s own Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), as well as keeping us updated with current day Gene’s poor decision making skills.
It’s not been a question of “if” but rather “when” we would see Walter and Jesse again, after co-creator Peter Gould teased their appearance just as Better Call Saul Season 6 began airing. The “when” was a particularly big question, since it meant that we would be going back to a show that finished nine years ago but potentially revealing something new about what we thought was the truth. What ended up happening was a flashback to Walter and Jesse first meeting Saul, when they kidnapped him and brought him to the desert. Showing more of the scene – especially from Saul’s point of view – gave us fresh insight into the partnership that would be all three men’s downfall and provided more context for the thing that plagues Jimmy/Saul/Gene to this very day.
First Place: Kim Wexler
It may seem strange to rank someone who isn’t in the episode in first place. However, due to Gene’s brief, one-sided phone conversation, we have our first post Breaking Bad Kim Wexler update. When Gene calls Francesca (on November 12th at 3 p.m, an answer to a seasons-long mystery) to check on the heat back in Albuquerque, he hears about Kim. It turns out that after quitting the law and her marriage, Kim ended up in Florida working at an irrigation company called Palm Coast Sprinklers. The when and why of her being there is still a mystery.
Of course Gene calls Kim at work. While we don’t hear what she says to him (and barely hear what Gene says to her), we sure see his furious response. Kim being far away from Gene, both literally and figuratively, is probably for the best, as she is able to (fingers crossed) stay in control of her own life. But as we see Gene fall back into his own inescapable cycles of self-destruction, the question is whether Kim lacks the same self-control when away from Jimmy’s influence.
Second Place: Francesca Liddy
Once again, Francesca (Tina Parker) makes sure she gets her money. I can only imagine how aggressively stressful her years of loyal service to Jimmy/Saul have been; now she’s got cops trailing her and still questioning her about her motives and experience with Saul. In order to make Francesca’s continued silence worth her time, Jimmy has left her piles of cash and arranged for her to get it as part of their deal to talk on November 12th at 3 p.m. Francesca also seems to have a great side hustle as a landlord, which isn’t necessarily morally great, but maybe being the secretary to an extremely crooked lawyer isn’t either.
Third Place: Gene Takavic
It seems Gene just can’t help himself. Throughout all of Better Call Saul, we’ve watched countless people in Jimmy’s orbit believe him to be fundamentally messed up and incapable of change. Jimmy, especially in the early days of his becoming Saul Goodman, seemed to believe that he could the character on and off. One day he could be the successful, law-abiding citizen he wanted to be; the next, he could scam anyone who crossed him. One potential thesis of the entire show is the idea that no matter how much a person tries to claw out of it, their fate is inescapable. In The Better Call Saul “Breaking Bad” episode, we see Gene bring that idea to life. As hard as he’s tried to stay law-abiding and remain undercover, he can’t help but return to his old ways.
Gene had already pulled off one scheme with Jeff, but, after his painful conversation with Kim, he goes full scam ahead. Something almost always sets Jimmy off before he begins his cons – typically, it’s issues with Kim, Chuck (Michael McKean), or Howard (Patrick Fabian). And things are no different this time. Gene utilizes his taxi connections to get a bunch of rich guys drunk before using Jeff’s friend Buddy to break into their houses and photograph their identities, financial information, and all-important passwords. It’s heartbreaking to watch Gene descend back into the darkness after being rejected by Kim, especially when he’s causing his own downfall.
Fourth Place: Jeff
Jeff (Pat Healy) certainly isn’t doing well. But he isn’t the worst off! He’s making money helping out Gene with his scams; yes, he could always get caught, but with “Breaking Bad” it looks like Gene is the one taking most of the risk. In theory at least, Jeff could simply stop participating in the scams or interacting with Gene in any way, and, as long as he doesn’t snitch to the authorities about Gene’s true identity, he’ll be safe.
Sixth Place: Marion
Marion (Carol Burnett) may be happy with the internet’s unlimited supply of cat videos, but we’ve seen Jimmy/Gene’s history with the elderly. After the way he brushed her off in the “Breaking Bad” episode, Marion might be due for some more sadness pretty soon.
Seventh Place: Gene’s Cancer Patient Scam Victim
What could be worse than having cancer and getting ripped off by Slippin’ Gene? We see Gene get close to an unnamed cancer-stricken businessman (Kevin Sussman) in order to continue his ongoing scam, but, after several missteps, Gene has to go to the man’s himself and literally break in. This is how “Breaking Bad” ends, so we don’t know what will happen next…but it sure can’t culminate with anything resembling a happy ending. The teaser for next week shows cop cars with sirens on. Even if Gene’s victim doesn’t get robbed, he will end up entangled in the crosshairs.
Eighth Place: Walter White and Jesse Pinkman
Seeing as they only appear in Better Call Saul‘s “Breaking Bad” episode in flashbacks because of their, well, unfortunate fates, it’s fair to say they’ve earned this week’s last-place ranking.