Welcome back to our weekly breakdown of the minutia of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s Better Call Saul. While Brian Grubb provides his always excellent coverage of the series (here’s his write-up of the most recent episode), here we will look at some of the details viewers may have missed, callbacks to Breaking Bad, references to other shows or movies, and theories on the direction the series is heading. We scour Reddit threads, Twitter, listen each week to the phenomenal Better Call Saul Insider Podcast, and attempt to curate the best intel about each episode.
In this week’s episode, we see the beginning and end of Saul Goodman.
1. Obviously, we must start with the phenomenal teaser, a flash-forward that takes us for the first time into the Breaking Bad timeline. The teaser gives us a moment with Saul Goodman in between “Ozymandias” and “Granite State,” after Jesse Pinkman punched him in the nose (hence the band-aid) and before he relocated to Omaha. Someone spliced the “Quite a Ride” scene together with the “Granite State” scene to give viewers an idea of exactly where this scene exists on the Breaking Bad timeline. Mostly, however, I appreciate how similar Saul looks in both clips, filmed five years apart.
2. The teaser itself was shot on film — like Breaking Bad — while Better Call Saul itself is typically shot digitally, which is why it has a completely different texture from the rest of the episode. If Saul is going to spend more time in the Breaking Bad era and continue to shoot on film, they’re going to have a difficult time processing it, because there aren’t many places left in Los Angeles that still process film.
3. There are two things I absolutely cannot answer from the teaser, because I have no clue. First, I don’t know if Jimmy says, “Tell him Jimmy sent ya,” to Francesca, or “Tell ’em Jimmy sent you,” although Odenkirk told THR that it was ’em,’ “just to make it harder to solve the riddle.” In either respect, it’s almost certainly not Kim, because Francesca knows Kim. If it’s a lawyer, my money is on Howard, if only because he was in this episode and, at least as far as Howard knows, he owes Jimmy because he thinks he’s responsible for Chuck’s death.
However, it may not even be a lawyer to whom Jimmy is referring. In the scene, Saul says, “When the cops come talk to you, and they will, what are you going to tell them?”
Francesca responds, “Talk to my attorney.”
Jimmy counters, holding out a card, “Tell ’em Jimmy sent ya.” That is not a card for an attorney, according to the episode’s writer, Ann Cherkis. That card is for the Disappearer. Maybe Saul is telling Francesca to tell the Disappearer, “Jimmy sent you”?
However, I have no idea what the significance is to the date that Jimmy gave Francesca: November 12th at 3 p.m.
What I do know, however, is that when Jimmy asked Francesca for the box cutter by making a stabbing motion with his hands, I laughed hysterically and then felt a pang of sadness for Victor.
4. Saul’s office has been in storage since Breaking Bad, so the production designers only had to unpack it for Saul. However, there was a lot of details that had to be refined for high-def cameras. For instance, they had to put text on the newspapers because they were blank in Breaking Bad. Also, according to the Insider podcast, the hardest thing to match was the band-aid on Saul’s nose.
5. In the very first episode of Better Call Saul, Gene — back in his place in Omaha — pulls a videotape out of a shoebox. Is that the same shoebox he pulls out of the wall in “Quite a Ride”?
6. Read into this whatever you’d like, but on the Insider podcast, they explained that the reason they wanted to do the flash-forward now was 1) because it worked well with the ending, i.e., Jimmy is not going to be what he told his PPD officer he’s going to be (and “he’s not going to have a firm with Kim”), and 2) because it needed to be done soon because if they waited much longer, it’d have less impact because they’d be too close to the Breaking Bad timeline.
7. Saul interacts with the three guys who later mug him at the same laundromat that Jesse once did a meth deal in Breaking Bad.
8. This is neither an Easter Egg nor a callback, but can we just all agree that — forget therapy — Howard just really needs a hug right now.
FYI: Next week’s episode will be directed by this guy, one of the more high-profile directors outside of Rian Johnson and Michelle MacLaren. I would expect they brought him in for a reason.