Filling in the Gaps: How ‘Better Call Saul’ Informs ‘Breaking Bad’

Alice Willis What's on Netflix Avatar

If you’re like me, you’ve watched Breaking Bad a couple of times and enjoyed it so much that a new series is something you can only dream of.

Well, that dream came true. When Better Call Saul hit Netflix, there’s no doubt that it was a real winner. The show is set before Breaking Bad, so not all of the characters we know are in the story yet. It’s weird seeing some of the same characters evolve into the people they became. Their backstories, their professions, and their personalities delve into one pool of interesting beginnings. Obviously, the main question of the series is: When does Jimmy McGill become Saul Goodman? Well, it seems we did finally find out. Almost.

For those of you who haven’t seen either of these two brilliant shows, you’re missing out. Breaking Bad is about an over-qualified Chemistry teacher called Walter White who is diagnosed with lung cancer. That’s some pretty tough stuff to deal with, right? In an attempt to make money for his family, he gets together with a former student of his, Jesse Pinkman, and cooks meth. Walt has the brains and the ability to perfect the product and Jesse holds the key to the almighty dollar. Desperate times call for desperate measures. So, how on earth does this make such a brilliant series? Well, Walt changes as a man. He becomes dark and fearless and that’s what makes it so brilliant because he faces some of the biggest and worst men in the industry.

You may be thinking: How does Saul Goodman come into this equation? Saul is a lawyer. A pretty dodgy one, too. In Breaking Bad he helps the pair with their money and keeps them out of prison. However, we find out that Saul Goodman used to be called Jimmy McGill. And that’s where Better Call Saul comes into play. We find out how he became the lawyer he is. Trust me, it’s good. These are two of the best shows out there and they’re both on Netflix. In fact, Better Call Saul is a Netflix Original – it’s bound to be awesome.

So, what do we learn about the characters past in Better Call Saul that we didn’t in Breaking Bad?

Gus Wasn’t Always in Power

Season three welcomes Gustavo Fring to the mix which, if you’ve seen Breaking Bad, you’ll know he’s a big deal. It’s interesting to see him in a state of uprising. He doesn’t have all of his power, he’s working his way up. He’s not the leader, he’s a follower. Gus has a timid side but he always does whatever it takes to stay alive and to stay in his position. He cares about his employees and those close to him and that’s evident in both shows however, in Better Call Saul he isn’t in charge. He’s not in any way weak as this might seem but he’s not as powerful as you’d expect if you’ve seen his ruthless actions in Breaking Bad. Not yet.

Jimmy Has Family Problems

One of the main aspects of Better Call Saul is the relationship between Jimmy and his brother, Chuck. They’ve had a difference in opinion for a long time and Chuck gradually tries to edge Jimmy out of the law. Chuck suffers from a case hypersensitivity to electromagnetism, which isn’t something that’s been fully diagnosed because it’s possible it’s all in his head. Through the rough patches between these two brothers, Jimmy still cares for Chuck and looks after him when nobody else would bother. Season three of the show left on a cliff-hanger – Chuck must be dead, right? Perhaps all of the chaos and betrayal between the two is one of the causes for Jimmy’s dodgy law activities. Chuck is definitely someone we didn’t know about in Breaking Bad.

Better Call Saul Season 3 Netflix Release Date

Hector’s Health Conditions & Standing in the Cartel

In Breaking Bad we only see Hector Salamanca in a wheelchair (excluding flashbacks) and it’s one of those storylines you wish you knew more about. In Better Call Saul it starts to piece together as we find out about Hector’s heart condition. Not everyone is his friend. Not even those closest to him. He seems like one of those characters who thinks he has more power than he actually does. Hector believes he has a say in the Cartel’s actions but really he’s being told what to do. We’re getting closer to finding out how he ended up in the wheelchair, so perhaps another season will show us the full story.

Jimmy’s Moral Spectrum

There’s something very loveable about Jimmy. He always tries to do what’s best and abide by the law, as that’s the one thing he loves in his life. It never works out the way he first planned and that’s when the dodgy dealings come in. He’s a sweet-talker, a persuasive conman and a bloody good liar. His moral spectrum is not fixed. It changes according to what he has to do to get things done. That’s mostly shown in the series when he turns a group of elderly ladies against their friend just to try to get money. In fairness, Jimmy does own up to his fault which shows he still has a soft spot for the elderly. However, he will stop at nothing to get ahead.

Mike’s Connection with Gustavo

In Breaking Bad we know that Mike is in business with Gus. He does as he’s told and he’s a great spy. Mike knows his stuff. Especially his guns. However, in Better Call Saul we learn that he didn’t want to be in business with Gus. Mike is an incredibly pensive, clever and careful man but season three shows him take a risk to get back at an enemy. Just as we didn’t think Gus was much of a badass yet, Mike encounters him as the dark and fierce man we know he is. Gus refused to let Mike kill Hector because “a bullet to the head would have been far too humane”. So I guess they bond over the hatred of one man.

Unfortunately, Better Call Saul has to end sometime. Due to it happening before Breaking Bad, there’s obviously a strict deadline. That does pose the question of whether we’re going to get to see Walt and Jesse appear in at least one episode. Seeing some of the characters in such a raw state in the Better Call Saul certainly proves for an intriguing watch, especially if you’ve seen Breaking Bad and know the people that they become.

Here’s what we’ve been wanting to know: The name Saul Goodman is derived from the phrase ‘S’all Good Man’. Perhaps not what we were expecting but rather light-hearted, which makes it even better.

In case you were worried we wouldn’t get to finish the adventure, fear not! Better Call Saul was renewed by AMC. We’ll see Jimmy McGill’s transformation into Saul Goodman sometime in 2018.

Written by

Alice Willis gained her degree in creative writing with journalism at Kingston University Alice and is our United Kingdom Netflix expert. Alice covers the weekly new additions for the UK region while also contributing to our top lists section. Alice loves new shows and movies, particularly rom-coms and teen dramas. Alice resides in Maidstone, UK.