Finally, the 'Better Call Saul' and 'Breaking Bad' Timelines Have Merged

·12 min read
Photo credit: Men's Health Illustration/Jason Speakman/AMC
Photo credit: Men's Health Illustration/Jason Speakman/AMC

Ever since AMC announced a spinoff series centered on Breaking Bad's grifter of a lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), two and a half weeks before Breaking Bad's final episode aired in September 2013, we've all been waiting to see when and how the Better Call Saul timeline will mix with the Breaking Bad timeline. Better Call Saul co-creator Peter Gould already confirmed America's favorite meth lab coworkers, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), would be reprising their Breaking Bad roles this season. So, after five remarkable seasons, the pair make their debuts, but the timelines merge thanks to characters you may have forgotten.

In Better Call Saul, the Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad starts as a duplicitous lawyer with a heart of gold known as Jimmy McGill. He becomes Saul Goodman as a way to escape the smothering shadow of his deceased brother and esteemed lawyer Charles McGill (Michael McKean). He dates and then (strategically) marries fellow lawyer Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), who is arguably the most intriguing character in the entire show. Unfortunately, his crooked road to becoming a lawyer is a treacherous one that leads him to do the Mexican cartel's bidding, whether that means bringing bail money from the desert or bending the law to free nefarious criminals.

Photo credit: AMC
Photo credit: AMC

Gould told Entertainment Weekly, "I don't think you're going to look at Breaking Bad the same way again after you've seen this whole season." We've seen it all in Better Call Saul, but now it's time to see how it finds its way into the Breaking Bad timeline that created it.

What Happens To Kim Wexler In The Breaking Bad Timeline?

Ever since she came into our lives with her slick back ponytail, piercing blue eyes, and deceptively robotic regularity of doing everything right, fans have been deeply invested in what happens to Kim. At the Tribeca Film Festival screening of the Season 6 midseason premiere episode "Point and Shoot," Better Call Saul's cryptic co-creator Peter Gould explained why there would be no ambiguity with Kim's fate.

“These people live in a very dangerous world, and Kim’s a super complicated person. We have a lot of territory to cover in the next few episodes. I will say her fate is not completely ambiguous."

He may have been intentionally vague, but he wasn't lying. Two episodes later, in the episode "Fun and Games," after Saul and Kim try to live normal lives after watching Lalo kill Howard in front of them and then forcing Kim to attempt an assassination on Gus, Kim rescinds her law license, packs her stuff, and leaves Saul. Kim no longer could use her skills at fact manipulation and stonefaced deception to cover up after lying in the face of Howard's widow about him being a drug addict as an explanation for his death. But more importantly, she leaves Saul because the two of them together are "poison." To seemingly cement Kim's removal from Better Call Saul, the episode ends with Saul sitting in the office we first were introduced to in Breaking Bad. And that's just the beginning.

Photo credit: AMC
Photo credit: AMC

In two of the last three episodes — "Breaking Bad" and "Waterworks"— we find out Kim left the perpetual specter of murder and duplicity that followed her in Alberquerque for the slow-paced life of Titusville, Florida. She replaced the rush for hatching illicit schemes with Saul with making tuna sandwiches with Miracle Whip because of her boring new boyfriend Glen's (Alvin Cowan) loyalty to the out-of-stock Duke's Mayonnaise. That is until she gets her first call from Saul since they split six years earlier, looking to catch up and gloat about his years of arrest evasion before Kim's conscience inspires her to advise Saul to turn himself in to the police. To her visible surprise, all these years haven't chipped away at the hardened criminal shell of Saul Goodman that encases the kind-hearted Jimmy McGill she fell in love with when Saul berates her and retorts how she should, in fact, turn herself in for her past misdeeds. Little did he know, he gave Kim the answer to the silent torment she'd been living with since leaving him and could spell the end of his freedom.

With the confidence of a woman tired of living a past lie that continues to consume her present, she flies back to Albuquerque to submit a written confession of how Howard Hamlin really died and her involvement to the Bernalillo County district attorney's office. What she does next is arguably her most selfless act of the entire Better Call Saul series. She visits Howard's grieving widow Cheryl Hamlin (Sandrine Holt) and presents her with the same confession to give her some sense of closure even though she knows Cheryl could sue her for everything she's worth in civil court. As she rides the airport shuttle bus to catch her flight back to her new life in Florida, Kim lets out an impassioned cry atypical of a woman who has shielded her tears in logic. At that moment, the Kim Wexler we once knew effectively drowned in the cleansing sorrow of a woman finally unburdened by a past she couldn't keep running away from.

Photo credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television - AMC
Photo credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television - AMC

Before Kim's confessional episode, the Season 6 premiere set the stage for her to have an influence on Breaking Bad. Given the fact Kim was the last one with the bottle stopper in Better Call Saul, and it appears to fall out of a desk of Saul Goodman's from the Breaking Bad timeline, it's safe to assume the bottle stopper is at the very least a memento from Saul's time with Kim in Better Call Saul. But that was just the beginning.

In the Season 6 premiere, Saul tells Kim he rented an unspectacular brown Ford Taurus. Kim's reaction is less than impressed, and she suggests if Jimmy McGill is going full-on with this Saul Goodman character, he needs to do it up big. To her, Saul Goodman drives an American-made car with a little more flair. That sounds like the Cadillac DeVille he drives around in Breaking Bad, which was being taken away at the beginning of the Season 6 premiere. If Season 6 confirmed anything, Kim Wexler may have never directly inserted herself in the Breaking Bad timeline, but her impact was felt in ways we could have never known without Better Call Saul.

How Did Jeff From Better Call Saul Help Bring Breaking Bad's Walter White Into The Better Call Saul Timeline?

Better Call Saul's story is split between two timelines: pre-Breaking Bad and post-Breaking Bad. The latter timeline is Saul's life after he is relocated from Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the end of Breaking Bad. In that future timeline, he's a Cinnabon employee named Gene Takovic living in Omaha, Nebraska. Seeing how the vast majority of Better Call Saul is set before the events of Breaking Bad, Saul has no idea who Walt and Jesse are, so they aren't mentioned by name in the main Better Call Saul timeline. But, in the fourth-to-last episode of the Better Call Saul series, Saul's Breaking Bad life is briefly discussed thanks to a nosy cab driver named Jeff (Pat Healy).

Photo credit: AMC
Photo credit: AMC

It's Jeff who approaches Gene in the Season Five premiere "Magic Man" with a threat wrapped in a smile as he forces the disguised disgraced lawyer to admit he's, in fact, Saul Goodman. Gene's story is only told in Better Call Saul but is a result of the Breaking Bad timeline. Saul Goodman's story is told in both series. So, Jeff making Gene admit he's Saul is the first time the character created in Better Call Saul and fully realized in Breaking Bad is mentioned in the post-Breaking Bad timeline.

In the recent Season 6 episode "Nippy," Gene is trying to wiggle his way out of this predicament by tapping into the social engineering trickery that made Slipping Jimmy a litigation nightmare. He entices Jeff into an intricate scheme to rob the mall, surreptitiously entrapping him in illegal activities he can blackmail him with. To assuage Jeff's jitters about the caper being crazy by letting him know how he's accomplished crazy feats about the fifty-year-old high school chemistry teacher with a "pile of cash as big as a Volkswagen” thanks to his help. And just like that, Walter White entered Better Call Saul.

How Else Have The Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad Timelines Merged?

If you were able to wipe enough of the tears away from your eyes to watch the penultimate episode, "Waterworks," you saw how Kim not only made it into the post-Breaking Bad timeline as a mild m mannered Floridian cubicle worker but actually was in the pre-Breaking Bad world. During the episode, Kim pensively signs the divorce papers in Saul's Breaking Bad law office as her con man ex-husband feigns indifference at the loss of the only woman who loved him. As she walks out of his office, the first client he brings in is Emilio Koyama (John Koyama), Jesse's original meth-dealing partner who dies in Breaking Bad's pilot episode.

Moments later, when a dejected Kim runs into Jesse Pinkman outside of Saul's offices waiting for Emilio, we learn he's known about Kim Wexler the entire time he was in Breaking Bad. Jesse informed Kim he knows she's a lawyer because she helped get his friend and drug dealing companion Christian "Combo" Ortega (Rodney Rush) out of trouble after he stole a baby Jesus figurine. When Jesse asks her expert opinion of if Saul is any good as a lawyer, Kim sardonically answers, "When I knew him, he was." We know Jesse ended up trusting Saul to be his and Walt's lawyer because of how he got Emilio out of trouble twice when there was a mountain of evidence against him. But, one could imagine he mistook Kim's denouncement of the man Saul has become as an endorsement of him being a good lawyer ever since she knew him.

Earlier in the season, we find out El Polo Loco boss and criminal mastermind Gus Fring's archnemesis Lalo Salamanca and Saul's frequent frenemy Howard Hamlin were both buried in the construction site for the mega lab Gus used in Breaking Bad to cook up tons of meth to sell across New Mexico. Their burial also confirms these two Better Call Saul mainstays were in Breaking Bad right under our noses (and Walt and Jesse's feet) the entire time.

The hints of the two shows' timelines merging first appeared in Better Call Saul's final season premiere. For the first five minutes of the premiere episode, we're greeted by movers emptying what appears to be a palatial estate once owned by Saul. They clean out his massive bathroom equipped with golden shower walls and an obscene golden toilet, load his 1997 Cadillac DeVille made famous in Breaking Bad on the back of a truck to be taken away, and removes every piece of furniture not nailed down. While Saul scored a hefty payday from being a "friend of the cartel" at the end of Season 5, the luxury on display in this opening scene is likely outside the price range of a man who once had a law office in the back of a nail salon in Better Call Saul. But, it's more in line with the price range of a man who had wads of cash stashed in a ceiling in case of an emergency like Saul did when he was ready to skip town with a new identity near the end of the Breaking Bad timeline. We see him retrieve this money from the Breaking Bad timeline in the fourth episode of Better Call Saul's fifth season, entitled "Quite A Ride," the last Better Call Saul scene we see set in the Breaking Bad timeline.

But, in the Season 6 premiere, it's what the movers don't take that truly unites the Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul timelines.

Photo credit: AMC
Photo credit: AMC

As they're loading a dresser drawer into the back of the moving truck, a Zafiro Anejo tequila bottle stopper tumbles out. The camera slowly zooms in, signifying this is a significant development and that it isn't just any tequila bottle stopper. It's appeared in both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad. In Better Call Saul, the bottle stopper of the fictitious tequila brand has appeared in a few of Kim and Jimmy's playful cons they would run on unsuspecting fools. It most poignantly appears on the show in episode 9 of the show's fifth season, entitled "Bad Choice Road," when Kim quits her cushy job as partner and head of Schweikart & Cokely's banking division but makes sure to double back to her office to retrieve the bottle stopper she kept in her desk drawer. In Breaking Bad, the bottle stopper appears less prominently yet more impactfully when Gus poisons a bottle of tequila in an effort to kill the head of the cartel who once killed his dear friend Max.

Photo credit: AMC
Photo credit: AMC

Another clue the two timelines were merging was hinted at in the Season 6 promo photo. In the photo, Saul, disguised as Gene, appears in grey while putting on a jacket colored bright red. For the entirety of Better Call Saul, glimpses into Saul's new life as Gene are depicted solely in grey, indicating it's a separate timeline from the colorized Better Call Saul timeline. The promo photo clearly shows the show is ready to merge the Breaking Bad timeline portrayed in grey with the Better Call Saul timeline bursting in color. Since Better Call Saul already introduced us to a colorized scene from the Breaking Bad timeline with the "Quite A Ride" episode, there are plenty of reasons to see how the opening scene of Season 6 follows merges the timelines.

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