‘Better Call Saul’: 3 Things You Forgot About the Pilot Episode

Better Call Saul fans didn’t know what to expect when the show premiered in 2015. Most fans came to the Breaking Bad spinoff through the original series. They knew the prequel followed Saul Goodman, whose real name we learned is Jimmy McGill, in the years leading up to Walt and Jesse becoming meth cooks.

But no one could have predicted just how popular Better Call Saul would become. Now going into the final season, the series is just as beloved if not more than the original. It all started with the pilot episode, “Uno,” which set up the story perfectly.

The ‘Breaking Bad’ prequel begins in the future

Breaking Bad showrunner Vince Gilligan knew that he wanted to do a spinoff but also realized a sequel would deliver very little content. By the end of Breaking Bad, most of the major characters are dead, which would have made it impossible to extend a sequel across multiple seasons.

Better Call Saul is set in the past but opens in the future. Fans get a glimpse of Saul in his new life working as a Cinnabon manager in Omaha. Those details were taken directly from a line in Breaking Bad when Saul is discussing his new identity with Walt. These flash-forward scenes with Gene Takovic are presented in black and white to distinguish the future from the present.

“Uno” begins with a Gene Takovic scene that sets up how depressing and dull Saul’s life will become. But then it’s back to Albuquerque where Saul is living under his original name.

Fans meet new characters in the ‘Better Cal Saul’ pilot

Bob Odenkirk arrives at the 'Better Call Saul' premiere in Los Angeles
Bob Odenkirk of ‘Better Call Saul’ | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

At first, Breaking Bad fans only cared about characters they knew from Breaking Bad like Saul, Mike Ehrmantraut, and Tuco, who all appear in “Uno.” But the first episode also introduces some new faces who will become essential pieces of the story.

After getting in a fight with Howard Hamlin over his brother Chuck’s severance, Jimmy heads outside and shares a cigarette with his former colleague Kim Wexler. Fans don’t know it at the time, but Kim will become an integral player in the Breaking Bad universe even though she never appears in the original series.

Chuck McGill and Howard Hamlin are also important to the overall story of how Jimmy becomes Saul. Nacho Varga is one Breaking Bad character who doesn’t appear in the pilot but shows up later on.

The ‘Better Call Saul’ pilot includes ‘Breaking Bad’ Easter eggs

Breaking Bad writers are masterful at incorporating subtle symbolism and foreshadowing throughout each episode of the series. That hint dropping continued during the first episode of Better Call Saul as well.

When Jimmy kicks the trash can in frustration, it has a similar look to when Walt strikes the paper towel dispenser in Breaking Bad. Fans also see that Jimmy is operating his law firm out of a nail salon. In Breaking Bad, he suggests Jesse launder his drug money through a nail salon also.

Perceptive fans will notice that Jimmy’s beat-up yellow car is parked next to a slick white Cadillac that bears a strong resemblance to the car he’ll drive in Breaking Bad. Even the original air date of “Uno” has significance. Saul Goodman appears for the first time during season 2, episode 8 of Breaking Bad. So the fact that the pilot episode of Better Call Saul dropped on February 8 — 2/8 — is no coincidence.

Catch the final season of Better Call Saul in 2022.

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