Breaking Bad was one of the most popular shows on television during its time, finishing up in five seasons back in 2013. The show told the story of Walter White, a 50-year-old family-man surprisingly diagnosed with cancer who turns to cooking meth. Vince Gilligan’s show became a pop culture icon, boosting the career of actor Bryan Cranston along the way.
But Breaking Bad was also responsible for making the career of another actor, and that’s Bob Odenkirk. Originally just the comic relief as scumbag attorney Saul Goodman, Odenkirk goes into better depth on the character’s life prior to the events of Breaking Bad in Gilligan’s spin-off prequel, Better Call Saul. While it’s not Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul has been a critical success of its own.
They just started production on their fourth season, so we took a look at the things we know already plus some questions about where they’re headed. Will Better Call Saul Season 4 finally begin to cross over Saul Goodman’s story with the plot of Breaking Bad?
It will premiere in August 2018
In an interview with Gold Derby at the 36th annual Vancouver International Film Festival, Better Call Saul writer and executive producer Thomas Schnauz confirmed when the show would return to TV in 2018.
Because the Season 3 premiere came in April of 2017, that means that nearly a year-and-a-half will have passed by the time Better Call Saul returns. Given how they left us on a major cliffhanger at the end of last season, we’re exceedingly ready for Saul to return!
Chuck is dead (or is he?)
The aforementioned cliffhanger relates to Jimmy (or Saul) and his brother, Chuck McGill (played my Michael McKean). After brutally telling Jimmy that he never really meant all that much to him, Chuck loses all the progress he made with his mental condition. He maddeningly tears his house apart in search of the remaining source of electricity, culminating with Chuck kicking his desk to knock a lantern over on a stack of newspapers.
The final shot of the episode, appropriately titled Lantern, was of the exterior of Chuck’s home as flames engulfed his living room. It was left somewhat ambiguous as to whether he will live to see Season 4, but Gilligan has tried to be clear about his intentions while also not ruling anything out.
“It looks like Chuck has shuffled off his mortal coil, and if that is indeed the case, that is a great shame. It leaves a huge hole for all of us, emotionally, because Michael McKean is a great guy and a tremendous actor, and this show would be just a shell of what it is without him.”
Gilligan always holds his cards close to his chest, but coming this far with the character and not killing him off would be insulting to the audience. The writers know this, as well. As much as McKean will be missed, there really can’t be any way that Chuck survives.
What will happen to Chuck’s buyout with HHM?
One of the key parts of Lantern is Chuck finally accepting the buyout with HHM, three payments of $3 million each that largely come out of the private funds of his former partner, Howard Hamlin. No detail is ever for naught with Better Call Saul (or Breaking Bad, for that fact), so expect that this $9 million windfall will come back up in Season 4.
The best guess is that the money goes to Chuck’s next of kin, which happens to be his brother, Jimmy. As we last saw Jimmy, he was treading down the road of no return toward becoming Saul Goodman. Jimmy can’t practice law for a year, has destroyed the trust of the elderly community, and had to sublet his shared office with girlfriend Kim Wexler following a car accident that left her badly injured.
One of the very last things that Chuck said to Jimmy was that he should embrace who he truly is, a shyster that ends up hurting everyone around him. Jimmy running into this $9 million gift, via the death of his brother no less, would truly vault the story forward and help further the transformation into Saul Goodman. After all, we do know that Saul ends up with a very successful, albeit disreputable, solo practice in Albuquerque.
Will there be a time gap?
Minus the presumed death of Chuck, pretty much every story line that had been uncovered in Season 3 was wrapped up in a satisfying way by the end of Lantern. Mike is working with Gus Fring, Hector Salamanca had the stroke that relegated him to a wheelchair in Breaking Bad, and Kim has decided that a break from practicing law is best for her both physically and mentally. Even Jimmy can’t do much of interest, with months remaining on his suspension from practicing law.
With around 15 months separating the final episode of Season 3 and the premiere of Season 4, a leap forward for the timeline of Better Call Saul makes a lot of sense. We don’t truly need to see the immediate aftermath of Chuck’s death, nor do we need to see Jimmy’s conflicted mourning. Our hope is that the writers will take us a bit down the road, opening the season with a healthy Kim and a slightly wealthier Jimmy that’s nearing the end of his suspension and determining how to move forward with his career.
Will Gus Fring return once again?
One of the key pieces involved in Breaking Bad was Gus Fring, the proprietor of Los Pollos Hermanos and the big-time underground meth business. Aptly played by Giancarlo Esposito, Fring returned in Season 3 of Better Call Saul to help add background to both Mike’s story as well as the entire BB/BCS universe. We saw his strained relationship with Hector, culminating in a deal that left all drug transport between the U.S.A. and Mexico to be done via Fring’s chicken trucks.
The question remaining is whether Fring will return once again in Season 4. This tweet from actor Patrick Fabian (Howard Hamlin) shows much of the cast preparing to begin shooting, and Esposito is curiously missing. But also missing is Jonathon Banks (Mike), who is a major part of Better Call Saul‘s success. The look that Gus was giving Ignacio “Nacho” Varga in their final scene of Lantern suggests that there is more story to tell.
Indeed, Schnauz hints that there will be more of Nacho in Season 4 as he helps carry Jimmy further toward his inevitable rebirth as Saul. More Nacho almost certainly means more Gus Fring.
What will happen to Gene?
Better Call Saul fans will know that “Gene” is Jimmy’s future moniker, no longer as the dirty lawyer but the beaten down, mustachioed assistant manager of a Cinnabon in Omaha. Each season opens with a short, black-and-white scene that builds on what we know of Gene in the post-Walter White era.
In the first scene, we learned Gene’s whereabouts – originally teased in one of the final episodes of Breaking Bad. In the second, we see Gene get locked inside the mall after hours but too fearful to pull an alarm to call for the police. In the most recent scene, we see Gene pass out while icing down some tasty cinnamon buns.
What comes next for Gene? Will Season 4 open with him in a hospital bed, worried that his true identity might slip out? Just as interesting as learning how Jimmy became Saul, at least for diehard fans of Breaking Bad, is finding out what will inevitably become of poor Gene.
Could Season 4 cross over with Breaking Bad?
One of the biggest – and most obvious – issues with Better Call Saul for Odenkirk and the writers is that the character we saw on Breaking Bad was extremely one-dimensional. Saul was around primarily as a plot device, with a side of comic relief. How will BCS handle its primary character, the one that has made the show so successful, becoming Saul Goodman? Odenkirk has some ideas.
In Breaking bad, we only saw Saul at work, which makes sense because he was working for Walter and that was his value and purpose in the story of Breaking Bad. But if we’re going to get to know him as well as we have in Saul, perhaps some of those sequences in Breaking Bad, we might get to see behind Saul’s story a little more. His side of the story that might make him a different character in the course of seeing that — [a side] even I haven’t seen yet.
There is a notion that Better Call Saul will last five seasons, just like Breaking Bad. The fourth season of Vince Gilligan’s other series ended with the death of Gus Fring and a major turning point for the series. Does that mean BCS could be working toward a major turning point?
It’s very possible that, by the end of the upcoming season of Better Call Saul, we could see the show begin to cross the timeline originally presented in Breaking Bad.
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