Better Call Saul season 5 transforms a throwaway line from Breaking Bad and turns into a main plot point. Since its debut in 2015, the spinoff show has of course featured multiple references to its parent program. However, one of Better Call Saul’s strongest assets is that it never leans on Breaking Bad nods as a crutch; instead, any Easter eggs are worked organically into the story, allowing Better Call Saul to stand on its own merits while the larger connections are more meaningful and make an impact. There’s no such thing as cheap fan service in Vince Gilligan’s Albuquerque. It took four seasons for Jimmy McGill to complete his transformation into Saul Goodman.
But with Better Call Saul nearing the end of its shelf life (the sixth season will be the last), the Breaking Bad tie-ins may have to become more overt as Gilligan builds to Saul’s conclusion. Last season saw chemist Gale Boetticher cameo on a couple of occasions and featured a subplot where Gus Fring began construction on the famous meth super lab. Better Call Saul also saw the arrival of supporting character Lalo, someone longtime Breaking Bad fans first heard about years ago. And now, it seems viewers are finally going to learn the full story of Lalo’s history.
In the aptly-titled Breaking Bad season 2 episode “Better Call Saul,” there’s a scene where Walter White and Jesse Pinkman kidnap Saul to threaten him into taking a bribe. Upon being captured, Saul pleads for his life, saying, “It wasn’t me, it was Ignacio! He’s the one!” (a reference to Better Call Saul character Nacho Varga, key member of the Salamanca cartel). Saul is relieved to learn Walt and Jesse weren’t sent by the mysterious Lalo, suggesting things went sideways there.
Lalo actor Tony Dalton was promoted to series regular for season 5, meaning he’ll have a larger role this time around. And since both Saul and Nacho have ties to Lalo, it stands reason to believe that their paths will cross at some point in the near future. In the season 5 premiere “Magic Man,” it’s revealed Lalo is investigating cartel activity, highly suspicious of what happened with Werner Ziegler in season 4. It’s still too early to say for sure how things are going to play out (and with Gilligan at the wheel, there are bound to be a few surprises along the way), but it sets the stage for an intriguing season and it’ll be interesting to see what happens. Lalo is about to become a problem for all of the main players on Better Call Saul.
Part of what makes Better Call Saul so much fun to watch is even though viewers know Saul ends up managing a Cinnabon in Omaha, it’s still able to deliver compelling drama on a consistent basis. Audiences now assume the position of sitting in horror as two trains are about to collide into each other. In a very twisted Breaking Bad way, Jimmy’s decision to practice law as Saul Goodman is admirable; he wants to reinvent himself and be his own person to escape his brother’s overbearing shadow. But like all choices in this universe, it’s one that comes with serious consequences Jimmy isn’t aware of yet. He’s about to get more than he ever bargained for, ending up in business with cartel members. Odds are, Lalo wants something more than a burner phone.