Better Call Saul likes to kick off each season with a black-and-white peek into the future — a look at the down-and-out Cinnabon manager named Gene (Bob Odenkirk), who is actually Saul Goodman (also Odenkirk), who is actually Jimmy McGill (yep, still Odenkirk). But now, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, creators of AMC’s Breaking Bad prequel, have opened the door to the possibility that those scenes are not as far into the future as you think they are. And that Walter White (Bryan Cranston) could still be alive and kicking at the time.
Both producers joined Odenkirk on the latest installment on the Better Call Saul Insider Podcast, hosted by Kelley Dixon, and in discussing the season 4 premiere, Odenkirk delved into the predicament of Gene (who’s been in hiding) and asked rhetorically “as a fan”: “Does he see a window to be a more full presence in the world and why would he see that?” Odenkirk followed that up with another question. If the news of Walter White’s death reaches Gene, “does that make him think, ‘I can come out from hiding?’”
“Bob brings up an interesting question,” says Gilligan. “Speaking of which: Do we even know in our Omaha sequences, our Gene sequences… I mean, has it happened yet?” (“It,” of course, refers to Walt’s death.)
“We haven’t defined that,” responded Gould. “We haven’t said how long Gene has been in Omaha.”
“It’s a good question,” added Gilligan. “Like you said, we don’t know yet. It’s a good question. Has it happened yet, has it not? As you say, Peter, we have not defined it.”
“It’s an open question,” Gould replied. “It’s one that will have to be answered at some point — like a lot of these things.”
In other words, it’s now possible that the Gene scenes seen thus far have been taking place sometime in the months after Saul entered the cleaner’s unofficial witness relocation program as a Cinnabon employee in Omaha but before Walter White returned from New Hampshire and took out the neo-Nazis, along with himself, in the Breaking Bad finale. But it’s also plausible — and what’s largely been considered to be the case — that these scenes took place after the events of the finale — after all, Saul/Gene does seem to look older, indicating that more time has passed — and that the series will give us a flashback within these flash-forwards that reveals the moment when Gene finds out that Walt is dead, or possibly some kind of interaction with him before he died.
In any case, Better Call Saul definitely will be revisiting events within the Breaking Bad timeline in season 4. “We have a subplot that very squarely gets into Breaking Bad territory and brings us into the world — or at least points us on a path toward the world of Walter White and the territory of Walter White,” co-creator Vince Gilligan recently told EW. “I can’t wait for folks to see that.” And Gilligan has made it known that he “desperately” wants to plot a way to have Cranston and co-star Aaron Paul appear on Better Call Saul in a meaningful way. “[I]t wouldn’t feel as satisfying if it was just a cameo or an Alfred Hitchcock walkthrough,” noted Gilligan. “I think we’ve waited long enough. We damn well better have a good reason for them to show up.” He may have found another way for Walt to re-enter the story.
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC. To read all sorts of hints from Odenkirk about season 4, head over here.