Vince Gilligan Suggests Walter White May Still Be Alive in ’Better Call Saul’ Flash-Forwards
The majority of Better Call Saul takes place years before Walter White ever gets into the meth-making biz; it is a Breaking Bad prequel, after all. However, as fans of the show know, each season opens with a black-and-white flash-forward to Saul’s (er, Gene’s) secret life working at a Cinnabon after the events of Breaking Bad. But wait – what if those sequences don’t actually take place after the original series, but concurrently with Walt’s final days?
In a recent episode of the Better Call Saul Insider podcast (h/t LRM), Vince Gilligan suggests as much and throws a massive wrench into what we thought was the shared timeline. During the episode, Bob Odenkirk mentions those black-and-white sequences – and don’t worry, no Saul Season 4 spoilers – where Saul is living in Omaha under the identity of Gene, a Cinnabon manager. Then Odenkirk poses an interesting question: “Speaking as a fan, if Walter White dies in [the] meth lab and that’s on the news in some capacity, I don’t know... Does that make him think, ‘I can come out from hiding?’” But then Gilligan breaks in and throws a huge curveball, suggesting that Walt might actually be alive during those flash-forwards. Here’s the exchange with Gilligan and Peter Gould:
Gilligan: Bob brings up an interesting question, speaking of which. Do we even know in our Omaha sequences, our Gene sequences, do we even know? Has [Walt’s death] even happened yet?
Gould: We haven’t said how long Gene has been in Omaha.
Gilligan: We don’t know yet. Has it happened yet? Has it not? As you said Peter, we have not defined it.
Gould: It’s an open question. It’s one that will have to be answered at some point.
Whaaaaaaaaat? So you’re telling me Gene may be working at the Cinnabon before the events of the Breaking Bad finale “Felina” and that Walt may still be alive at that point? If you’re a little fuzzy on the end of Breaking Bad, no worries. Let’s recap.
In the penultimate episode of the series, “Granite State,” Saul visits his vacuum repair man/extractor pal Ed. Saul takes a new ID photo, says goodbye to a freaking-out Walt in the bunker of the shop, then he’s off to Nebraska. The rest of the episode finds Ed dropping off Walt at the New Hampshire cabin, and as you may remember, a series of months go by before the end of the episode when Walt calls up the DEA. We never see Saul again, then Walt dies in the lab in “Felina.”
Most of us assumed Saul‘s black-and-white scenes took place after all that, but now Gould and Gilligan are suggesting they could in fact be happening during the time Walt is in the cabin/returning to Albuquerque. That gives the creators a perfect opportunity to bring Bryan Cranston onto Better Call Saul. There’s more evidence the spinoff will return to the events of “Granite State” too. A few months back, Michael McKean shared a set photo of Odenkirk from Season 4, and in that photo Odenkirk is wearing the same exact shirt he’s seen wearing when Ed takes his photo. And as I’ve written before, Robert Forster, who plays Ed, has previously said he’s reprising his role on Saul.
All that said, it would be odd for Gilligan and Gould to have Walt and Saul/Gene reunite in those Omaha scenes – how would Walt have time to drive all the way to Omaha before “Felina”? Perhaps we’ll see what Odenkirk suggested, Gene flipping on the news to find out Walt is dead, or news of the manhunt before his death. The fourth season will bring us closer to the world of Breaking Bad, so we’ll just have to keep watching.