11 Breaking Bad references you missed in Better Call Saul
In my opinion, Better Call Saul is a good show. Even a great one, perhaps. Gilligan’s talent of turning mundane lawyer life into an exciting drama filled with references, humor, but also not lacking in dramatic developments and interesting characters makes it a wonderful standalone show. Even being a Breaking Bad spin-off, it can hold its ground just fine on its own.
That being said, however, it is still a spin-off show. Breaking Bad‘s shadow still hands above it, reminding us of the meth-cooking science teacher that came before. It is seen in the characters, the setting, the cinematography and the directing. Every episode we get reminded of something that took place in the predecessor show, sometimes quite obviously, and other times more subtly, almost invisibly.
In this article I’ll try to collect some Breaking Bad references in Better Call Saul that you might have missed – you’ll be surprised at the things the show hides sometimes.
1] THE HEISENBERG COSTUME
In the very first episode, as Jimmy is arguing with a receptionist, a very familiar pork pie hat and white jacket can be seen hanging on the clothes stand. It is unlikely that these are the same clothes that Walter White would come to wear to assume his Heisenberg persona, but it is still a likely nod to the show that came before.
In Breaking Bad, Saul uses the phrase “a trip to Belize” as a metaphor for killing Hank, saying that’s where Mike went. Soon after the episode in which Saul uttered this phrase aired, the Belize Tourism Board invited the entire cast of Breaking Bad to an all-paid vacation to Belize to prove that going there is not a death sentence. So when Jimmy uses Belize as the word for the letter ‘B’ in a bingo game for the elderly and says “beautiful place, so I’ve heard”, you can be sure he’s speaking from experience.
3] JESSE PINKMAN’S GRAFFITI
In a scene where Jimmy is talking on a public payphone, we can see the little ‘JPi’ written on the booth. You know what that stands for? Of course you do. And we did see the exact same graffiti on Jesse’s wall at his home in season 4, when his life was going to the gutter after killing Gale.
4] GALE AND JIMMY LIVE ON THE SAME STREET
Remember Gale? Poor Gale. He met his maker at the end of season 3 of Breaking Bad when Jesse knocked on his door and shot him for Walt. Well, the address that Walt mentioned as being one where Gale lives is 6353 Juan Tabo. In Better Call Saul, it is suggested that Jimmy’s address is 160 Juan Tabo, as that is what we see on the cheque from the court. Coincidence? Probably not.
5] CASA TRANQUILA
Jimmy is often seen hanging around a nursing home called Casa Tranquila, where he hosts bingo games and cons old, helpless people every now and then. It is in fact the same nursing home Don Hector ends up in when he doesn’t have anyone left to take care of him and can’t do much due to his condition. And it is the same nursing home where Hector and Gus meet for the last time in the season 4 finale of Breaking Bad, for their final face off.
6] MARCO’S RING
A very little detail that is extremely easy to miss is the ring that Jimmy takes from his best friend Marco after the latter dies back in season 1. Jimmy puts it on his finger immediately, and is seen wearing it throughout the rest of Better Call Saul, and Breaking Bad as well. It becomes a reminder of Jimmy’s crooked ways that often come disguised as friendliness and heart.
7] PIMENTO SANDWICHES
In Breaking Bad, Mike offers Jesse a pimento cheese sandwich when they’re going around on their roadtrip together in season 4. We find out in Better Call Saul that Mike has had this taste for quite some time, as he brings a packed pimento sandwich to a dangerous meeting instead of a gun. Mike is a pretty stagnant guy, after all.
8] SAUL GOODMAN’S FUTURE CAR
The same episode shows us the same 1997 Cadillac that Saul Goodman would drive in the future. It looks as though Jimmy is going for that car, but he passes it and enters his actual car from back then, the rusty 1998 Suzuki Esteem, showing his then-poor state that is going to turn to riches in the future.
9] ZAFIRO AÑEJO
A fictional brand of tequila, Zafiro Añejo, makes an appearance in both Gilligan’s shows. In Breaking Bad, it is Gus’ drink of choice used to poison the rival Juárez cartel and their leader Don Eladio. In Better Call Saul, Kim and Jimmy con the snobby rich yuppy Ken (who also happens to have appeared in Breaking Bad, where Walter blew his car up) into buying them all $50 shots of the very same tequila. Moreover, in the latest episode, Jimmy buys a whole bottle of Zafiro to celebrate things supposedly turning for the better.
10] THE TOY PIG
In the second season of Better Call Saul, Mike gifts his granddaughter Kaylee with a plush toy pig. We see that later in his life, as seen in Breaking Bad’s season 5, Mike uses the very same toy as a distraction for a hitman that’s been sent to kill him, and uses the small time window to kill the man himself. Kaylee is one of the few people in the world Mike truly cares about, and the toy can be seen as a powerful metaphor showing Mike’s primary motivation in life.
11] THE DOG HOUSE
Being a real life location in Albuquerque, it is no surprise The Dog House would appear in both shows, as it provides a scenic neon backdrop for the characters. Jesse Pinkman often hangs around the hot dog place in Breaking Bad, dealing drugs and buying guns, and Jimmy and Kim choose this fast food joint to celebrate the birth of their new job partnership in season 2 of Better Call Saul.
There are certainly a LOT more references to be found, and the producers of the show relish to throw in little bits of their predecessor show wherever they can. Have you found something that made you go “this was in Breaking Bad!”, too? Let us know!
The season 3 finale of Better Call Saul airs Monday, the 19th of June at 10 PM on AMC.
Image credit: AMC