Eat your heart out, Gotham. Only two episodes in and the darkly comic Better Call Saul is writing the book on how to do the prequel right. Set six years before the tumultuous events of Breaking Bad, Saul Goodman is known by his real name James McGill, a down-on-his-luck lawyer trying to make good.
That won’t last, of course, as he encounters several familiar characters and situations from Vince Gilligan’s stand-out, meth-addled series. Here are the five best Breaking Bad Easter eggs to be found in Better Call Saul so far.
Warning: Spoilers for episodes “Uno” and “Mijo” to follow.
1. Cinnabon, Omaha
Before we see James McGill in the past, we are treated to a beautifully filmed (almost heartbreaking!) black-and-white intro where we see what Saul has been up to after Walter White forced him to relocate and change his identity (again). On the run from the law, Saul sports a handlebar mustache, a Cinnabon apron and a guilty, fear-ridden conscience. What makes this intro terrific for Breaking Bad viewers is that Saul predicted this mundane outcome in one that show’s final episodes: “If I’m lucky, a month from now, best-case scenario, I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha.”
2. Better Call Saul!
After Saul returns home from his managing job at Cinnabon he treats himself, and us, to a bit of nostalgia. He pours a drink, plops in a recliner and flips through the channels of his television. At first we’re reminded of Tortuga, the ill-fated DEA informant played by Danny Trejo when Saul stops on a show about pancake tortoises. But then he gets a different idea. He gets up, fishes out a VHS tape and relives his glory years by watching the “Better Call Saul!” commercials he filmed at the height of his “criminal lawyer” success.
3. Mike Returns
Now we’re back in the past. Saul goes by his given name of James McGill, a public defense attorney without much luck or money. His clients are deviants, his office resides in the backroom of a nail salon and he’s subjected to the torment of a parking lot attendant – wait, is that Mike?! Mike Ehrmentraut? Yes, the sleepy-eyed Jonathan returns, but not as a cop or a cleaner. He’s just a guy who gives James a tough time over parking validation stickers. “When do we get to see him team up with Gus Fring and shoot people?” is one of Better Call Saul’s most exciting questions.
4. Cellphone Anxiety
One of Breaking Bad’s most agonizing sub-plots involved the cover-up and eventual discovery of Walter White’s second cellphone. He hid it from everybody, including wife Skyler, to make drug deals. Cellphones continue to be a source of anxiety in Better Call Saul, except this time they cause more than anxiety – they seem to be killing Saul’s brother, played by Michael McKean. Since this prequel is set in 2002, it would make sense for the rise of cellphone use to affect those allergic to electromagnetism. They drive McKean so crazy he hides in his house in the dark underneath a “space blanket.” Just one of the many things Jimmy McGill has to deal with.
Besides cellphones, Jimmy deals with two skateboarding scammers in the first two episodes. When the brothers unsuccessfully punk James, he takes them under his wing so that together they can make some dough and gain some business. Only the idiot brothers choose the wrong target – the “abuelita” of Breaking Bad’s first major villain. That’s right, in the most surprising reveal of the first episode Tuco appears and gives the annoying brothers a beating. Who knew you could be so happy to see a deranged, homicidal maniac again?