The latest episode of Better Call Saul has Bob Odenkirk’s Gene stealing two big moves from the Walter White playbook. Breaking Bad is already considered classic tv less than a decade after going off air. Better Call Saul, the follow-up series also co-created by Vince Gilligan, seems likely to have the same fate. Both series feature dynamic leads with Bod Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill and Bryan Cranston as Walter White. Both characters are flawed but seemingly good men that take villainous turns.
In Better Call Saul‘s prequel timeline, there isn’t any intentional comparison between Jimmy and Walt. After all, the pair haven’t met at this point. However, that’s not the case once we get to the Gene. Better Call Saul‘s Gene era is the black-and-white sequel narrative set after Breaking Bad. Gene has been influenced by what he saw of Walter. This has had an impact on him both positively and negatively, in ways he may not realize.
How Better Call Saul’s Gene is imitating Walter White
Season 6’s “Nippy” is the first time Gene specifically mentions Walter on Better Call Saul. However, it’s more than just a passing mention. Gene uses Walter’s Breaking Bad methods twice during the episode.
Under the Cottonwood Mall heist, Jeff stumbles and jeopardizes Gene’s master plan. The 3-minute window during which Frank can consume cinnamon sweetness runs out as a result of Jeff’s fall. To keep the security guard occupied, Gene feigns a breakdown. In a spontaneous existential crisis, Gene expresses his sadness over his isolation.
Meanwhile, in Breaking Bad season 5’s “Dead Freight,” Walter needs to break into Hank’s DEA computer. To get his burly brother-in-law to go, Walt goes through a semi-pretend breakdown about his failed marriage and the loss of his family. He knows that Hank would feel self-conscious and leave the area. The diversion is quite similar to that of Gene in Better Call Saul season 6. The fact is that both men are revealing their genuine emotions.
Genre uses another move from Walter White’s playbook
After the Cottonwood Mall heist is completed, Jeff is taking his newfound luxuries for a spin. Gene then shifts into a tough guy mode. Gene, in a confident stride, sternly informs his shocked accomplices that he does not exist. He instructs them not to visit Cottonwood Mall, and if they spot him, they should cross the street. Gene finishes his threat with a demand. “Now I need you to say it: ‘we’re done.’ Say it. ‘We’re done.’” Finally, Jeff and his companion surrender out of intimidation.
During the fifth season of Breaking Bad, “Live Free or Die,” Saul Goodman got sick of Walter White’s increasing demands. Saul tried to assert himself and said, “you and me, we’re done.” With a calm demeanor, Walt got up from his chair, came face-to-face with his lawyer, and firmly put Saul in his place. “We’re done when I say we’re done,” he said.
Of course, this is the same energy Gene is channeling in “Nippy.” Gene not only reverses his position from before, but he also adopts Walter’s method of quiet fury as a tool of intimidation. Gene’s message, on the other hand, is a little different. Instead of “we’re done when I say we’re done,” the message is more like “I say we’re done, so we’re done.”