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Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched last night's Season 3 premiere of Better Call Saul.
Few TV spinoffs have worked to build audience anticipation quite like Better Call Saul, which has been brilliantly planting the seeds and setting the stage for the eventuality of Breaking Bad's central narrative, while also crafting its own distinctly deep and nuanced universe. And arguably most interesting is how each of the three season premieres has kicked off with Bob Odenkirk settled into the black-and-white existence of Cinnabon manager Gene. When co-creator Vince Gilligan was asked if Gene's current Omaha life is meant to be a purgatory or hell, he couldn't have answered better.
I suppose if Vince Gilligan had mentioned Better Call Saul would be introducing Bob Odenkirk's frequent collaborator David Cross as a new version of Walter White, that would have been a more jarring and unconventionally exciting announcement, but we're perfectly content with his teasy half-explanation behind Better Call Saul's mysterious flash-forwards. Before last night's Season 3 premiere, I wasn't even convinced that Gilligan and co-creator Peter Gould had a definitive plan in mind for how Jimmy's life would continue on after his Saul Goodman years were necessarily left behind in the name of survival. (Check out our theory on Jimmy's eventual fate, as hinted at by the premiere's title.)
Theoretically, Better Call Saul could take Season 3 and Season 4 to give Jimmy McGill his full transition into Saul Goodman-dom, and rather than either ending the series or rehashing the early chunk of Breaking Bad from a different perspective, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould could easily just shift the story forward so that audiences are now following Gene for however long it takes to tell his tale. And judging from the startling way things played out in Season 3 premiere, which saw Gene both ratting out a mall thief and then drawing more attention to himself by hollering for the thief to get a lawyer, there is still some spunk behind his muted work shirts.
While he might have just looked like a mustachioed day-worker in previous flash-forwards, Gene changed the game with his outburst, and Peter Gould discussed that big moment with THR.
All of that would be interesting in and of itself, but now that Vince Gilligan has hinted at a whole new storytelling highway that could open up in Omaha, my interest in Gene and his mall job has skyrocketed. After all, while it's all well and good getting to see familiar characters from Breaking Bad as they were before Walter White's Heisen-fluence wrecked everyone's lives, following Gene in the future obviously sets up the potential for fans to catch up with characters AFTER the events of Breaking Bad's series finale. Which is when Aaron Paul could show up, cluing audiences in on how his life turned out after Walt freed him (way too late) from the neo-Nazis. One assumes he changed out of Todd's clothes.
We also assume everyone will be reading The Adventures of Mabel while waiting for more Better Call Saul, which airs every Monday night on AMC at 10:00 p.m. ET. To see when everything else is heading to the small screen in the near future, head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide.