What's Up With Better Call Saul's Flash-Forwards, According To Vince Gilligan

gene better call saul season 3
(Image credit: Photo courtesy of AMC)

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 think any of those things are possible, but maybe ultimately through purgatory or even hell, lies salvation. Who knows? Maybe it's a lot of different things and maybe it's gonna appear to be different things at different times to him and to us, the audience. This new world, this black-and-white world he finds himself in, it really is fraught with possibilities both good and bad. Not to be overly coy, but if and when we see more of that world -- and as one of the first fans of the series, I'm hoping we do -- I think we've got a lot of field to plow in the post-Breaking Bad/Omaha world. We've got a lot of story possibilities arrayed before us.

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.

I think he's shocked himself in that scene. I think that's fair to say. I don't think that he was expecting that he would stand up and make a spectacle of himself and draw the attention of the cops the way that he did and that certainly had a big impact on Gene. I will say, I find Gene fascinating. Like you, I'm already waiting to see more of Gene. I love the way Bob plays the character and there's something fascinating about this guy who's such a survivor, but he's scurrying around like the cockroach after the apocalypse. He's trying to hide from the big feet getting ready to stomp him. I find that fascinating and I find it fascinating that he's still got --- I guess --- a little touch of either Saul Goodman or Jimmy McGill that made him yell to that kid.

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.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.