Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul creator Vince Gilligan has revealed one detail from the parent show he wishes he could change in light of the prequel. Breaking Bad‘s influence can be felt in almost all of modern television, but obviously nowhere more than in Better Call Saul. A prequel exploring the pre-criminal lawyer times of Saul Goodman – formerly Jimmy McGill – the show details Alberquerque in the years leading up the Heinserberg’s reign.
Naturally, this creates quite a writing challenge. This is a prequel with direct ties to Breaking Bad – an essential subplot details the war between Gus Fring and Hector Salamanca – but there are several hard-fast rules established by the original show that limit the drama. Chief among them, our protagonist, Jimmy, can’t actually meet drug kingpin Gus, although there are also some minor details that prove particularly problematic for the writers.
Screen Rant recently talked with Vince Gilligan, the creator of both shows, about the writing process for Better Call Saul, particularly in regard to the canon of Breaking Bad. After detailing how the Jimmy/Gus paradigm caused several blocks in the writer’s room, the showrunner revealed a more obscure roadblock that he’s yet to be able to get around – Saul’s two failed marriages:
“I’ll tell you a tricky one. Off the top of my head, there was some casual reference Saul Goodman made way back in Breaking Bad about being married twice or three times or something like that. That one has bedeviled us for sure. It was just a goofy throwaway line in an episode of Breaking Bad where Saul Goodman talked about his second wife or some such and that has bedeviled us. We’re trying to figure that one out. When did he a wife? And who was the second wife? Who was his first wife? Blah blah blah. That was a tricky one.”
Gilligan isn’t kidding about how this creates a problem. In Green Light, the fourth episode of Breaking Bad‘s third season, Saul says to Walter White, “I caught my second wife screwing my stepdad. OK? It’s a cruel world, Walt. Grow up.“, setting up both two marriages and a particularly messy break up for the second. The first wife has actually been referenced in Better Call Saul in what’s described as the “Chicago Sunroof” incident: one of Jimmy’s mates slept with his wife, so in revenge he defecated in his car. But there’s been no mention of a second wife, nor any possible signs of her or the stepfather in any three seasons of Saul.
Some have speculated the wife is Kim Wexler, or that this happened long before the 2003-set events of the show – that’s the only way to explain the parental part of the story given Jimmy’s mother died years before – but the possibility looms that this will eventually be explained as exaggeration, manipulation or straight-up lies on Saul’s part (the cheating aspect could even be lifted from his real-life first wife). The fact an answer hasn’t been even glanced with would definitely suggest an official decision hasn’t been decided on yet, and only goes to prove Gilligan’s early-stated view on prequels:
“Prequels are really damned hard to write. I thought they were going to be easy. I thought – Peter Gould and I – ah hell, it’s a prequel, we know where it’ll all winds up, this will be easy. There’s so much we don’t have to make up. And we were just deluding ourselves. Prequels are actually harder because the sky is not the limit. You can’t do anything and everything with the storytelling because there’s so much set in stone later.”
In our full interview with Gilligan, we discussed how the writers construct the continuity-tight show, as well as pepper it with dozens of Breaking Bad cameos. Our full conversation with the TV mastermind will be available soon.
Better Call Saul Season 3 is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now.
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