December 2, 2023

Breaking Bad Universe Come to an End

On Monday August 15th Better Call Saul wrapped up its final season, thus closing out the Breaking Bad universe. On January 20th, 2008 Vince Gilligan’s brainchild, Breaking Bad premiered on AMC. Ever since, the show has been highly acclaimed by critics and fans alike. The fanbase is alive and well and the impact of the show is still being seen today. The show and team were so well received and attached to the show that the sequel-prequel series Better Call Saul and sequel movie El Camino were greenlit. This will be your final warning for spoilers for the entirety of the universe thus far.

Breaking Bad: Breaking Bad follows High School chemistry teacher Walter White. After a lung cancer prognosis on his 50th birthday he joins forces with former student and current drug dealer, Jesse Pinkman. The show lasted five seasons throughout 2008-2013. The show introduced fan favorites like Gus Fring, Mike Ehrmantraut, Hank Schrader, The infamous Salamanca family, and Saul Goodman. We see the rise and fall of Walter’s meth empire while also seeing his greed and ego destroy everything around him. The finale aired September 29th, 2013 as we saw a 52 year old Walter return to Albuquerque (where the universe all takes place in) and get revenge on the neo-Nazi gang he partnered with in season 5. The bittersweet finale saw Walter die as Jesse, who was previously enslaved by the neo-Nazi’s to cook meth escaped into freedom.

(From left to right) Jonathon Banks “Mike Ehrmantraut”, Bob Odenkirk “Saul Goodman” Aaron Paul “Jesse Pinkman” Bryan Cranston “Walter White” Betsy Brandt “Marie Schrader” Dean Norris “Hank Schrader” Anna Gunn “Skylar White” RJ Mitte “Walter White Jr.”

Better Called Saul: On February 8th, 2015 Vince Gilligan and his new partner in crime, Peter Gould brought the prequel-sequel series, Better Call Saul to air. Breaking Bad takes place between 2008 and 2010 with Better Call Saul taking place between 2002 and ending in 2010 after the original show ended. Through seasons 1 to 5 each season started with a glimpse into Saul’s life after the events of Breaking Bad (from here on referred to as BRBA). We see him work at a Cinnabon in Omaha, Nebraska. Constantly on edge he faints and is taken to the hospital where his ruse is tested and almost comes to an end. Until season 6 all we see of Saul’s post BRBA life is contained there, the rest of the show is a prequel following Jimmy McGill before he changed his name and turned into the slimy criminal lawyer known as Saul Goodman. The series has introduced a multitude of new characters, and reintroduces many others. New characters like Nacho Varga, and Lalo Salamanca are brought into the cartel side of the show, and Howard Hamlin, Chuck McGill and Kim Wexler are introduced to the main lawyer plot. We see the show blend into the continuity of the original in season 6. Season 6 also ends with the episode, Saul Gone, a play on the words, It’s all gone much like Jimmy’s common play on words, “S’all good man” which is the reason behind his persona in BRBA. In the events of the finale we see Jimmy/Saul get caught and booked for all the crimes he aided and conspired in during BRBA. Sentenced to 86 years in prison we see one last reunion between husband and wife, Jimmy and Kim sharing a smoke together. Better Call Saul has garnered intense academy attention and is currently up for 3 Emmys, outstanding drama series, best lead actor for Bob Odenkirk, and supporting actress for Rhea Seehorn. Time will tell if this show gets the recognition it deserves but the fan support has been overwhelming across the board.

(Left to right) Peter Gould (showrunner), “Kim Wexler” (Rhea Seehorn), “Lalo Salamanca” (Tony Dalton) “Mike Ehrmantraut” (Jonathon Banks) “Jimmy McGill, Saul Goodman, Gene Takovic” (Bob Odenkirk), “Nacho Varga” (Michael Mando), “Howard Hamlin” (Patrick Fabian) “Gus Fring” (Giancarlo Esposito)

El Camino: El Camino came straight to Netflix in 2019. It follows Jesse Pinkman after his escape from the neo-Nazi’s capture. Jesse struggles to get the money he would require to go on the run and disappear from the heat he’s in directly following BRBA. Jesse reunites with old friends, Skinny Pete and Badger. Much-like most of the original show, El Camino has heavy western influence. Seen through it’s cinematography and the third act climaxing with a duel between Jesse and his foe or even how Jesse’s character is framed through classic western hero motifs. Ending with Jesse successfully making it out and moving to Alaska after a conversation with Mike in a flashback scene.

Aaron Paul “Jesse Pinkman” at the Netflix El Camino premiere. (2019, Colorized)

Breaking Bad‘s impact is still scene today, in a plethora of places. The pop culture impact is probably the most worthy of discussion seeing how BRBA is a television series. A multitude of shows and movies have referenced iconic BRBA scenes and characters (My favorites of which being Zootopia and Amazing World Of Gumball). Music has also seen its fair share of influence from the iconic series with songs like All Glass by Freddie Gibbs or Los Pollos Hermanos by Knucks, inspired by elements of the show. All this and more is shown through the passionate fanbase it has acquired, and passionate is an understatement. The internet has created and brought together many groups who are to this day in love with both shows. But what could be a more clear sign of BRBA influence then the statues put up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. On July, 29th 2022 in Albuquerque, New Mexico a statue of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman were erected. Every scene of BRBA took place almost exclusively in ABQ and with the show’s wild success a piece of the show was bound to be attached to the city.

(Left to right) Walter White and Jesse Pinkman statues

There is no doubt that Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, or El Camino have not seriously impacted the world around us and shown to the world that they will continue to last in our pop culture sphere for many more years. Saying goodbye to this universe may be bittersweet but we just had so much fun while it lasted.

(Editor Note) Now I must say much of my knowledge of this topic came from my good buddy Lucas who I MUST say is a very attractive and intelligent man who I am very proud to call my friend.