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Better Call Saul Recap: Past And Present Collide

"Better Call Saul" kept viewers in the black-and-white Omaha timeline for the entirety of Season 6, Episode 10, "Nippy." In Episode 11, "Breaking Bad," monochrome Omaha and full-color Albuquerque twist back and forth across one another like the two sides of a DNA helix. Connecting them are the ghosts, both living and dead, that link Gene Takovic (Bob Odenkirk) with Jimmy McGill and Saul Goodman. 

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) return to shed more light on their first meeting with Saul; Slippin' Jimmy's old grift partner Marco (Mel Rodriguez) lives on in the pinky ring that Gene now sports; and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) has run away to Florida and taken Saul/Jimmy/Gene's heart with her. Gene is also no-doubt haunted by his part in the deaths of Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) and his brother Chuck (Michael McKean). 

He reaches out across worlds to his old office manager Francesca (Tina Parker), who breaks the bad news that the last of his money and shell businesses have been seized by the authorities. But she also tosses him a psychic life jacket, telling him Kim had called and asked about him after Walt's showdown with the Nazis in the "Breaking Bad" finale.

Gene is knocked off the rails by a mysterious phone conversation

The life raft turns to an anchor almost immediately. Gene calls Kim's workplace in Florida from another phone booth, but we're shut out of hearing the conversation that ensues. We do see Gene get increasingly animated, then angry enough to slam the receiver repeatedly and put his foot through the glass. 

Whatever was said was certainly more significant than "Sorry, she doesn't work here anymore," and from Gene's chat with Francesca we know this would be the first time Jimmy and Kim have spoken since Kim made the harsh decision to lave him in Episode 9. We may yet learn what was said between them — Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have revealed two sides of a phone call in separate episodes before, and with just two more installments coming, they're running out of time to use their favorite tricks. 

With his financial safety net gone and his heart dashed again, Gene resurrects another ghost: Viktor, the small-time scammer persona he used when running cons with Kim. He re-enlists cab driver Jeff (Pat Healy) and his friend Buddy (Max Bickelhaup) in a scheme to steal the identities and drain the bank accounts of a string of wealthy jerks. It's one of a bunch of bad decisions Gene makes in the Omaha timeline, and Saul on the Albuquerque side of the helix does his best to keep up in their race to ruination.

Better Call Saul is a sequel, actually

One of Gene's intended victims (Kevin Sussman) turns out to be terminally ill with cancer and Buddy, who is apparently the only one in the mini-gang with a conscience, bails on that night's work. With the ghost of Walter White still looming over his life in Omaha, Gene has little sympathy for a dying man, angrily asking Buddy, "A guy with cancer can't be an a**hole?" It's almost as if Gene is trying to get revenge on Walt on Saul's behalf, but doing it through a stranger years later is as futile as it is misguided.

Back in Albuquerque, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) also tries without success to talk Saul out of a bad decision — in this case the choice to work with Walter White. Mike tells Saul, "I wouldn't go near him. He's a complete amateur ... if the cancer doesn't get him, it'll be the cops or a bullet to the head." Saul seems to listen momentarily, even admitting that a "guy with that mustache probably doesn't make a lot of good life choices." But as Mike continues his report, Saul gets a faraway look in his eyes and we later see him walking into Walt's school for the conversation they had in "Breaking Bad" Season 2, Episode 8 which led to their ultimately disastrous partnership.

The recent focus on the Omaha storyline in "Nippy," and the significant collision of the two timelines in Episode 11, reveal perhaps Gilligan and Gould's most brilliant bit of storytelling sleight-of-hand yet: We all assumed "Better Call Saul" was a prequel to "Breaking Bad"; in reality, it was always a sequel. The significant conclusion to Jimmy's story — in "Saul" and "Bad" — is clearly coming via the Omaha timeline. It's now clearer than ever that Gilligan and Gould always intended to provide the resolution to storylines left dangling at the end of "Breaking Bad," rather than simply illuminate some aspect of Jimmy's character via an origin story. It's a bold and fascinating approach, and it only raises the stakes for these final episodes.

Things go quickly downhill for Gene as Episode 11 ends

As the ghosts from his past and his own inner demons eat away at his defenses, Gene gets more and more reckless with his decision making. He fires Buddy after his refusal to victimize a dying man and insists Jeff drive him to the man's house — despite Buddy having removed the duct tape from the man's front door lock that would have granted Gene easy entry. The spectre that haunts him most at this point is that of Slippin' Jimmy, who had to pull off small-scale scams to survive day-to-day. With his accumulated wealth gone, Gene is once again back to square one and looks to his old friend Marco's pinky ring for strength and inspiration.

The episode ends with Gene putting his fist through a glass pane in his intended victim's door, and the post-credit sequence is simply a shot of two police officers leaving their patrol car and walking towards the camera in what appears to be that same neighborhood. Things aren't looking good for the man we've followed through two series and three different identities, but the fate of Jimmy/Saul/Gene is not the only matter left to be resolved in the final two episodes of "Better Call Saul."

When does Better Call Saul Season 6, Episode 12 air?

"Better Call Saul" Season 6, Episode 12, "Waterworks," airs Monday, August 8 on AMC at 9 p.m. Eastern and 6 p.m. Pacific time. With just one more episode coming after that before the series wraps, there are still several important questions left to be answered. Bob Odenkirk recently teased that there is more to learn about Jeff's mother Marion (Carol Burnett), telling Vanity Fair, "She is related to someone you've met in the show, [but] it would take you a while to figure that out." 

Is she also Kim's mother, or Howard's, or even Walt's? Would even Saul Goodman fly that close to the sun? And with his arrest for breaking and entering apparently imminent, who does Saul call when it's time to call Saul?

The question that burns most brightly relates to Kim's fate after she fled Albuquerque. Hopefully we will be let in on the content of Gene's call to Florida before he and the rest of the "Breaking Bad"-"Better Call Saul" universe disappear forever.