You might have heard about a little Breaking Bad sequel movie that’s out this month — it’s called El Camino and follows the post-finale exploits of your boy, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). But before that movie premieres, it would be wise to either brush up on all the happenings that come before it, or to revisit them for a handy refresher if you’re already a fan. Especially because in NSW, SA, ACT and QLD it’s a long weekend, meaning if you’re lucky enough to live in these places you’ve got a whole extra day of viewing time up your sleeve.
There’s no denying you simply have to watch these shows, as Breaking Bad is widely considered to be one of the greatest television drama series of all time, winning 16 Emmys and the hearts of viewers and critics forever. Its spin-off Better Call Saul, which fleshes out elements of the Breaking Bad world, is also critically acclaimed and currently on its fourth season, but fans are divided over which order to watch the two series.
If you want to be ~chronological~ about your viewing, then you would start with prequel series Better Call Saul, which is streaming exclusively on Stan. The series takes place around 6 years before the events of Breaking Bad, and follows the transformation of loveable loser Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) into the smooth-talking Albuquerque lawyer Saul Goodman who we of course came to know and love in Breaking Bad when he acted as Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) shady legal counsel.
As Better Call Saul progresses and we watch him delve into the dodgier end of legal practice, we are introduced to some of our favourite characters from Breaking Bad, including former cop turned “fixer” Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), eerily calm local drug lord and chicken shop proprietor Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Mexican drug runner Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz). While the blasts from the past are fun, Better Call Saul also treats us to a glimpse into the future at Saul’s post-Breaking Bad life where he’s taken on a new identity as the owner of a Cinnabon franchise in Nebraska named Gene.
Meanwhile, a rewatch of Breaking Bad is essential and while chronologically it takes place after Better Call Saul, you’d still be able to watch it first and not miss out on anything — after all, it was the first. This is seriously A+ viewing, and Stan is the only place streaming all 5 glorious seasons of what many people reckon is the greatest show of all time.
It’s hard to pinpoint why it’s so good, whether it’s the wild plotline of a very normal high school chemistry teacher deciding to start cooking crystal meth — for initially honourable reasons — before the power goes right to his head, or the stellar performances from Cranston, Paul, Anna Gunn as Walt’s wife Skyler White and Dean Norris as their brother-in-law, DEA Agent Hank Schrader. Adding to that is how the story unfolds from the naiveté of Walter in Season 1 to him becoming the fearsome drug kingpin Heisenberg — let’s never forget the iconic line “I am the one who knocks” — truly some of the most stunning character development of our time.
But really, what’s at the core of the series is the “odd couple” relationship between Walter and his former student Jesse, who he initially enlists to help make small batches of meth in a campervan-turned-meth lab before they hit the big time. Their bond is a strange one, you wouldn’t call it friendship or love, but there is a degree of loyalty there until things really go off the rails towards the end. As the series comes to its dramatic climax, you find yourself rooting for their relationship (no matter how weird and toxic it is) and the payoff in the finale has got to be one of the most satisfying moments in television history.
In fact, both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad are a damn treat, absolute top-notch acting and writing, and one of the best prequel-sequel pigeon pairs you’re ever gonna find. Treat yourself and watch the lot again on Stan. After all, Walter White would want you to.