He hasn't appeared on-screen in the third season of Better Call Saul, but Gus Fring's looming presence is already being felt on the show. In the first episode, Mike tries to track down the person who left a conspicuous note on his car, stopping him from exacting revenge on the Salamanca family, and that convoluted road could very well lead him to Gus' doorstop. Or, perhaps more fittingly, the entrance of a Los Pollos Hermanos.
However, once Fring makes his highly anticipated return on-screen, should viewers — and especially, Breaking Bad fans — expect a different version of the character? After all, Better Call Saul is a slow burn of a prequel, and much of the story has shown incremental changes to the characters of Jimmy and Mike before the events of the flagship series.
Apparently, the answer is both yes and no. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Better Call Saul co-creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould explained that Fring is at an earlier stage in his career, so he's a bit different, but he's still the pragmatic, mysterious badass of his Breaking Bad days.
I'm not saying he's exactly the same guy — he's at a different point in his career, it's an earlier stage — but I think it occurred to us we didn't want to see him too early in the fumbling beginnings of his career because he's just so cool. He's so fascinating and so mysterious. I don't think we wanted to deflate all that mystery that we've come to know and love about this character. There's a lot we don't understand yet about this character. Some things we may never understand about him, and he is as competent and capable and fearsome a competitor as he ever was.
It's worth keeping the surprise intact, but viewers will be rewarded once Fring makes his return later this season, along with some other familiar Breaking Bad faces. "It's a no-brainer to add this character back, and I'm being a little bit funny here, but it's amazing to me it took us this long to bring this character back," Gilligan said. "We all love him so much."
The third season of Better Call Saul airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. Eastern on AMC. You can check out a sneak peek of the second episode, "Witness," below.
Mic has ongoing Better Call Saul coverage. Follow our main Better Call Saul hub here.