The Lutheran tragedy of Better Call Saul

Donna Bowman

Donna Bowman
March 15, 2015

If Breaking Bad takes the form of a Greek tragedy, then maybe we could call its prequel, Better Call Saul, a Lutheran tragedy.

Connor Kelley
April 6, 2015

Well said, Donna! I'm so glad to see someone writing about this show on the site. As a Christian, an accounting major, and a big Better Call Saul fan, the metaphor of ledgers of guilt and debits of sin had an almost zen-like effect when I read it. It's pretty rare when all of those worlds collide!

I've been catching up on Better Call Saul over the past couple days, and I've been noticing quite a few explicit Biblical references that I don't recall being present in the dialogue of Breaking Bad. They tend to be in the form of quips or jokes, but always strike me as being purposeful. It makes me wonder if Gilligan and his writers are using those references to subtly conjure the feeling of a religious type of guilt (as you mention) that Jimmy's struggling with. That might be a little far-fetched, but I've heard Gilligan say he was raised Catholic, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he's drawing upon some of his upbringing here, consciously or not.

It seems to me (as of episode six at least) that Jimmy's arc is beginning to mirror Walt's quite a bit; they're both becoming another person (Heisenberg and Saul) but where Walt had greed and ambition Jimmy has guilt and reluctance. I don't know if you could say that they both had a "fall from grace" as Walt's hubris and Jimmy's deceitfulness are both well established parts of their personalities, but they do seem to be following a similar path. I think it's kind of cool that there are already such strong thematic parallels being formed between the two shows. That may or may not continue to be the case (Mike's expanded role and his profound differences from Walt have me thinking it might not be such neat parallel down the line), but I'm pretty excited to see where the show decides to go with all of this. No matter what, it's just such a great world to be in.

Also if you happen to read this, just wanted to say that I've been loving your reviews over at the A.V. Club! I look forward to reading the rest of them once I finally catch up with the show.

Matt K
February 15, 2016

An Irish kid from Chicago will know a few things about sin and catholic guilt.
I love this show.

Benjamin Glaser
March 14, 2016

This is really excellent. Good stuff.

Lori Conser
April 20, 2017

Thanks for your post. Your comments are dead on. I remember coming to the same conclusion in college after being forced to reading "The Trial" in a world lit class. Without God and His grace, we are all like Jimmy (Saul)--guilty of our own wretchedness when compared to God's perfection. Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Christ Jesus our lord! (Romans 7:24-25a).

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