Better Call Saul is known for keeping a pretty tight timeline with Breaking Bad. But season 5’s Grand Theft Auto reference created an inconsistency.
Better Call Saul has a cool Grand Theft Auto Easter egg, but the reference also manages to break the franchise’s timeline. The recently concluded fifth season of Better Call Saul was roundly praised by viewers, with some even suggesting the spin-off is close to surpassing its predecessor, Breaking Bad. As with previous seasons, Better Call Saul’s latest run was packed with Easter eggs and references. Some of these were callbacks to its own past (the allusion to Don Eladio’s death, for example), while others were riffs on wider elements of pop culture, such as when Lalo Salamanca mirrors Arthur Fleck’s final line in Joker.
One of Better Call Saul season 5’s best references, however, was its nod to Grand Theft Auto. In “Bagman,” The Cousins walk through a garage that’s clearly a front for the Salamanca drug operation. As they stride menacingly through the parked cars, the 2013 Bravado Banshee from GTAV can be seen to the right of the screen. This car was custom-made as part of a Rockstar games promotional giveaway when the video game was released, and the writing on the windscreen confirms the vehicles are one and the same. The Banshee’s inclusion in Better Call Saul is a neat way of acknowledging the various parallels between the worlds of Breaking Bad and Grand Theft Auto.
While this was undoubtedly a fun Easter egg for fans to spot, the Banshee’s inclusion actually creates a timeline wrinkle for Better Call Saul. As a prequel to Breaking Bad, “Bagman” takes place roughly in mid-2004. The custom Banshee itself wasn’t created until 2013, which is obviously well ahead of Better Call Saul’s season 5 timeline, but the base model for the GTAV custom vehicle wasn’t around in 2004 either. The Banshee was modified from a 2006 Dodge Viper, so assuming the Salamanca family hasn’t mastered time travel, even the car’s foundation is two years too early to be appearing alongside Saul Goodman and co.
As is often the case with TV shows set in the recent past, several props and images from later years have inadvertently sneaked into the early-2000s setting of Better Call Saul. Aside from the Banshee, fans have pointed out shops that shouldn’t exist, films that hadn’t been released, logos that weren’t yet redesigned and other similar anachronisms. This kind of minor slip-up is tricky to counter against, because while it’s easy to take the smartphones and TVs out of Downton Abbey (or it should be, at least), it’s harder to weed out certain models of cars or cellphones that look very similar but actually weren’t around a decade ago, or to film in a location where one shop out of an entire street isn’t supposed to be there.
Even though Better Call Saul might not be 100% period accurate, these mistakes are easily forgiven. Not only are the prequel’s timeline transgressions few and far between, but Better Call Saul’s connections with Breaking Bad are incredibly tight compared to other franchises, and this is what truly counts. The consistencies and crossovers in Vince Gilligan’s world have created a fascinating fictional Albuquerque that blends both shows together in a meaningful and logical way. If Saul’s backstory was wildly different from what fans had seen in Breaking Bad, this would be detrimental to the series, but a Grand Theft Auto Easter egg from the future is much less problematic. Hopefully, spotting these oddities hasn’t ruined Better Call Saul for anyone.