Jimmy McGill adopted many tacky roles in Better Call Saul, but his time as Cinnabon Gene was about more than just tacking icing onto cinnamon buns.
The Cinnabon Gene scenes in Better Call Saul might be remembered most for their distinctive black-and-white style, but there is much more to Jimmy McGill’s Cinnabon job than meets the eye. Better Call Saul ended its six-season run as arguably the greatest spinoff series ever aired, and joined its predecessor, Breaking Bad, in the pantheon of all-time TV greats. While Saul Goodman’s origin story managed to distinguish itself from the origin story of Walter White’s Heisenberg, Better Call Saul also shared many of its greatest strengths with Breaking Bad.
Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad both benefited from strong writing and performances, along with quirkier similarities like a penchant for unconventional cinematography. The acclaimed AMC originals utilized symbolism effectively too; Walt transforming into Heisenberg is shown through clothes in Breaking Bad. In Better Call Saul, Gene’s Cinnabon scenes showed a different kind of transformation. While Jimmy adopted many tacky roles in Better Call Saul, his time as Cinnabon Gene was about more than just icing cinnamon buns.
Gene’s Cinnabon Job In Better Call Saul Is Deeper Than You Realize
In its first scene, Better Call Saul drew a direct comparison between Walt and Jimmy through the latter’s post-Breaking Bad job. Whereas Walt was meticulously cooking meth in Breaking Bad, Gene was shown “cooking” something highly addictive, but more delicious, in his Better Call Saul cinnamon bun scenes. The juxtaposition of their respective cooking processes highlighted the characters’ similarities. Cooking meth and baking cinnamon buns marked new phases in their lives, and the reasoning and motives behind each man’s steely determination to succeed were not markedly different. Walt’s seemingly noble desire to leave a financial cushion for his family was a lie – just like Jimmy trying to be Gene.
One of Breaking Bad’s greatest twists was the slow burn reveal that Walter White was never worthy of redemption. Fittingly, one of the long-running questions through Better Call Saul’s run was whether Jimmy McGill would also fail to find redemption, as “Gene” continuously relapsed into criminal activity with increasingly higher stakes and consequences. Jimmy’s incognito Cinnabon scenes kept things ambiguous, and it is not a coincidence that Gene’s Better Call Saul mustache and glasses transformed him into a dead ringer for Walter White himself. Not only were their respective workflows similar, Jimmy came to physically resemble Walt.
Why Jimmy Actually Cared About His Cinnabon Job
When Walt became truly evil in Breaking Bad, he eagerly embraced it. Unlike Walt, Jimmy was capable of feeling things like guilt, remorse, and shame. Jimmy’s Better Call Saul story was cyclical; every time he took two steps forward, he would often take one, two, or five steps back. His strong work ethic as Cinnabon Gene exemplified his Sisyphean struggle to break free from breaking bad. Jimmy was doing as well as someone could do in that kind of predicament, and he knew the risks of deviating from the cover of his normalized day-to-day routine – yet eventually blew it after getting restless.
The literal reasons why Jimmy was working at a Cinnabon in Omaha are obvious. However, his Cinnabon Gene days were much more meaningful than just hiding from the law, drawing comparison between Saul Goodman and Walter White. Both antiheroes may have been criminals in Albuquerque, but Cinnabon Gene’s fate also proves he was about as different from Heisenberg as cinnamon buns are to methamphetamines. Even though Cinnabon Gene was not Jimmy’s final redemption in Better Call Saul, it did lead him there eventually.