*Warning: This contains spoilers about Better Call Saul Season 6, Episode 11 “Breaking Bad”*
Better Call Saul has always felt like an open world where even the most ostensibly inconsequential characters can come in and slightly rework the fabric of the show’s intricately woven story. For example, a cab driver named Jeff appears as a silent creep who spooks Gene Takovic (Bob Odenkirk) in the Season 4 premiere episode “Smoke” disappears from the screen and our minds for the remainder of the season. He then reappears in the Season 5 premiere “Magic Man” as a conniving trickster looking to blackmail Gene by threatening to out his true identity as Saul Goodman. Now, the character initially played by We Own The City‘s Don Harvey before being replaced in Season 6 by Station 19‘s Pat Healy has influenced more in recent episodes “Nitty” and “Breaking Bad” than central characters like Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), and Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). And now it looks like the series will end with a new character debuting with Walter White-esque influence.
The third to last episode of the Better Call Saul series, aptly titled “Breaking Bad,” is highlighted by the much-anticipated return of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). But, it’s one of Gene’s identity theft victims we meet in the last 20 minutes of the episode that is positioned to have a bigger impact on the end of Better Call Saul than the drug dealing duo who introduced us to Saul in the first place. Kevin Sussman plays an unknown meager business person who Gene and Jeff ply with alcohol and barbiturates as part of their string of cons designed to knock their victims unconscious so one of Gene’s nefarious associates named Buddy (Max Bickelhaup) can sneak into their homes to secretly snap photos of their credit cards and personal identification to sell to a willing third party.
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Sussman’s unnamed character is an unspectacular plot device helping Gene dive deeper into his old criminal proclivities as means to make back the fortune he discovers the federal government seized in their criminal case against White at the end of Breaking Bad. Then, he digests an assortment of pills before informing Gene, duplicitously acting as Victor, that he has cancer. It’s that revelation that fans the faint embers of the compassionate Jimmy McGill still inside of Gene as he questions if Sussman’s character should be drinking more alcohol. He asks this even though that same consumption is critical to Gene’s robbery scheme. But, as is typical in Better Call Saul‘s subversive storytelling, it’s that same revelation that brings back Gene’s memory of how much of an asshole a cancer-riddled Walter White was, an experience he uses to try and convince Buddy to rob the guy after the henchman is reluctant to steal from a man with cancer.
By the end of the episode, Gene decides to attempt the robbery himself, blinded by the desperate pursuit to return to the opulence of his past. A preview of the penultimate episode appears to show police approaching Sussman’s character’s home, hinting at the unnamed person living with cancer either directly or indirectly bringing Gene in close contact with law enforcement and potentially one step closer to the prison sentence he’s been evading for the entirety of the Better Call Saul run.
Where do I know Kevin Sussman from?
If Sussman’s somber everyman portrayal of the unnamed cancer victim looks familiar, it’s because you’ve likely laughed at his loneliness. The 51-year-old actor is best known as The Big Bang Theory’s failed comic book artist and depressingly single dimwit Stuart Bloom, who once word vomited a revelation about his clinical depression while trying to attract a woman. Sussman appeared in 84 of the show’s 279 episodes, including the series finale episode “Stockholm Syndrome,” where Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette’s (Melissa Rauch) daughter Halley lost a tooth after she fell (more like laughingly rolled down) down the stairs under his supervision.
Most recently, Sussman appeared on Hulu’s Emmy-nominated true story drama The Dropout as Theranos’ neurotic lab director Mark Roessler who helped the investigation into the company before (stupidly) deleting incriminating emails between him and Theranos management. The last we saw of Mark was being replaced as lab director with a dermatologist, and there was no sign of if he was still with the living.
Before television, Sussman made his name on the silver screen as quirky fan Lenny in Almost Famous, wisecracking divorce papers delivery man in Burn After Reading, and Mac Bailey, one-half of an assassin couple in the 2010 film Killers. Outside of Big Bang Theory, Sussman has mostly played side characters who provide enough scene-grabbing moments to leave an impression. However, seeing how his unnamed Better Call Saul role plays out, Sussman will be on your mind as the critically-acclaimed series nears its end.
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