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Hector Salamanca’s Breaking Bad Backstory Revealed In Better Call Saul

Hector Salamanca was first introduced in Breaking Bad as Tuco’s ailing uncle. Thanks to Better Call Saul, the character received a suitable backstory.

Hector Salamanca played a key role in Breaking Bad, but details surrounding the Hector Salamanca Breaking Bad backstory weren’t revealed until Better Call Saul. Hector Salamanca, portrayed by Mark Margolis, made his Breaking Bad debut in season 2 as Tuco’s (Raymond Cruz) ailing uncle. Hector went on to play a more prominent role, especially in the demise of Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito).

Tuco brought Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) to his hideout in the desert, which is where the pair first met Hector. Having suffered a stroke, the old man could only communicate by ringing a bell equipped to his wheelchair. Walt tried to poison Tuco’s burrito but Hector repeatedly hit his bell to warn his nephew, revealing that his mind was still sharp. Hector raised Tuco and his other nephews, Marco and Leonel (also known as the Cousins), to be high-ranking members in the cartel. Due to Hector’s rivalry with Gus, all of his nephews were murdered. Hector decided he had enough so he orchestrated Gus’ murder with Walt by attaching a bomb to his wheelchair. He sacrificed himself in the process but Hector was successful in killing his longtime enemy.


Related: How Nacho Put Hector Salamanca In A Wheelchair

Through Breaking Bad flashbacks, viewers learned that Hector was a member of the Juárez Cartel. He was working for Don Eladio (Steven Bauer) during the time Gus entered the cartel. Don Eladio hosted a meeting between all parties to discuss the future of the cartel, but he wasn’t pleased with how Gus and his partner, Max Arciniega (James Martinez), did their business. Hector shot and killed Max, jumpstarting Gus’ hatred toward the Salamanca Breaking Bad family. More of Hector’s backstory was unveiled in Better Call Saul flashbacks, filling in the gaps of the drug kingpin’s earlier life.

Hector Salamanca Was Using An Ice Cream Shop As A Front In The Mid-Nineties

Better Call Saul

In the mid-’90s, Hector decided to expand the Salamanca Breaking Bad cartel’s reach into the United States by using an ice cream shop as a front for drug trading. Don Eladio wasn’t impressed and it made matters worse when Hector found out that Breaking Bad‘s Gus Fring was growing closer to the cartel boss. Gus was clearly trying to edge out Hector but Don Eladio was blind to the man’s ulterior motives.

Hector was present in Better Call Saul‘s primary timeline beginning in season 2. After Tuco was arrested for assaulting Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), Hector tried to smooth things over. He offered Mike money to change his testimony in order to reduce Tuco’s charges. Mike initially refused even after Hector sent his henchman to intimidate him. The situation changed when the Cousins were sent to threaten the life of Mike’s young granddaughter. Mike then accepted Hector’s request but bumped the payout to $50,000.

As an act of revenge, Mike attacked one of the ice cream trucks that was delivering money to Hector across the border. He also whipped up a plan to assassinate Hector but his plan was thwarted by the never-to-be-underestimated Gus Fring. Hector and Gus were still at odds and the latter had intentions of taking over the control of the drugs crossing the border. As Hector was focused on his feud with Gus, he didn’t realize that one of his closest allies was becoming a major threat.

Related: Better Call Saul Death Explains 2 Gus Fring Breaking Bad Murders

Hector’s Disability Came From Gus Fring’s Act Of Revenge

So what happened to Hector Salamanca that led to his condition in Breaking Bad? Hector needed a new endeavor to serve as a front for his drug operations so he set his sights on Nacho’s (Michael Mando) father who ran an upholstery business. Nacho wasn’t pleased with the idea so he stole some of Hector’s heart medication. He emptied the pill capsules and refilled them with ibuprofen, which could increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The spiked pills finally worked during a drug cartel meeting. Hector suffered a stroke but Gus saved him by using CPR.

In Better Call Saul season 4, Gus hired a specialist from Johns Hopkins to care for Hector. After learning that Hector could potentially walk and speak again, he discontinued Hector’s therapy to trap him in his current state. Nacho was also forced into working for Gus as he was aware of his attempt to kill Hector. With nobody to care for Hector, he was sent to the nursing home, Casa Tranquila. This is where he received the bell which he would use as his main form of communication as seen in Breaking Bad.

How Hector Salamanca Set Up Better Call Saul’s Final Season

Better Call Saul Hector Lalo Salamanca

As Hector Salamanca’s Breaking Bad role clearly illustrates, he’s far from finished after Gus manages to keep him seemingly incapacitated in the nursing home. In fact, even throughout the latter seasons of Better Call Saul, Hector continues to wage war against Gus to such an extent that he ends up shaping much of Better Call Saul season 6. Determined to convince the rest of the cartel and Don Eladio that Gus was behind the attack that “killed” Lalo Salamanca in the season 6 mid-season finale, Hector effectively covers for his nephew and continues to conspire against Gus. Both of these actions support key plot points in the latter half of Better Call Saul season 6. Breaking Bad viewers already know how Gus and Hector’s story ends, but Better Call Saul dives into even greater detail about just how long Hector has been working to get his revenge.

How Hector’s Backstory Makes His Breaking Bad Revenge Sweeter

Hector Salamanca in Better Call Saul Season 6

Ultimately, Hector Salamanca was able to take down Gus Fring in Breaking Bad precisely because of what Gus had done to him in his backstory, as shown in Better Call Saul. Gus Fring severely underestimated Hector after ensuring that his rival would remain disabled for the rest of his life, which allowed the latter to take revenge without Gus ever suspecting it. The bomb hidden in Hector’s wheelchair was an effective way to kill Gus because of Hector’s deceptively frail state and Gus’ role in Hector needing a chair at all — both of which only fed Gus’ uncharacteristic complacency and hubris when it came to Hector. By showcasing more of how Gus and Hector ended up in their Breaking Bad roles and elaborating on how Gus had caused Hector’s downfall, Better Call Saul managed to add even more gravitas to an already iconic moment.

More: Gus Fring’s Backstory Tease Could Set Up Breaking Bad’s Next Spinoff

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