On both Sunday and Monday night, “Breaking Bad” fans and newbies alike flipped television channels to AMC to tune into “Better Call Saul,” the BB spin-off series we have all been waiting for. Vince Gilligan’s previous masterpiece left many wondering what he was going to do next, and he most certainly did not disappoint. “Better Call Saul” focuses on the cheesy criminal lawyer, Saul Goodman, from Gilligan’s original “Breaking Bad.” However, this is not simply a prequel/sequel to the story. Gilligan plans on panning this show out ranging from before Goodman’s run-in with Heisenberg all the way to afterwards. If you have not seen all of Breaking Bad or the first two episodes of Better Call Saul, I would stop reading now. While I won’t be intentionally spoiling anything, there will be things I touch on in each episode that could spoil your viewing pleasure. While I’ve not been the best with scheduling, my plan is to write each week with an article succeeding each episode, so stay tuned (Editor’s Note: David makes plans for the sole purpose of breaking them at a later date).
Without further ado, we shall venture into both the first and second episodes.
Episode 1: “Uno”
How freaking amazing was that cold open? I was so unsure of what was really happening concerning the timeline, but as soon as the realization swept over me, I was flooded with so many emotions. It was kind of a bit of closure for my “Breaking Bad” needs. Yes, I loved BB, but this cold open sort of shut the door nice-and-easy on Walt and Jesse. “That’s over, now let’s move on to bigger and better things,” I felt it was saying. Anyway, let’s actually get into this bad boy.
We see a post-Walt Saul, but for the remainder of the episode, we’re transported back to a time in which Saul was not really all that good at this whole lawyer gig. Granted, he had a real messed up trio (Really, Vince? Necrophilia of an old cadaver?), but I still thought he’d maybe wrangle up a big “W” on his scorecard. Ah, well. But we also learned that we’re not actually dealing with Saul Goodman.
So, who is Jimmy McGill, and what has he done with our lovable criminal lawyer?
We’re used to seeing Bob Odenkirk as the man with all the answers. You need money laundered? He’s your man. Want to know the best way to get out of manslaughter? Got it covered. But who we are introduced to in this spin-off is someone very different. This is a vulnerable man with ambitions, visible flaws, and a real crappy life. We see a man at rock bottom who is set off by the smallest things, such as being overcharged by an annoying toll booth operator (*fangirl scream*).
We’re looking at the life of Jimmy McGill slowly changing into Saul Goodman. Is this not reminiscent of anything to anyone? Perhaps this would remind you of Walter White’s transformation from innocent high school teacher to meth kingpin Heisenberg. There were so many Breaking Bad nuggets in the show that I couldn’t help but laugh the entire time from pure nostalgia. “The day of reckoning is here,” Jimmy McGill yells at Chuck, which is eerily similar to Saul yelling at Walt in his office. And how about the ending? Tuco? Really? I kinda felt like that was forced just to give Breaking Bad fanboys a little nudge, but hey, you do you, Vince.
It may have been the nostalgia talking, but I loved this episode. With that being said, it’s still really too early to tell what kind of show this is going to be. The first episode of Breaking Bad was good, but we had no idea where Vince was taking the characters. We very well could have a similar case on our hands here. Let’s move on to the second episode discussion.
Episode 2: “Mijo”
“It’s showtime, folks!” Jimmy McGill AKA Saul Goodman
Cinematography-buffs, you all should rejoice when you see the name “Michelle MacLaren” pop up on screen. She directed a number of Breaking Bad episodes, including a few of my favorites, “4 Days Out” and “Gliding Over All.” There were some genuinely beautiful scenes (namely the bar scene and the final court scenes) in last night’s episode that really make you marvel at her mind.
Pairing with Gilligan on Breaking Bad, she was responsible for scenes such as this beauty from “Gliding Over All”:
Enough about our lovely director of “Mijo.” Are there any Dexter fans out there? Didn’t that cold open remind you of a Dexter title sequence? I loved it. The episode starts in the Tuco-household minutes before the brothers decide to punk Tuco’s “abuelita.” We continue to see the way that he cares for his family above all else, just like with his uncle, Hector Salamanca, in Breaking Bad. Ah, so we’re seeing a little bit of a human side to this maniac?
For the majority of this episode, I couldn’t help but think that Vince is trying to show us that these two brothers are going to be the Jesse Pinkmans of the show, and I was distraught. Fortunately, and a few broken legs later, I do not think we have to worry about that. There was no connecting to those characters. Part of me hoped that Tuco would follow through with the killings, but alas, Saul (er, Jimmy?) showed his compassionate side that really set things straight, both for the lives of the brothers, as well as our protagonist’s. We saw that moment as the pivotal point in which the beginnings of the scheming Saul Goodman developed.
Who the heck is this Chuck guy? He seems to be some form of mentor to Jimmy, but we don’t really know much more than a few facts: he’s a partner at Hamlin Hamlin & McGill, he’s crazy, he likes space blankets, and, have I mentioned that he’s crazy? I think when he’s finally gone, we’ll see the Saul we know and love. But maybe that’s just my hopeful imagination.
What more can we expect from this series? It’s really tough to say this early on. Critics are still buzzing in the best way possible about the show, and I can only hope that’s good sign for Vince and the gang. Join me next week as I discuss the next episode!