When we first heard the rumours of a Breaking Bad spin off in the form of Better Call Saul there were mixed, somewhat bittersweet, feelings amongst fans. Nobody expects this to be another BB, there’s no question about that, in fact it’s doubtful a lot of the die-hard fans of the series would expect anything like that from any future show ever again on the small screen. Instead this could go one of two ways – either it would be the Frasier to BB’s Cheers or it would be the Joey to BB’s Friends. So would it be better to Call Saul or Call it a day on this BB franchise?
Nearly 500 days after the astonishing conclusion of one of the most critically acclaimed TV shows of the 21st century, fans of AMC’s chemically addictive drama are welcomed back into the world of Breaking Bad by a loveable, familiar face in the shape of Saul Goodman. Or not quite yet as it seems this character, by the name of Jimmy McGill, is a much less obnoxious and a slightly primitive from of the man we’ve seen bend more rules than HSBC’s Swiss private bankers.
As ‘Uno’ opens we’re introduced to a man who is devoid of colour, devoid of personality and fearful of strange faces at the Nebraskan Cinnabon that he is employed by. As with many of the quirky opening sequences with it’s predecessor, we’re not quite sure when this is taking place in relation to the life we know he is capable of leading. After overhearing the iconic Better Call Saul adverts that once introduced the loveable lawyer it’s confirmed that this segment is indeed in the future of this prequel’s world.
Moving deeper into the episode and the penny-pinching reality of a desperate man starts to paint a picture of how McGill will eventually evolve into the self-seeking Saul that we adore. Between taking seemingly unwinnable cases as a public defendant, McGill is also caught up in a lawsuit that could have the ultimate score if he can beat the odds stacked against him.
The episode moves at a brisk pace with plenty of dark humour scattered throughout to keep viewers entertained and intrigued with events in Goodman’s world. In a quiet place such as this the characters need to be flawless, what made BB so popular besides it’s leading duo were the host of varied personalities that occupied their universe, take Gus Fring, Skinny Pete & Todd as examples.
Here, we know one memorable face already as Mike Ehrmantraut an experienced man with many Liam Neeson-esque ‘skills’. Seen only briefly as a parking attendant we know he will have a bigger role to play in coming episodes. The most exciting new characters appear in the form of redheaded twin skaters, who have a knack for getting run over. Saul sees potential in them and so will audiences.
Ultimately, this is just a teaser for what we can expect in the first run of Vince Gilligan’s new show. We aren’t expecting another Walter White shaped rollercoaster but the stakes are high for this drama and a lot of that weight will fall on the shoulders of Bob Odenkirk who by the way is flawless in this opening edition of the series.
At this stage, we can happily report that it’s Saul far Saul Goodman.
NB: Oh and just one more thing, if any of our Swedish readers over in Helsinki can help me Finnish translating this I’d love to hear from you.