‘Better Call Saul’ begins promisingly
Adam Ramos | Thursday, February 12, 2015
Anyone lucky enough to witness Vince Gilligan’s television mastery of “Breaking Bad” may have mixed feelings about the startup of Gilligan’s new show, “Better Call Saul.” On one hand, my inner self is ecstatic to gobble down anything Gilligan. On the other hand, the thought of a mediocre spin-off soiling the memory of my thrill ride through the five ground breaking seasons of “Breaking Bad” is painful to say the least. Thankfully, after the premiere of the show’s first two episodes Sunday and Monday night, we may not have much to worry about.
“Better Call Saul” surrounds Saul Goodman, the intrinsically shady attorney of Walter White. Bob Odenkirk enters Gilligan’s chaotic world once again to star as the down-on-his-luck, but lovable, attorney. The series is defined as spin-off, prequel and sequel to “Breaking Bad,” as it will overlap with much of its predecessor.
Odenkirk has already ran into some other “Breaking Bad” cast mates in the show, including Jonathan Banks as the forceful Mike Ehrmantraut and the terrifyingly insane “Tuco Salamanca” as played by Raymond Cruz. The possibility of more familiar faces appearing as the show progresses is certainly appealing.
The very first episode, appropriately titled “Uno,” begins where “Breaking Bad” left off, with a black-and-white overview of Saul’s bleak life after his identity change. The newly-mustached Saul miserably scrapes by at a local Cinnabon, desperately clinging on to his past life through an old VHS tape of his signature cheesy commercials. The opening scene sets a clear tone for the show: Saul is no longer a one-dimensional character.
Gilligan then flashes back to a young struggling Goodman, or rather Jimmy McGill, as he has yet to accept the Saul Goodman moniker. The first episode raises as many questions as it answers about McGill’s background as well as adamantly pushing McGill’s financially troubled state. The episode ends with a hair-pulling cliffhanger so signature of “Breaking Bad.” With an astounding 6.9 million viewers on the premiere episode, “Better Call Saul” is already making waves, and it’s deserved. Critics have been chiming in, assuring that Gilligan’s new show will stand on its own as the impressive spin-off it is.
The second episode of the series, “Mijo,” wastes no time, transitioning right into action as McGill finds himself in an extremely tense and entertaining position. Forced to talk his way out of certain death, McGill uses his gift with words at the hands of a familiar “Breaking Bad” drug lord, Tuco Salamanca.
“You have got a mouth on you” echoes Tuco as Saul’s gift with rhetoric already establishes itself as a main staple for the new show. Many have wondered if Saul Goodman is a complex enough character to carry the show the way Bryan Cranston’s Walter White carried “Breaking Bad.” The second episode confirms Odenkirk has the potential. Where White was resourceful, ingenious and cunning, Goodman is persuasive with almost hypnotic rhetoric. Coupled with Gilligan’s top-level writing and producing, Odenkirk will likely generate another impressive series.
“Better Call Saul” will not simply be a “Breaking Bad” 2.0. Where Cranston brought a very serious air to his show, Odenkirk brings a much more flippant and even funny aspect to his. “Better Call Saul” already seems to be a bit less emotionally draining, and to be a bit more watchable than its predecessor. Furthermore, the masterful cinematography, which cemented “Breaking Bad” as a television classic, is already extremely prevalent in the new show.
Don’t be afraid to check out “Better Call Saul” Monday nights at 10 p.m. on AMC. I mean, it is Vince Gilligan we are talking about after all.