Whether you supported Walter White’s endeavors or cheered his death, the end of Breaking Bad broke your heart. As it is with any TV show you’ve come to love, it was difficult to part ways with Heisenberg and the cast of characters around him. No other running show can duplicate the quiet intensity of writer Vince Gilligan’s masterful creation. Luckily for Breaking Bad fans everywhere, he and co-writer Peter Gould have offered up a remedy for the crystal blue hangover.
Better Call Saul debuted in early February, and follows the trials and tribulations of the shady but well-meaning criminal lawyer Saul Goodman. In relation to its parent series—Better Call Saul is a prequel to Breaking Bad—we meet our title character before the advent of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, and before Saul Goodman himself. Saul’s real name, we learn, is Jimmy McGill. Jimmy is a struggling criminal lawyer with far less to his name and much more of a daily struggle on his hands.
Spinoffs don’t often live up to the expectations they are naturally given, as they usually fail to recreate the same magic the original show had. Considering Better Call Saul was originally meant to be a comedic show with more of a sitcom feel—in stark contrast to the serious world of Breaking Bad—the show’s conception was a risk from the get-go.
But Better Call Saul set aside any and all doubts when it brought in a basic cable premier record of 6.9 million viewers. So far, the show has received nothing but positive reviews, boasting a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and 9.3/10 stars on IMDb.com.
Bob Odenkirk portrays his character exactly as he did in Breaking Bad, exuding a certain authenticity about his less than legal activity, creating the charming, likeable character that is Saul Goodman. The show feels very much like a part of the Breaking Bad world, as a result of both Gilligan’s unique use of camera angles and perspectives, as well as the time-hopping story line that provides just enough insight and backstory to keep viewers guessing.
Also, much to the delight of diehard Breaking Bad fans, Better Call Saul quickly brought back some of the most dynamic characters from its parent show, namely Mike Ehrmantraut and the always dangerous, ever volatile, Tuco Salamanca. The familiarity of recurring characters mixed with the mystery of a fresh slate of plotline possibilities is working well for the show, offering a whole new world of dramatic endeavors to characters built for exactly that kind of world.
Newcomer characters like Nacho Varga and Kim Wexler fit perfectly into Saul’s world. Nacho is introduced as Tuco’s right hand man, but obviously has intentions of his own, which undoubtedly will involve Saul. As for Kim, anyone who has a past with Saul Goodman has to have one or two character flaws of their own.
If you’ve been on the fence about embracing Better Call Saul, all signs indicate you should go ahead and hop it. The cinematic feel of the show could fool you into thinking Breaking Bad never ended, and the rich cast of new characters will make you happy it did, giving way to this brilliant spinoff. And who knows, you might like it even better considering the series’ protagonist is someone you can root for without calling your morals into question.
By MATTHEW SIMONS / Sports Editor