Saul Goodman, fast talking lawyer from Breaking Bad, was not always the Saul that made AMC’s hit show so compelling. In fact, at one point he wasn’t Saul at all. Enter Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk reprising his Breaking Bad role) bumbling attorney with his father’s success looming over his head. I was skeptical about the potential for this spin off because Breaking Bad, without a doubt, is one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) show to grace modern TV screens. It was a show as addicting as it’s subject matter, I doubt you are reading this if you haven’t seen Breaking Bad but even if you haven’t, by now, most everyone knows of Walter White’s foray into the dark world of meth and the gangs that run it.
After the Sunday/Monday night premier of Better Caul Saul, I feel like the showrunners are on the right track to recapturing the manic brilliance that was Breaking Bad; no small feat, I assure you. Breaking Bad excelled in two different facets: 1) it was an extremely concise show: producers, directors and the stars themselves knew that Walter White had and expiration date from day one. That’s simply the nature of a show whose main character receives a terminal cancer diagnosis in episode one. They were smart to make Better Call Saul a prequel; Jimmy McGill, much like Walt before him, has a limited life span. We’ll see how that unfolds and how many seasons they can wring out of it (my bet is 2, 3 tops.)
The other area Breaking Bad triumphed was in making Walter White an “everyman.” Season after season we tuned in to see Walt repeatedly commit felony’s and eventually tear people apart (figuratively and litteraly,) but we still rooted for him. He was fighting for his family’s wellbeing, something admirable, even if he didn’t do it in the most admirable (or ethical) of ways. Tearing away the swagger and influence that Saul exuded in his original run is a great place to start. Right off the bat we are shown a real person struggling with real problems. Someone who is willing to fight for what they want.
I am really glad Mr. Odenkirk (who began as a standup comedian) is finally getting a starring role and with it a chance to display the full range of his talents. On a final note, the return of gangster-who-loves-his-family Tuco (Raymond Cruz), especially his sequence in the desert, was pure Breaking Bad awesomeness. It was the perfect touch to remind us that things never change in Albuquerque, New Mexico.