Better Call Saul‘s premiere episode, Uno, has arrived. It is a weird piece of perversity. Throughout watching the first two seasons of Breaking Bad (watched only recently, and we are still finishing off the final season, so I hope there are no spoilers in Better Call Saul) (OR IN THE COMMENTS), I was struck by the idea that Breaking Bad was secretly a sitcom. Sure, it’s a dark and violent drama, but, especially in the first two years, it was stealthily comic. Two bumbling and mismatched partners in over their heads. Law enforcement officers with suspects they can’t detect right under their noses. A hapless husband keeping secrets from his wife and going through ridiculous machinations to maintain those secrets. It’s all classic sitcom fodder, and it struck me as apropos that a former sitcom star played Walter White.
Saul Goodman was always a somewhat comic character in Breaking Bad, so you have to wonder how that would play on his own show. Better Call Saul has the hyperkinetic energy that Saul Goodman himself always displayed, the broad strokes, the—I’ll say it again—perversity of the character. It’s a fun and twisted ride, although I hope it calms down some.
We start with a post-Breaking Bad Saul in hiding, living in Nebraska, balding, mustachioed, a black-and-white existence as a Cinnabon manager. He longs to be Saul Goodman again, and so the flashbacks (and our prequel) begin.
When Saul met Walter White, he claimed he was an Irishman, and indeed, when we return to his past, he’s Jimmy McGill. A struggling lawyer doing his best by disgusting clients in need of a Public Defender, broke beyond reckoning and driving the world’s shittiest car, everything about him speaks of his frustrations and struggle, from his miniscule office in the back of a Korean nail salon, to the smoke pouring out the back of his Suzuki Esteem. He wants, wants, wants, and does not have.
And then we discover that Jimmy McGill is somehow profoundly disenfranchised. His (brother?) Chuck is a (crazy? disabled? delusional?) lawyer of fabulous wealth, a founding partner of a major law firm. He’s worth millions but has nothing, while Jimmy’s efforts to fight for them both are thwarted at every turn, not least by Chuck himself. Jimmy knows everyone at HHM (Hsomething Hamlin and McGill), and seems to have a past relationship with a woman there, but then there’s that shitty car and that nail salon.
We meet Mike Ehrmantraut, and the shock ending (SPOILER!) gives us the true beginnings of Saul Goodman in the person of Tuco Salamanca, the crazed meth dealer from Season 1 of Breaking Bad. Tuco’s appearance gives us a sense of where this series will go, reviving dead and gone characters and letting them get more flesh, while introducing new characters (like Chuck) so that it won’t feel like just a rehash. Damn, this could be good. Let’s face it, the greatness of Breaking Bad was in its characters, so bringing back a few (or many) can’t hurt. However, I do hope we see more of the new characters as well. I’m a big fan of the skateboarding twins.
- Esquire explores the details of that nasty car.
- The skateboards are Cal and Lars played by Daniel Spenser Levine and Steven Levine.
- We know from later on in Breaking Bad that Saul buys that nail salon.
What did you think, Basketcases?