All things in their own time. When I began subscribing to Netflix early last year, one of the shows I was keen to watch was Better Call Saul, as I’d spent several months of the year prior watching DVD box-sets of Breaking Bad. which was, per unanimous opinion, pretty great, and I was naturally interested in seeing the spin-off show. Never got around to it until now, though, and probably only now because the recent El Camino movie got me back on the Breaking Bad wagon. Oh well. All things in their own time, I guess, sums that up, and my perennial habit of being late to every party, but hey, ho.
Of course some things are worth waiting for, and Netflix now has four seasons of Better Call Saul for me to watch over this long dark Winter ahead. Like I did with Breaking Bad, I’m going to watch a season at a time taking breaks of perhaps a month or so in between.
So a plot synopsis feels largely redundant when there are already four seasons out there patiently waiting. After a moody prologue set in a post-Breaking Bad ‘future’ with Saul Goodman in hiding, the first season of the show takes place several years prior to the original show, with Jimmy McGill, a struggling lawyer armed with a law degree from an online school. Jimmy can’t get a break, constantly haunted (and tempted) by a shady con-artist past while struggling to prove himself to his older brother Chuck.
The funny thing about Better Call Saul is that its hard to seperate it from Breaking Bad, the shadow of which hangs over it in some of the familiar faces in the cast and many nods to the show. Its an element of nostalgia that perhaps makes it too easy to like, and makes one wonder ‘am I enjoying this because its so good, or just because its more Breaking Bad?‘ Saul Goodman, after all, was one of my favourite characters in Breaking Bad. I read somewhere that Goodman (played by Bob Odenkirk with remarkable charm and style that betrays the perfect casting) was only originally intended to feature in three episodes of Breaking Bad, and that the character was so good, and the casting clicked so well, that it seemed to demand more importance in the show and a recurring role, eventually becoming a major character. There’s something just irresistible about Saul and its proven again with him in his own show. I think I could watch him filling in a crossword- he’s plenty fun just hosting a game of Bingo.
Of course that Breaking Bad nostalgia is fed by a drip-feed of fan-service, with Saul’s back-story (and that of Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), another character from Breaking Bad, here working as a parking attendant) just adding to the Breaking Bad mythology. Thankfully the series has a life and character of its own and I’m tempted to think it actually informs the original series. The first season ends with Jimmy’s attempts at a legit honest career in the toilet, having come to terms with his true leanings/talent and starting on the path to the shady (okay, criminal) career we are familiar with in Breaking Bad. Along the way there are some great moments, some lovely new characters and relationships and so much promise invested in those seasons to follow I’m having to fight the urge to race into season two.
Might this show actually be as good as Breaking Bad? Hmm. Maybe it could even be better.