I was intrigued, though not necessarily enthused, by the idea of a Breaking Bad spinoff. After all, why mess with a good thing? I didn’t want the Breaking Bad universe to be tarnished by a botched attempt to keep the good times rolling.
The more I found out about Better Call Saul, the more I came around to the idea. Even though Saul Goodman was the kind of character that you could describe as seasoning – something that adds flavor, but can ruin a dish if you use too much – he was believable enough that it was possible he could carry his own show. The key to success, though, was making Better Call Saul a prequel.
Saul is not Saul yet, he’s Jimmy. He’s a struggling lawyer who runs a lot of scams. He’s yet to ascend (descend?) to the level of criminality we saw from him in Breaking Bad. And besides, he always seemed like a guy who was more greedy than evil. Walt was evil, not greedy. He was in it for the thrill and the power, not the money. Saul was always, always in it for the money.
The first episode of Better Call Saul was rough for me. I have a short attention span, and it has a running time of 53 minutes. With commercials. OK, OK – that’s not so bad. But there was a lot – I mean a lot – of exposition in that first episode. They lost me in the setup. I was straight-up BORED.
But I try to never judge a show by its pilot, and I appreciated that the writers needed to set up this new world. They had to introduce us to Jimmy, his situation, his friends and family. So I agreed to give it a few more episodes. The second episode was much more entertaining. The third episode hooked me.
Better Call Saul is not as twisted or violent as Breaking Bad, but has that same dark sense of humor. It also takes intrigue out of the equation. We already know how Saul’s story ends, so this show is more about the journey than the destination. It’s about hijinks (which I love) and how Jimmy eventually becomes Saul.