The series premiere of Better Call Saul showed us that this show is going to stand out on its own and soon, we will probably forget that this is a prequel to Breaking Bad, it feels like it will be that good, all within the scope of the brain-scape of Vince Gilligan.
Well, it will stand out on its own that is, except for the introduction of some characters we already knew, during the telling of the premiere episode.
There will be Better Call Saul spoilers involved in the telling of this recap.
When Better Call Saul (BCS) opens, we see Saul in a mustache and working a crap job in a fast food joint. His name is now Gene and he’s the manager of a Cinnabon in Omaha of all places. We see him go home and turn on the TV, cycling through the late night infomercials. We then watch him pull out a secreted VHS tape and start watching an over and over on the tape, and all we hear is the tag line, Better Call Saul!
The entire opening was in black and white, conveying the mundane and only after we hear the catch phrase, does any color enter the scenes. It almost sneaks in and you don’t realize it happened.
It then that we realize that this show, though being a prequel, showed us just what has happened to Saul in the aftermath of Walter White’s exploits as Saul has squirreled himself away in a bland kind of job where he can blend into society, while hiding out from who ever.
NOW we skip back several years to see how it all began as a starving lawyer, a public defender, struggling to make ends meet and to get his first client.
It is here that we see him defending three teens from getting caught having cut the head off a corpse and having sex with it… and that his name is Jimmy McGill and his “law offices” is a storage closet in the back of a nail salon.
Yea… nothing says desperate better than this setup for the show.
But don’t worry, things get better. Thought better is a subjective term, depending on what end of the word you’re on.
He has a potential client interview but he loses them to a grander scheme of theirs, while he’s also representing his brother in a case against a larger law firm.
Later Jimmy sees that the same couple that walked away from him earlier, is there looking to hire lawyers.
Then Jimmy concocts a scheme where he hires some street con artists to stage an accident with the wife, where she ends up hitting a pedestrian.
But it all goes south (OK, what’s new in the land of Gilligan) when the wife’s car hits the skateboarding con artist then takes off. Saul… I mean Jimmy tracks the car down parked at a different house than where the wife lives and when he knocks on the door, he finds himself facing the barrel of a gun wielded by none other than Tuco Salamanca!!!
End scene for the first of the two episode premiere.
BCS is classic Gilligan with overly long quiet scenes that verge on tension or boredom, peppered with fascinating camera angles and explosive action moments that sometimes scares the crap out of you.
Like Walter White, Jimmy’s gains are peppered or smothered with some pretty bad luck, so there’s no real getting ahead of the game. Sounds like life on a grander stage of the show.
OH, and Tuco was not the first Breaking Bad alum we met. Earlier while Jimmy was leaving court, he did not have enough validation stamps to get out of the court parking garage. And so he’s told to either pay the three dollars or go get another stamp, by none other than the non-plussed Mike Ehrmantraut. YAY! Mike’s back… sort of, if you can use the term back in a prequel.
Up until the premiere I was worried about this show. It had a rough start where at one point they apparently scrapped the entire pilot and went into emergency rewrite mode, then it had a delayed premiere date.
Normally when this stuff happens to a TV project, there’s good reason and usually the fix is not that much better. But I’m guessing that Gilligan just wasn’t feeling it the first time around and wanted to do this right rather than however it was.
Good job Mr. Gilligan. Good job. I will definitely be tuning in to follow Jimmy’s exploits because I can’t wait to see when he first adopts his “Saul” moniker.
What did you think of this first half of the premiere? The second half takes place Monday night. And that puts it up against some heavy hitters on basic channels like Castle and State of Affairs. For this show to last, I think it will need to be on a different night, and unless AMC has some grand plan, it may fit nicely on Sunday nights, where the gloom of Jimmy’s life still seems better than the lead-in doom of a zombie apocalypse.
As it stands, I can’t wait to catch Gilligan’s other new show coming up, called Battle Creek.