Tonight on Better Call Saul – How ‘Breaking Bad’ is it?

by Jon Lachonis / February 8, 2015
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With the escapades of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman forever in the rear view, AMC wil be taking fans of Breaking Bad back in time to explore the genesis of one the series’ most beloved characters Saul Goodman with Better Call Saul. The year is 2002, and Saul (Bob Odenkirk) isn’t Saul, he’s Jimmy McGill, but don’t worry; Jimmy is as Saul as ever.

Declared a ‘prequel’ by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, Better Call Saul possesses much of the plotting proclivities of its progenitor. To sum it up: Better Call Saul echos the moral ambiguity of Breaking perfectly and like Breaking Bad has an engaging cast of characters that immediately demand loyalty from the audience and evoke a strong desire to join them in their respective Journeys.

No question about it: this is Odenkirk’s show, and his slimy yet suave Saul persona is front and center but with an intriguing layer of earnest that was missing from the hyperbolic and cynical version we came to know through Breaking Bad. Where Saul was resourceful Jimmy is struggling to establish his brand as an attorney, walking in the shadow of his more successful Attorney brother Chuck (Michael McKean).

The good news for fans is this: if you reveled in Saul’s escapades before, here you get to see not only more of the same but the sinuous plotting of Breaking Bad applied directly to Saul. Many were skeptical that Better Call Saul as prequel couldn’t work. Spin-off, maybe, but prequel? That implies a degree of brand similarity that rises above ‘Spin Offs’. The good news is, Better Call Saul, with principle members of the Breaking Bad creative crew—including Vince Gilligan—manning the writers room, delivers.

Since we know Saul’s destiny to a point, it’s not a spoiler to say that Better Call Saul is NOT Jimmy’s break bad. That said, it’s not a huge leap to say that Saul was responsible for much of the framework that facilitated Walter White’s break.  Better Call Saul explores the transition of Jimmy to Saul, as well as the building of that framework.  Tune in tonight at 10pm on AMC for the first half of the Better Call Saul premiere event which concludes tomorrow with part 2 at 10pm.

Jon Lachonis Jon's writing has appeared on CraveOnline, BuddyTV, and numerous other online publications. He is a charter member of the Broadcast Television Journalist's Associations (BTJA), the organization behind the Critic's Choice Awards. Follow him on twitter @DocArzt friend him on Facebook and Plus him on Google+