Review: Better Call Saul (2015)
Finally, the new BREAKING BAD spin-off series BETTER CALL SAUL, about the unconventional lawyer Saul Goodman is out. AMC´s production with ex Saturday Night Live member Bob Odenkirk was amongst the hottest and most anticipated shows since the last season of GAME OF THRONES and now, the critics and fans opinions are widely different.
But one thing is already certain: The fact that Vince Gilligian decided to end his hit show BREAKING BAD last year after only five seasons was a very smart move because it kept the fans waiting and screaming for more and ending that show at its peak instead of letting it fade away into darkness is a thing that only great director´s are able to do. I know this is a silly comparison, but I will never forget how much I loved SCRUBS until after the fourth season and then, the following seasons killed off the vibe for good. If they just ended it there after season 4, the show would have always been remembered as the great show that it was before it got sour.
Now, the same applies for BREAKING BAD, which will always keep a beloved spot in my heart and despite the fact that AMC produced this spin-off series, I am fairly certain that Vince Gilligan has higher ambitions with BETTER CALL SAUL than to just milk that BREAKING BAD COW some more. You know, despite what some may have thought, BETTER CALL SAUL starts rather slowly, quietly, for the sake of good storytelling.
The first Episodes UNO and MICHO are slow introduction of the character Saul Goodman. And I don´t mean the character Saul Goodman that we know from Breaking Bad, but how he got there from being an ambitious and righteous lawyer to the one we know and love from from his fresh and witty performance in BREAKING BAD. The Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad is more about Fun and Games than real personal drama. And so far, Odenkirk´s portrayal in BETTER CALL SAUL is exactly that… A broke person, ridden with frustration and anger trying to figure out a way to survive and him coming to terms with who he actually is. I mean, you can sense Odenkirk´s great potential for humor everywhere beside the lines and there are some really great dialogues in the first couple of episodes. But yeah, everything is rather slow to give the character “Saul Goodman”, who still goes by his real name Jimmy McGill, the introduction that he deserves. The reason that Vince Gilligan is such a talented writer is mainly because he shows his characters as real people with a solid background and without any superficial clichés. The first three episodes shout out the word “drama” because they show Saul Goodman struggling as an honest lawyer while trying to make a living. And despite his constant efforts, it just won´t work. It´s like the world is against him somehow, and then out of a sudden, he just seems to say “screw this shit, I´m going home” and does what every corrupt lawyer, police officer or judge would do in that situation. He crosses over to the “dark side”. But not really, because that´s actually one of Gilligan´s strengths. He shows his Character with a lot of good will and despite him trying to bend the law whenever and wherever he can, it´s not all black and white. The character Saul Goodman on BREAKING BAD only worked because deep under that great amount of filth and corruption, Saul is actually a good person. And that´s what makes or breaks a character. Personally, I like THIS Saul Goodman aka Jimmy McGill very much. Really, praise to Bob Odenkirk for his acting, because he´s actually the cornerstone of the series. And the longer the series runs, the better it got for me.
At first, the first BETTER CALL SAUL Episode UNO was kinda disappointing to me. But mainly because I expected something entirely different. I expected the show to take off exactly where BREAKING BAD ended and the more I thought about that, the more I got convinced that Vince Gilligan has higher plans with BETTER CALL SAUL than to just take the easy route by making BREAKING BAD WITH A LAWYER. I mean, Yes, this show has a different vibe and it´s kinda slow, but please critics, PLEASE, give it the time to introduce the characters before you rip this apart for having a proper introduction for its characters. There are little crumbles and sprinkles of BREAKING BAD every now and then, and the number of known faces and interesting storylines get´s higher by the episode, but please don´t judge about this without having seen at least half a season because this is actually supposed to be more than just a rip-off. In the next episodes, we are supposed to learn more about the background of Michael Mando as Nacho Vargas, who later runs into trouble with Walther White and Jessy because he´s that batshit crazy paranoid meth head. And I am really looking forward to see him reprise his role again very much. But I LOVE seeing Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, who I think will be one of the hidden aces of BETTER CALL SAUL. In the first episodes, you barely see him, but I guess his role comes more in the foreground later on during the first season and that´s actually a good thing. I am pretty sure that Bank´s will help BETTER CALL SAUL to reach momentum because the more we see him, the more I know how much I have missed him. Odenkirk alone is great, but he needs strong characters to interact with. And yeah, they don´t just pop out of the back of an ice cream truck and scream “Baddabing here comes bonanza!”. That´s actually not how proper writing works and I totally praise Gilligan for not taking the easy route.
Now, let´s write a little bit about the technical aspects of the show. The great sound mixing from BREAKING BAD is back and I am really looking forward to seeing more about that. One of BREAKING BAD´S strengths was the Score and despite the fact that there aren´t as many songs to be heard as in BREAKING BAD, I can totally feel how much Gilligan and his team value the importance of choosing songs that actually fit into what´s going on in the scenes. So yeah, the sound is great. Same as the acting and I guess we just need to give this show a little bit more time to get everything started. Personally, I took a while to get used to BREAKING BAD and though I kinda liked it up to the third season, it wasn´t until season four that I totally fell in love with it. So yeah, I understand everyone who is trashing the show now, but you really need to work on your expectations and give this show more time. I totally liked it, but the vibe of the first two episodes was kinda sad… but I am sure that will change because it was just necessary to give this character a believable background. WANT MORE NOW!
If I would have to rate this show now, I´d give it around 75%, but I feel like it´s not fair to rate it until I´ve seen at least half a season. So yeah, won´t rate this now.
Episode 1 UNO
Episode 2 MIJO
Episode 3 NACHO
Episode 4 Hero
Episode 5 JELLO