One week ago started the “Breaking Bad” spin-off “Better Call Saul” on AMC and the German Netflix. It tells the story of the rising lawyer Saul Goodman whos journey starts in the year 2002. In legal trouble? Better don’t call Jimmy McGill!
Saul Goodman was always good for a joke in the ground breaking TV series “Breaking Bad”. In the spin-off “Better Call Saul” on the other hand we get to see the other side of the later successful lawyer, the side of a desperate man named Jimmy McGill.
The story starts in the year 2002, six years before a chemistry teacher later known as Heisenberg decides to cook meth to support his family. In the beginning of Jimmy’s journey you see a lot of parallels to the story of Walter White. He also started as a loser who is on the inside generally a good person and decent man. But soon he recognizes that being good and decent doesn’t make you earn a living and let you be a successful lawyer.
The first time he becomes dirty he tries to scam a family from who he knows that they have money. The mission failed in the end and through a twist of fate he gets to know the “Breaking Bad” villain Tuco. For me the scene in the desert with Tuco was the first time I got the great (great?) feeling back of watching “Breaking Bad”. This emotional state of feeling uncomfortable and excited at the same time. In the first two episodes of “Better Call Saul” you generally see a lot of little hints of “Breaking Bad” like some appearences of famous characters, Mike Ehrmantraut for example.
Also in the aesthetics and photography Vince Gilligan remains true to himself. His closeup view of the faces or the setting of the same looking suburbs of Albuquerque will remind you a lot of “Breaking Bad”.
So could you say that “Better Call” Saul is just a rip-off of “Breaking Bad”? No, you can not! Because the spin-off does not destroy the original, it tells a story from a totally different perspective and actor Bob Odenkirk gives his character a new deepness. His life story may even be considered more tragic than Walter White’s. Because at least Walter had a family who supported him (at some point). Jimmy on the other hand has nobody but himself, a tiny office and a friend/mentor whos mental state still has to be clarified.
We think that “Better Call Saul” has the potential of being something special. It opens up a totally new world that not only consists of variations of the conflicts of “Breaking Bad”. Sometimes you even catch yourself hoping that Jimmy’s alias Saul’s future does not end like in the finale episode of “Breaking Bad”. That maybe he goes towards a brighter and better future.