There’s been a hole in Sunday night programming since the end of the Breaking Bad. Vince Gilligan shows that he’s still got a unique story to tell with Better Call Saul and he certainly delivered in the two night premiere this week. Our favorite smarmy lawyer is back but this time we get to see the origins of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) and exactly how he broke bad himself.
The first few scenes seems to paint a bleak picture of what happens to Saul after the events of Breaking Bad. Instead of a job in the meth cooking empire, he’s got a job baking cinnamon rolls for Cinnabon. He’s paranoid and always looking over his shoulder to see if someone is after him. He watches a commercial for his law practice and reminisces about the old day. Those were the good ol’ days.
Before he was Saul Goodman, Saul’s name was James McGill or Jimmy. He was a public defender and although he’s not the most honest lawyer, he works hard. He’s just unable to secure any clients of his own and has a small office/home in the back of a nail shop.
He looks up to his brother, Chuck (Michael McKean), who was a named partner in a big law firm, Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. It’s not exactly clear what happened to him but he’s not really practicing law but living off the grid at his home, in fear of electromagnetism and demands anyone enterting his home to “ground” themselves by placing cell phones and car keys outside.
Jimmy’s been trying to get the firm to give buy his brother out of the firm but they continue to send checks and keep Chuck’s old secretary on the payroll. They say that they’re doing it in hopes that Chuck will get better and return. Even Chuck has that belief but Jimmy is wary that the firm wants to push his brother out slowly without the big payday that he’s owed.
After literally crashing into two twins scammers who tries to cheat Jimmy out of $500 for jumping onto his windshield, he comes up with a scheme to get new business. Mainly the business of a couple whose husband is the County treasurer and been accused of embezzlement. He met with the couple before they decided to go with a bigger law firm, namely HHM, to represent them. The twins screw up and crash into an old lady who happens to the son of one of our first baddies on Breaking Bad, Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz).
He’s sweet to his grandmother but we all know what a menacing force he is. The twins mistakenly call his grandmother “biz-natch” and Tuco shows them exactly how he feels about it. That’s when Jimmy shows up at the front door.
Jimmy does some fancy lawyeringthat seems to sway Tuco into believing him until the tied up twins narc on him. He’s already called up his buddy, Nacho Varga (Michael Mando), to bring by a van so they could take the trio out to the desert but Nacho is pretty smart. Tuco is concerned that Jimmy might be some kind of an FBI agent and in order to prevent his fingers from being cut off Jimmy says that he is. Nacho call his out on the b.s. and asks what business the crew is in so Jimmy recants and says that he’s just a lawyer and that he was trolling for business but there was a case of mistaken identity.
Tuco agrees to let Jimmy go but not the twins. They did call his abuelita “biz-natch” after all. Jimmy can’t stand just walking away and argues the twins case in front of a different kind of judge. He gives Tuco the best argument he can give for not killing them. He talks Tuco down from murder to just breaking one of their legs each, afterwards rushing them both to the hospital and paying for the bill.
Days later, Nacho shows up at his office with a proposition. He plans to ripoff the couple himself and give Jimmy a 10 percent finder’s fee for figuring out where the money is. Jimmy refuses, after all, he’s “a lawyer, not a criminal” but Nacho isn’t willing to take no for an answer just yet. He writes down his number for when Jimmy figures things out.
And there we have the set up for what seems to be the season long arc. In many ways, the show seems familiar to Breaking Bad. The New Mexico scenery, the cast of characters, the thoughtful camera angles and the dark humor but I’m pretty confident that this show will stand on its own. We’ve already seen that Jimmy’s motivation is money and that’s probably what drives him towards the Cinnabon conclusion. I think that’s the thing that worries most fans of Breaking Bad. You know what the conclusion is but the show has proven, at least so far, that the journey there will be an interesting one. Like, how the hell does Mike Erhmantraut (Jonathan Banks) go from being an enforcer at the courthouse parking lot to the fixer we know on Breaking Bad.