OK, so…I am way behind on Better Call Saul. I do not have a good reason for that. I was and am a huge Breaking Bad fan. I was psyched to see it when it came out, but my ex-wife and I had just cut the cable and couldn’t watch it right away. Later on, the first season hit Netflix, I did start watching it. That came around not long after my ex-wife moved out, but for reasons I could not understand, she came for visits and hung around my place a few times after that, and she started watching it on my Netflix account from the beginning even though I had already seen a few episodes. That made me wary that I would have to watch a lot of episodes of TV that I had already seen, and I have reached a point where I rarely if ever want to watch stuff more than once unless I am chatting something up with Jimmy. So, I stopped watching, and her visits didn’t last more than two or three such stops.
Point is, I fell off the bandwagon not long after I tried to climb on, but now that the show is coming to a close, it might be time to finally catch up.
And really, this show opened with a great pilot. I think it helps that creator Vince Gilligan already had Breaking Bad under his belt, and he knew what he had to do in order to get this show just right with a similar tone while telling a completely different story.
That’s brought home in the opening minutes where the episode opts to catch up a bit with Saul Goodman (the returning Bob Odenkirk) as his life is after Breaking Bad. To put it bluntly, it sucks. He’s a manager of a Cinnabon in Omaha, his life a largely dreary routine even if he thinks that suspicious-looking guy is out to get him. Said guy isn’t, but in a dialogue free opening, the only speech comes from a videotape Saul plays when he gets home from work, the only color the reflection of said programming seen as reflections of his glasses. And what is he watching? His old TV commercials.
See, that’s effective.
From there, it goes back to the days before Saul met Walter White. He wasn’t Saul Goodman back then. He was using his real name: Jimmy McGill, a down-on-his-luck lawyer whose best efforts to keep three idiot teenagers out of jail fail miserably because there’s video of them screwing a manikin’s head. Jimmy’s life is going nowhere fast. His office is in the backroom of a beauty salon. His bills are overdue. His brother Chuck (Michael McKean!) is the founder of a big time law firm that keeps trying to pay him despite the fact Chuck believes he suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity that won’t go near any sort of electrical device.
That bit suggests young Jimmy has some integrity. The firm is sending the check to Jimmy in his name, and Jimmy could certainly use the money. But he refuses to take it because that would set up a paper trail when Jimmy believes Chuck should cash out, something he won’t be able to do if he is still on the payroll. Granted, Chuck believes he will go back to work even as he sits in a dark house while working away on a manual typewriter. Jimmy may represent Chuck’s best interest, but Chuck doesn’t see it that way.
Then again, Jimmy gets no respect from anyone, not the parking lot attendant who happens to be MIke Ehrmatraut (Jonathan Banks, also returning), from potential clients who go to Chuck’s old firm when they are accused of embezzlement, and not even from Chuck since Chuck doesn’t think Jimmy should practice law under his own name because of the firm.
Then a pair of skateboarding twins try to scam Jimmy using a trick where they make it look like Jimmy ran one over. It doesn’t work because Jimmy used to pull the same scams as a kid, something that suggests he ain’t so honest after all. But it does mean Jimmy can work with the twins to try and get those embezzlers to hire him anyway with the right scam.
Small problem: the brothers scam the wrong person, an old woman who seems to speak no English. And when Jimmy catches up, well, the house seems to belong to one Tuco Salmanca.
Yeah, that’s a good hook to end an episode.