After ending one of the most critically acclaimed, universally loved drama series ever with its best season and a finale that pleased almost everyone, it would have been very easy for the creators of Breaking Bad to disappear to a tropical island on the SS Crystal Blue Persuasion.
Instead, they decided to stay in Albequerque and run the clock back a few years for another origin story: not how Walter White became Heisenberg, but how downtrodden public defender Jimmy McGill became flamboyant “CRIMINAL lawyer” Saul Goodman.
I have to admit that my hopes for this show were not very high. I expected it to be good, because I don’t think Vince Gilligan knows how to make bad TV, but I underestimated just how much of Breaking Bad’s panache and visual flair and skill for zagging where a zig would have sufficed would make it over to the new series, Better Call Saul.
After only five episodes, it’s too soon to say this show is as good as Breaking Bad, but they’re so good it’s also too soon to say that it’s not. Bob Odenkirk is adding more and more shades to the character of Jimmy McGill – who we know will one day change his name – giving flashes of the character we knew and loved on Breaking Bad but keeping it mostly under wraps, like he’s still wriggling out of his cocoon.
The knock on a show like this is that since it’s a prequel, we know that Saul is never going to get killed or even seriously injured, so there’s no way the show can truly be surprising or unpredictable in the way that Breaking Bad was. That makes perfect sense, but I can tell you that each and every one of the first five episodes has genuinely surprised me in one way or another, and I am looking forward to the next surprise.
New episodes of Better Call Saul air Monday nights at 10pm on AMC.