When Vince Gilligan’s cult series Breaking Bad came to a wrap in 2013, fans all over the world went into post-finale depression. Between Walt’s wackiness, Jesse’s chemistry skills and Hank’s minerals, it was hard to imagine a world of television without this excellent cast of characters. Lucky for fans, it wasn’t time to say goodbye to Albuquerque just yet.
Better Call Saul is Gilligan’s latest project and sees Walt’s sketchy lawyer, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), get his own spotlight. The series, released in Ireland on February 9th, is set six years before Goodman’s connection to Walt and Jesse and coincidentally we are reintroduced to a very different man.
The Saul Goodman audiences knew and loved was a crafty go-getter, more than able to get his clients out of the most dire situations. What we see here is a struggling lawyer named James or “Jimmy” McGill battling with moral judgements and the injustice of undeserving success.
On initial viewing, the show may give the deception that the stimulating plot of the former series left with its ending. A painstaking amount of time in the first episode is spent focusing on McGill’s character quirks and monologues. However, as the second and third episode reveal this slow burning start is essential for a full throttle shift.
It’s only early days, but the stomach-churning tension and suspense so central to Breaking Bad has already reared its head in the spin-off. In the second episode the audience witness McGill make himself a bargain that can only end badly. Additionally, much to the delight of original fans, familiar faces like the steely Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and psychotic Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz) make an appearance.
Any concern that Gilligan’s new series is milking a franchise that’s over is irrelevant; a major proponent of what made Breaking Bad so great was the depth and detail that went into every character, no matter how minor the role. Just like Saul, each character has a story that no amount of screen time could be enough.
The spin-off has already been confirmed for a second season and Odenkirk himself has said that he “could see it playing past [Breaking Bad].” Such speculations are yet to be confirmed, but based on initial reception the prediction doesn’t seem unlikely. What can be confirmed is that Gilligan has made a terrific comeback and Odenkirk a stellar performance.
The deserts and people of Albuquerque have not failed to captivate us once again.