Monday nights are hard. It’s the first workday after the weekend and then we just want to fall into a series that surprises us enough to make us forget it’s another 4 days until the next weekend. And for me personally: a series that gives me an excuse to not think of the unfinished laundry just yet. Better Call Saul, the spinoff of Breaking Bad, is just that, But why watch a series that is a prequel where you know how it’s going to end? Well, let me tell you why. Minor spoilers on both series.
Lawyers in action
The show is about one of the characters in Breaking Bad, but years before that series takes place. The Saul you’d better call is Saul Goodman. But before he became Saul Goodman, criminal lawyer (both meanings of the word), he was a bright eyed younger lawyer called Jams (or Jimmy) McGill. And he worked hard to become a lawyer, just like his big brother Chuck (Charles). And his best friend, a woman named Kim Wexler, is also a lawyer. And he works with lots of other lawyers at his brother’s firm. So, if all is that good, what’s up?
Well, lawyers are also just people. Chuck feels Jimmy might be unsuited to be a lawyer. He has an inferior law degree and as his brother, Chuck knows Jimmy’s past antics. Chuck also has an issue where he is allergic to electricity. Jimmy is the one who goes out and gets groceries and supplies for Chuck, who can’t leave his house. And this is just the odd brother-relationship. There is more.
Bad guy or good guy
I like Jimmy, you know. I get the feeling he’s not necessarily an evil bad guy, or even just bad or opportunistic. He seems to be a product of his childhood and the world around him. That is what makes him an interesting character. He is one of the most well-rounded characters I have ever seen in a tv series. In Better Call Saul he tries, and makes mistakes, and he’s always just trying to stay afloat. But he does love to manipulate people and he is good at that. That’s the funny thing: in real life, I’d stay away from people like Jimmy. I think.
But we know how Jimmy ends up: as the questionable lawyer who knows how to exploit loopholes and find ways to launder money, Saul Goodman. In Breaking Bad we also follow the downfall of a man. But Jimmy/Saul already starts out as a man with questionable morals. And we know how he is going to end up. There are even some scenes of Jimmy, where we see what happened to him after the last episode of the original series. And still, still we are curious.
Prequel as good as original
Spinoffs don’t always succeed. Sometimes is succeeds very well – which I can say as a Star Trek fan, with loads of new series in the same universe. Or look at Marvel’s films and series. But it doesn’t always happen for series that don’t have this huge shared universe to draw on. And Breaking Bad was so good, that it seemed any spinoff would have a hard time. But Better Call Saul succeeds in being on the same level as, or maybe even surpassing, its parent. I think it’s because Bob Odenkirk is a great actor, who brings a tragic-comedic twist to Jimmy/Saul. And the rest of the cast is equally skilled. Putting that together with a great script and using imagery to help tell the story: it’s the complete package.
But why should you watch this? Obviously, you should watch Better Call Saul if you’ve seen Breaking Bad. You don’t be disappointed. And even though this series is about crime, it’s not a particularly gory or scary series. In fact, I think people who are used to fast paced crime shows are probably going to be bored. But if you enjoy figuring out the relationships between people, and why people do what they do, this could be something you enjoy. You’ll know after the first episode if this is for you or not. Give it a go.