Better Call Saul 1×01 ‘Uno’: Even Saul Goodman rehearses in front of a mirror

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Breaking Bad fans rejoice! The eagerly anticipated spin-off of the immensely popular AMC show that we’re still suffering the loss of has finally premiered. Saul Goodman, the sleazy lawyer that Bob Odenkirk so expertly portrayed in Breaking Bad now has his own show that’s all about him. These first few episodes are going to be crucial in determining whether or not Better Call Saul will be sticking around for the foreseeable future, so let’s not waste anytime and get right into it.

As was the tendency with Breaking Bad, this first episode of Better Call Saul starts off with a mysterious pre-title sequence of Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman) working at a Cinnabon shop somewhere that is not New Mexico. The end of the sequence shows Jimmy watching his own Saul Goodman advertisements, which could mean that this scene is after the events of Breaking Bad. But of course there’s no confirmation of this and the rest of the episode takes place before Jimmy becomes Saul Goodman.

The show is set in good old New Mexico which we have become so familiar with thanks to Breaking Bad. This first episode sets a very unsettling tone right off the bat with a case of three teenage boys doing sexual things to a head of a dead body (yeah, there’s a reason why this show is on at 10 o’clock at night). It’s a nice little warning of what to expect from the rest of the show and will most likely weed out viewers with fragile dispositions. I have a feeling it’s going to be a bit darker than Breaking Bad in the sense that there will be more chances to see the more horrible sides of human nature due to Jimmy’s line of work. Plus this time slot allows for a bit more grisliness than earlier ones.

AMC

AMC

It’s extremely evident from this first episode that Bob Odenkirk is going to own this show. It’s really interesting to see Saul Goodman, a character most of us already know, in his days when he’s just Jimmy McGill (so for that reason I shall call him Jimmy throughout my reviews until he in fact becomes Saul Goodman), and Bob Odenkirk completely inhabits the role. My favorite moment is in the beginning when everyone’s waiting for him to come back into the court room while he’s rehearsing his final statement in the men’s bathroom. His rehearsal pays off because Jimmy is certainly a man of words and is very good at making those words sound as persuasive as humanly possible. Bob Odenkirk plays Jimmy with the perfect amount of fake confidence and I can’t wait to see how the development of his character is going to play out.

It’s no surprise that the production value of the show is extremely good. It’s obvious that a lot of thought has been put into the direction and into creating the general style of the show. One could say that the directing lacks some subtleties (the obvious stylistic choices stand out a bit much in some instances), but it doesn’t take too much away from the final product. I do almost wish that the pre-title scene wasn’t in there though, and that it just started with Jimmy and the courtroom scene. It takes a little away from being able to fully take in and enjoy the present storyline since now most of us can’t help but keep thinking about where that pre-title scene falls in the whole timeline of both shows. It’s certainly not a make-or-break detail for so early on in the show, just one that could have an affect on how the writers decide to carry on to further seasons (because I assume it will be picked up for a second one).

AMC

AMC

Another little treat for Breaking Bad fans is that we meet Mike (Saul’s right hand man as he will become) right near the beginning. It’s a nice tie-in and gives fans something to look forward to, specifically what incident will cause the two of them to start working together. But the most important scene of this first episode (in terms of character development) is the scene between Jimmy and his older brother Chuck (it’s actually not really clear what their relationship is in the episode, I had to look it up). It reveals Jimmy’s desperation and his general impatience in terms of earning money. Chuck is a partner in a large firm but had to take a leave of absence due to health issues (and it seems that Jimmy is skeptical that he will get better), so money isn’t exactly flowing in for the both of them. Family tension is always a good way to instill drama and grab viewers attention, and it looks like that this relationship is going to become vital in the decisions that Jimmy will make that will lead him to become Saul Goodman.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger but fortunately the second episode airs tonight so we don’t have to wait long to see how Jimmy will weasel his way out of the volatile situation he’s gotten himself into (and the fate of the two skaters who he partnered up with to make some fast cash). It’s a very good first episode in terms of establishing tone and characters, but I think the second episode will reveal the shows true potential, so let’s hope it keeps its momentum going.

Sarah Lord

is a college student in New York City. Her extreme knowledge of British comedians and TV shows almost surpasses her general love for film. When she’s not sitting in her apartment/nerd cave reviewing movies and TV shows, she sometimes makes time for long walks in the moonlight. Check her out on YouTube, Twitter and Tumblr as TheSplord.

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