It’s not what you think: Vince Gilligan’s spinoff of his game-changing series Breaking Bad is only a spinoff in the technical sense. It doesn’t rely on the story of Walter White for cheap momentum and ratings, or sap too heavily from the surviving cast for ratings-boosting cameos. In fact, you don’t even really need to have seen any of Breaking Bad to enjoy Better Call Saul, although you might miss some clever foreshadowing. The show is just another example of the immense talent of Gilligan and his team of television geniuses: they made a perfect show once and, believe it or not, are on track to do it again.
Bob Odenkirk stars in the series, which premiered February 8th, as Jimmy McGill; don’t worry, he’s still Saul Goodman, but this series takes place a few years before Walt’s story really began, when Saul still went by his real name. It’s a hilarious narrative that’s not quite as dark as the often-macabre Breaking Bad but retains a suggestion of serious consequence to keep the viewer coming back for more. And Odenkirk himself has some intense, side-splitting and truthful moments, giving fans a glimpse of a more complex Saul Goodman.
The team behind AMC’s production is great at setting up a shot to be used later in the episode, or even the series—a curiously dented trashcan in the foreground, a mailbox full of batteries, dangling phone on a payphone cord. The genius of this cinematographic pattern is that it draws the viewer in even closer to the art of the televised narrative, examining each detail and dialogue closely for hints and Easter eggs.
I can’t express how excited I am that the show is evolving so successfully, so I’ll let you all imagine me squealing with joy in my chair on Monday nights at 10:00. I know now that there is life beyond Breaking Bad for us Walter White enthusiasts. Better Call Saul shows that the world of law can be just as interesting as the world of crime.