Uno - Series Premiere
Flashforward – Opening in classic black and white Gilligan gives us an insight into the life of Saul Goodman post-Heisenberg years. Keeping up a job as a baker for bakery chain Cinnabon in a regular looking American mall. Juxtapose this image with that of Breaking Bad‘s Saul Goodman, bent criminal lawyer with a keen eye for the green Franklin’s, and Gilligan masterfully makes a victim out of Saul. We feel sorry for him in his lonely, fearful life and this opening sets the stage for the creation of that image. We’ve seen the Saul Goodman story. Now it’s the turn of James ‘Jimmy’ M. McGill, criminal at law.
Jimmy’s desperate life as an Albuquerque public defender, as a lawyer with dreams, as con artist gone straight, has an aptitude for persuasion. Unfortunately for him his loqaucious efforts are wasted on three “knucklehead” teenagers who nurse, and acted on, a perverted fetish for cadavers. Representing spotty teenagers who had sex with a head isn’t exactly living the dream but someone has to do it and Jimmy knows that all too well. If he doesn’t get out of the game soon he’ll be running his desperate show from a boiler room the rest of his life.
When prospective clients Craig and Betsy Kettleman return Jimmy’s call his fortunes appear to be turning. Under investigation for embezzling $1.6 million Jimmy tries to pre-empt their need for legal counsel and land himself a healthy legal bill. But the Kettleman’s see the desperation through Jimmy’s confident charade and opt to sleep on it. Eventually turning out to be code for, find a ‘flashier’ lawyer.
Hatching his plan for revenge Jimmy informally hires two amatuer con artists to get in the Kettleman’s good books and secure their business. Proving to be a car crash of a scam, pardon the pun, we’re introduced to our second, of hopefully, a number of returning characters from Breaking Bad and it turns out to be no less than the crazed Tuco Salamanca. Jimmy and his co-conspirators are in for a rough ride as the episode cuts out and leaves us waiting for the next episode at gun point. Alongside Tuco, Mike Ehrmantraut appears to be a heavy feature of Gilligan’s plans.
Quote of the episode – “Discreet, like a stripper pole in a Mosque.” – Jimmy. Eluding to the comedic verse we’ve come to expect from Breaking Bad‘s Saul Goodman, Gilligan reminds viewers why we fell in love with his character way back in episode eight of series two, also titled ‘Better Call Saul.’
One more thing from this first episode, the cinematography. One of the chief talking points about Breaking Bad was it’s stylish use of an array of camera angles, lighting, and editorial time jumps to tell a story. Better Call Saul delivers on this expectation to great effect. Opening in black and white, creating a fresh neon title card with a stern cut to black Better Call Saul promises great things from the start and I can’t wait for the next nine episodes.
If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet then get on it.