Everybody’s Talking About Saul
So here it is at last: one of the most highly anticipated television series of the year, the spin-off from the generation-defining smash hit Breaking Bad. Its hefty premiere became the biggest in cable history, drawing 4.4 million and 4 million in the 18–49 and 25–54 demographics respectively, and received an overall viewership of 6.9 million. Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould will probably own our Tuesdays from now on; make us eager to Netflix our asses off and dive into the Saul Goodman prequel — namely Better Call Saul.
Better Caul Saul is currently rated 9.4 on IMDB-masterpiece with Bob Odenkirk starring 95% of the time even enchants people like me: a lousy TV-watcher doomed with a chronically restless disorder that enables me to follow at max 1 series/year, otherwise I’ll mix up the characters. But the Better Call Saul-syndrome has created an infatuation so addictive, that even a number equal to the entire population of Ireland is eager to watch. Why is that?
This series is a dramedy about Albuquerque’s lowest link in the lawyer chain, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) and features the many aspects of how life can be as a struggling go-getter. Better Call Saul has undoubtedly inherited the same beauty-genetics as Gilligan’s previous success Breaking Bad, and it is reminiscent of an equally organic setting. First of all, we have to praise the playful camera angles and the dedication to establishing interesting, unusual shots. The visual trademarks are beautiful, and the touch of musical brilliance — it is not just music ‘because we need a background sound’ — these sounds are carefully selected scales and arpeggios, the presence of which gives us clues to the story and set the mood in certain scenes. However, the multilayered story of Better Call Saul could end up being a totally consistent rip-off with Breaking Bad, but the good news? It is not. We’re in for a wonderful, fresh start of a brand new narrative that has brought the top notch features from its mother, but decides to go in its own way.
Storytellers, pay attention.
The pilot does a great job of clean-slating Breaking Bad and letting Odenkirk build his character. Odenkirk plays a man trying to do the right thing, yet utterly failing at the same time. Odenkirk’s character is in a constant attempt to make his a living as a successful lawyer, forced to take on cases that others reject. Alongside this, his internal combat and conflicting interests with his brother who is suffering from a mysterious-some-sort-of-electromagnetic-hypersensitivity-illness put immense emotional pressure on him.
We’re all Saul.
We know it ourselves and we can feel… compassion? Or is it compliance? This guy does not drive a Bentley (far from, as he throws himself into a pale Suzuki Esteem with the complexion of an old taxicab that seems to have been left in the Mexican desert for 10 years), and he most certainly did not go to an Ivy League school, but his wittiness and his sharp tongue makes him a champion for sketchy downmarket clients. Odenkirk makes a perfect portrayal of a sleazy lawyer with an office in the boiler room of an Asian nail salon with a framed copy of his MA in Political Science from University of American Samoa (whatever that is) on the wall, but nonetheless, he is very good at his job. He is totally fearless, careless and versed in law, and above that — in a constant quest for his identity. With that said, he is an irresistible character that even business students and other lethals can relate to. His desperate manner evokes both laughter and pity, but he is also a dreamer, an enthusiast, and surprisingly bitter — qualities that we know one day will fuck the world over.
The writing is witty, dark, and sometimes absurd.
In the second episode (spoiler alert!), there is a scene where Tuco (whom you might remember from the first season of Breaking Bad) will tries to kill Saul (or at least sever a limb), but we all know that Saul will not die this early in the series. What we don’t know though, is that how Saul will be mentally damaged over the series. What unfolds here, and within the entire show, is a masterclass in show-burning tension. The scenes are jumping between frightening darkness to laugh-out-loud absurdities, and it is highly liberating. It makes the show not being just another mediocre next-door comedy show, but a complex, high class humorist and bizarre framework in which occasional funny moments are intertwined with powerful drama.
This movement from one emotion to the other could, with a lack of skills, be a highway to a 5% disaster at Rotten Tomatoes. But Gould and his skilful writing brings it to the next level. It is a goddamn chef d’oeuvre in balancing hairpin atmospheric turns so perfectly fine. It is a little bit like real life, after all. We cry, we laugh and we face difficulties in pursuit of our long-life happiness, and the turns take usually incredibly fast.
Finally, the expectations for this piece were over the roof, and it was an eschew conclusion that meeting those expectations would be next to impossible. Well, the good news, judging from the first episodes, ‘Better Call Saul’ will be good. Just how good remains to be seen, but as far as promises go with this lawyer that is dodgier than his clients, the first blueprints are big ones.