The episode opens in a Cinnabon store where we meet the man who used to be Saul Goodman some years after Breaking Bad. Following the finale of Breaking Bad, Saul Goodman went into hiding and he is shown to be the manager of a Cinnabon in Nebraska. Saul seems to still be worried that someone will either recognise him or come and get him after his involvement with Walter White. The present day is not too much of a focus in this spin-off as it doesn’t take too long for Saul to reminisce over the days that have passed by. A visually upset Saul watches a video of his old commercials when the episode abruptly cuts to 2002 where we begin our story of a very different man. Starting in a courtroom, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk, before he became Saul Goodman) is hired to defend three teenagers who have done a rather disgusting crime and his attempt to defend them is thrown out after a simple video is shown of the incident. Jimmy McGill is very unhappy with his job as a defence lawyer and also hates the amount of money he earns from his job. The first meeting between “Saul” and Mike Ehrmantraut is rather humorous as he tries to leave a car park and Mike shows he always used to stick close to his job as he is the parking attendant who tries to enforce procedure.
Jimmy McGill gets potential clients to represent as he meets the Kettlemans. They seem unimpressed with Jimmy and he tries desperately to win over the clients. He looks to order flowers for the Kettlemans when he gets caught in a con and knows to work his way out of it (Twin brothers Cal and Lars). The joke about the worth of his car is brilliant. His office is not yet the one we know where he films his many videos and did his business with Jesse and Walt, here it is a little room in a beauty salon where he has a desk, phone and very little else. Things seem desperate for Jimmy until he finds a cheque in his mail for the sum of $26,000, which he tears up. The check comes from the law firm his brother works for, so he goes to their offices to see them where he invades a meeting. It seems his brother is unable to work properly as they seem to be paying Jimmy to give the money to his brother Chuck. He becomes angry when he sees the Kettlemans going to the law firm.
Jimmy later visits his brother Chuck, Chuck believes he has Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity and so has no electronic devices in his house, instead keeping a typewriter and lanterns in the home. Jimmy tries to convince Chuck to cash out of his firm and take the money as they are going broke. Chuck refuses and argues with Jimmy saying that he will get better and go back to work. Chuck instead suggests that Jimmy should change his name to make the firm happy which makes Jimmy really upset. Jimmy then decides to make a partnership with two twin brothers that he met earlier to help make some money and create protégés with his tales of how he started with “slip and falls”. He looks to get one of the brothers “hit” and see about making an easy few grand. He looks to set up Betsy Kettleman, for he wants revenge for her not taking his services. The plan goes into action but the driver doesn’t leave the car and in fact drives away from the scene. The twins arrive at the house of a lady who parks her car, the car that hit one of them. The lady is not Betsy, but a Hispanic woman who knows little English. Jimmy races to where the twins have gone and arrives at the house of the woman, finding their skateboards and helmets. Jimmy finds a gun to his head, the man holding the gun is Tuco Salamanca! Yes, the man who first distributed drugs for Walter White returns and looks set to kill Jimmy.
Better Call Saul makes for a great start. Bob Odenkirk effortlessly steps back into his shoes and becomes Jimmy McGill as he starts his journey to becoming Saul Goodman. The introduction of the main characters is done easily and effectively. We find out Jimmy McGill is his real name, he will do anything for money and is ready to fight anyone. Although only brief, Jonathan Banks makes a great scene as Mike and his altercation with Jimmy is only the start of what is to come. With other cast members thrown in and little information shown on them yet, the biggest highlight had to be seeing Raymond Cruz as he returned to the role of Tuco. This show had a lot of humour, but the humour never outweighs the drama or tense moments which occur in the opening episode. The cold opens which we were used to in Breaking Bad also seem to be back and it’s a nice link to see where Saul has gone to and how he started his career as a “Criminal Lawyer”. The script is tight and well-acted throughout. Hopefully we expand beyond Odenkirk and learn more about the cast in the next episode, but I am intrigued to see his progression and when he and Mike start working together. Vince Gilligan has another hit on his hands here and I look forward to watching episode two!
Final Rating: 8.5/10
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove