“Better Call Saul,” the highly anticipated “Breaking Bad” prequel premiered Feb. 8 on AMC with a second episode the following night. Similar to most pilots, it had a wealth of information packed into an hour, including flash-forwards and introductions to characters new and old. Despite this, there is hope it will be more than just a spin-off series.
Set in Albuquerque in 2002, the show provides insight into Saul Goodman’s life before he changed his identity and was just James, aka Jimmy, McGill. McGill, played by Bob Odenkirk, is a struggling lawyer who rents a closet-sized space in the back of a salon that doubles as a studio apartment and an office. He tells customers it is a temporary space until the painting is done at his actual office.
McGill spends long hours at the courthouse as a public defender but still struggles to support himself and his older brother Chuck McGill, played by Michael McKean, who suffers from a mysterious illness that makes him intolerant of all forms of electromagnetism.
When two local skaters try to scam Jimmy by skating in front of his car and getting hit, he realizes their potential to help him gain a pair of clients who have recently been charged for embezzlement. A few unexpected turns in his plan lead him to the front door of none other than one of Walter White’s first foes, Tuco Salamanca, played by Raymond Cruz, who greets him at gunpoint.
The writing and production of “Better Call Saul” echo its predecessor’s and offer a sense of familiarity for the viewers, but Odenkirk’s acting along with a unique plot seem strong enough to carry the show out of the shadow of “Breaking Bad.”
The first two episodes provide hints of how McGill’s character will develop, and it may just be enough to keep both fans of “Breaking Bad” and new viewers tuning in every Monday at 10 p.m.