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Jake Old: Really enjoying ‘Better Call Saul’

Jake Old • Updated Apr 27, 2017 at 1:00 PM

AMC’s “Better Call Saul” is partially through its third season, and in my eyes, it may already be at the quality of its predecessor, the wildly popular “Breaking Bad.” 

If you’re not familiar with “Breaking Bad,” stop reading this right now and go pull up Netflix and start watching it. Not because I’m going to spoil anything — because I’m not — but because I cannot fathom that there is someone who has somehow not seen that show. That transcends living under a rock to just flagrantly ignoring a cultural touchstone. 

“Better Call Saul” serves as a prequel, focusing on “criminal” attorney Saul Goodman, a side character in “Breaking Bad.” 

I have never been a fan of prequels because no matter how intense the drama gets, you ultimately know how things will be at the end of the story. 

“Better Call Saul” does this a little differently in that it tells the prequel story, but it also jumps ahead to show flashes of life after “Breaking Bad” ends, which is fascinating. I’ve heard there are some people who started with “Better Call Saul” and plan to watch “Breaking Bad” in the future. Because of this time-skipping element, this seems like a bad idea to me. 

Also, there are several characters who exist in “Better Call Saul” who were nowhere in sight throughout “Breaking Bad.” Show runner Vince Gilligan, who is the creative mind behind both shows, confirmed that the two shows exist on a single timeline, and that the events of “Better Call Saul” directly lead into “Breaking Bad.” 

So, I’m watching this show and there are all of these interesting characters and I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Even though I know where things stand at the end of “Breaking Bad,” I’m anxious about how things turn out for these other characters.  

Gilligan played coy in an interview with Chris Hardwick after the season three premiere, saying that the new characters in “Better Call Saul” were perhaps just off screen throughout “Breaking Bad,” as their primary interactions are with Saul Goodman, who was a bit character in “Breaking Bad.” 

The extent to which I enjoy “Better Call Saul” surprises me. When a spinoff was announced, I groaned. It seemed like a cheap cash-in on the popularity of “Breaking Bad.” 

At first, the show was discussed as possibly a 30-minute comedy, where each week focused on a different client seeking the services of Saul Goodman. 

The show does still have a significant comedic element to it, as “Breaking Bad” did before it. The comedy tends to be more of the dark and situational variety, and not necessarily joke-oriented. 

I originally watched it as a curiosity. I wanted to see if the creators dropped the ball, or if, against all odds, I felt the show was necessary. 

The first season is pretty slow, but the same can really be said about “Breaking Bad.” In the second season, things shifted into high gear as story lines progressed more rapidly. 

This season, things have only gotten better and it now feels like a continuation of “Breaking Bad.” And I don’t say that lightly. 

While this show easily could have been fan service, with pointless cameos and bumbling references to a revered predecessor, it actually supplements the story told in “Breaking Bad” while exploring avenues that were only briefly acknowledged in “Breaking Bad.” 

If you’re late to the party, I can’t recommend the two shows more highly, though you should start at the end, with “Breaking Bad.” 

Jake Old is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at jold@lebanondemocrat.com and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewsroom.

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