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Better Call Saul: Jimmy McGill Is Broke and Bad

Mike Hoffman | 9 Feb 2015 15:00
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"Managing a Cinnabon in Omaha."

In the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad, Saul says, "If I'm lucky in a month from now, best-case scenario, I'm managing a Cinnabon in Omaha." Apparently, Saul Goodman was lucky. The opening of Better Call Saul is a long, black and white sequence of Goodman going through the depressing motions of employment in an Omaha mall's Cinnabon.

It's a gorgeous opening that immediately answers a question a lot of fans might be asking: will we see what happened after Breaking Bad? Expect more of these sequences, as the original series was fond of time-jumping as well.

Life is Terrible

Most of the episode is dedicated to showcasing just how awful things are for McGill. From his hopeless court cases to arguing over three dollars with a parking attendant (Jonathan Banks returns as Mike Ehrmantraut), everything about McGill is pathetic. Most of the show's dark humor lives here, rather than the outlandish remarks we might be familiar with from Saul Goodman.

jimmy and chuck mcgill better call saul 1

McGill's older brother, Chuck, makes matters worse for Jimmy. Once a founding member and partner of a successful law firm, the elder McGill is homebound as he can't be exposed to any electricity. This condition is almost certainly mental and is referred to with a reverence that is surprising to see in television.

This is Jimmy McGill's most noble story in the premiere but it certainly isn't entirely selfless. Jimmy says he wants the law firm to cash out Chuck's portion in order to do what is best for him, but he's prepared to bring down the entire organization to get as much money as possible.

Surprisingly, the coldest blow to Jimmy comes from his own brother. While the younger McGill is trying to build his own name in the legal world of Albuquerque, his brother recommends he not use the name of McGill. After all, "James McGill" sounds a bit too much like "Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill." It would seem Chuck is more loyal to his firm than his own brother.

Connections:

  • Tuco! The psychotic drug dealer from the first seasons of Breaking Bad is the first surprise return of the series. It also looks like he's our gateway to the violence of the original series which might otherwise seem out of place in a show about a lawyer.
  • Mike's position as a parking attendant seems a little beneath his skillset. Banks is a regular for the series, and it should be rewarding to see where this point in time lands in his development.
  • Personally, I love the trash can Jimmy abuses. It functions as a fantastic focal point to recognize reflections between him and Walter White, who similarly beat the hell out of a paper towel dispenser.

What other connections did you notice? What were your favorite moments or complaints about the premiere? Sound off in the comments!

Bottom line: Better Call Saul is engaging and visually beautiful television. It may not be as innovative as Breaking Bad, but it has the potential to be just as great.

Recommendation: Definitely get on board with this. Even if you never watched Breaking Bad, you won't be lost at all.

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