7 reasons why Better Call Saul might be better than Breaking Bad
"There's no honour among thieves... except for us of course."
It's hard to believe the saga of Walter White's transition from a broken down high school teacher to the Scarface of meth is 10 years old. The realisation has left more than a few people pining for the old show's revival, so it's probably a relief to hear creator, Vince Gilligan teasing out what to expect in the fourth season of its spin-off show, Better Call Saul.
If you're not already up on the story of how Saul Goodman came to be the sleaziest lawyer in New Mexico, now's the perfect time to get up to speed with his own evolution. Call it a controversial view, but there are definitely moments in the series that have rivalled, if not outdone, the original show.
That might not be convincing. Like Goodman, the show is all about manipulative lawyers, so in the same way Jimmy McGill, AKA Saul Goodman, once managed to convince a woman he was Kevin Costner, let us persuade you that this show is superior to the original.
1. It has just about the greatest character introductions imaginable
When we are first properly introduced to the man who became Saul - Jimmy McGill - the scene plays out slowly, building tension by having him rehearse a plea for two clients in the courthouse toilets. He runs through these lines over and over, as the judge and jury sit patiently inside the courtroom.
As he returns, delivering an impassioned plea as to why two clearly guilty teens should be treated lightly for the crime they committed, for a few minutes it seems as if this is a phenomenal display of lawyering. You would almost want to stand up and applaud him, but nobody speaks.
Instead, the prosecutor sticks on a VHS tape of the accused teens behaving drunkenly, and badly, with a cadaver.
It is just about the most tastelessly hilarious of ways to show us how far down the legal food-chain Jimmy is.
2. The criminals are ridiculous and that's something few TV shows ever consider
If there is one thing Better Call Saul does extremely well, it is reminding us how not all criminals need to be chilling members of a cartel who kill without a second's thought.
Instead, we get criminals who are almost childishly stupid.
Criminals who sing nursery rhymes while hiding out as fugitives, or leave voicemails like this one...
Clip via PS Whispers
Or those who try to pull off the badass vibe to the point that it hurts.
Clip via HadToFloodMyWrists
Felons as terrifying as squirrels. Is there anything better?
3. The fact that we know how it ends makes this even more interesting
We all know how Better Call Saul ends. Jimmy McGill loses every shred of his moral decency and becomes Saul Goodman. He can't die, he can't lose an arm, he can't be disbarred from practising law. He can't really do anything that is too over-the-top.
If you don't know how a show will end, then a lot of the anticipation lies in waiting for the climax. In the case of Better Call Saul, that's been decided, so all of the focus is put on the small stories, the weird characters and the details in between the start and finish.
This was arguably what made Breaking Bad great in the first place. So getting it in abundance with BCS just makes this a smaller, but richer story.
4. Mike is back
It was painful enough to see Mike's end before the midway point of season five, mainly because his death was completely unnecessary. Even viewers who were gripped by how Breaking Bad unfolded afterwards probably felt hard done by.
Getting Jonathan Banks to revive one of the story's greatest characters, and really going in depth on his background as a corrupt cop, has possibly been the best way of retaining enough of the Breaking Bad tone to keep the nostalgia riding high.
5. The callback references are just beyond the beyond
If you go back to Breaking Bad and listen to all of Saul Goodman's many, many, many throwaway anecdotes or references, you might be surprised at how many have been dug up again.
For example, when he is first abducted by Walt and Jesse, his immediate assumption is that he has been abducted by a man called Nacho, whom we only found out over six years later is Ignacio 'Nacho' Varga, the reluctant member of Hector Salamanca's local criminal organisation.
Then, of course, there is the Kevin Costner remark - something Saul tells Walt in season two - which is later re-enacted during the season finale of Better Call Saul's first season.
Clip via Better Call Saul Scenes
The real clincher here, however, is what Saul tells Walt in his final episode, season five's Granite State as the pair prepare to flee New Mexico using new identities.
"Best case scenario, I'm managing a Cinnabon in Omaha," Saul half-jokingly tells Walt.
It is only during the cold-opening of each season premiere do we find Saul exactly where he guessed. Working at a Cinnabon, right there in Omaha.
Not one detail in the Breaking Bad world gets forgotten about.
6. The new characters don't turn this into one big ol' cheesy reunion.
Let's be completely honest, what has made Better Call Saul is not Saul Goodman. It's Chuck McGill with his electromagnetic hypersensitivity and space blanket, Kim Wexler with her desperate attempts at being moral while loving Jimmy, and Pryce with his pimpin' hum-vee, baseball cards and goofy politeness.
It's the characters who are going to get lost during Jimmy's transition that make it compelling, as we want to figure out each of their downfalls.
Without them, who knows what we'd have? Probably something like that fake Friends reunion trailer, but with a bit more money laundering and substandard meth.
7. Jimmy's Bingo-hall nervous breakdown
This is the epitome of why Vince Gilligan has created a compelling story that spans two shows and eight seasons in total. It is the small-town spectacle of a lawyer losing his sanity while attempting to call out the bingo numbers.
But more importantly, after 10 episodes of hinting at something called a 'Chicago sunroof', the explanation is finally delivered...
Revealing exactly what that is, in arguably one of least appropriate places, is characteristic of Gilligan's twisted but brilliant sense of humour.
Clip via Dimitrios Balls
Plus, for anybody still hunting for a few more callback references, it's a pretty good revival of the scene in which Walt freaks out about the complete history of airplane disasters to a hall of stunned children.
Clip via Qwerty