There is no way anyone can talk about “Better Call Saul” without directly comparing the show to “Breaking Bad.” For those unfamiliar with either show, Saul Goodman, a seedy yet charming lawyer, plays an important role in “Breaking Bad.”
AMC gave the green-light to the spin-off show starring the talkative lawyer before “Breaking Bad” was even over. “Better Call Saul,” at the time, felt like such a calculated move. Milking the cash cow before it dies is good, but creating a clone of the cash cow is even better. That metaphor was both convoluted and wrong.
Only three episodes in, I already love “Better Call Saul.”
So far, the most disappointing thing there is about “Better Call Saul” is the lack of episodes. When it premiered, AMC announced a second season almost immediately. The debut set the record for the highest-rated scripted series premiere in the history of basic cable. It is a guarantee that there will be many more seasons of “Better Call Saul,” and it is a shame those episodes are so far away.
“Breaking Bad” started off far too slow for my taste. I was not fully captivated by the show until its third season. The more I think about it, the more I realize that it might be because the show became about more than just Walter White. I just never found him relatable until the last couple of seasons.
I do think it is ironic that I am complaining about not relating to the main character of a show with the title “Breaking Bad.” There is something else though. To me, I always saw Walter White as someone who was already bad. He was always a self-centered asshole who looked out for himself.
Sure, he was a teacher and a family man but deep down, he felt like he was always above that, and cancer let him embrace his darker side. It never felt like he broke bad””more like he showed his bad self which was always there, suppressed by the rules of society.
Saul Goodman, on the other hand, always felt like a good guy trying to make ends meet. Sure, he was not a selfless angel but he knew it and he didn’t feel the need to hide it. A lot of the characters in “Breaking Bad” felt hypocritical but Saul never did. He was a lawyer that catered to seedy individuals and his whole persona””his real name is Jimmy McGill””embraced the idea of a lawyer that saw the world in grey rather than in black and white. For a guy who goes by a fake name, Saul felt more real and interesting.
“Better Call Saul” further humanizes him. It does not make him more of a hero or more of a villain but more of both. He’s made mistakes in his life, but he’s trying to atone for it. He looks out for himself but he doesn’t use people. He’s likely to run from a fight but will stay to save someone””even if it still ends badly. He is a conflicted character who is far more interesting than Walter White.
Saul is also a character that finds humor in both absurd and serious moments, which is why I relate to him more personally.
Doing cool, intelligent science and chemistry stuff with Walter White was cool but there really isn’t a lot of complicated chemistry in our everyday lives. Saul’s speciality is talking””mostly bullshitting””and that comes into play far more often. There is one scene in episode two where Saul’s bargaining skills were really flexed and I was hooked.
I just want to say that I both admire and love Bob Odenkirk (Saul) and Bryan Cranston (Walter). If someone had a bomb strapped to my wheelchair and forced me to choose a favorite, I don’t know if I could ever pick between the two of them.
Who knows how “Better Call Saul” holds up to other shows, but when it comes to these two shows, I’d much rather call Saul than break bad.
John Mendiola is the Web Master and an Arts & Entertainment Reporter for the Trinitonian. He is a senior computer science and communication major from Houston, Texas (though originally Manila, Philippines). This is his 4th year working for the newspaper.