Finally, the highly anticipated series ‘Better Call Saul’ premiered on Feb. 8 and it certainly made an impression. The kinda-spinoff to ‘Breaking Bad’ has had fans going crazy waiting for months, but did the big premiere live up to expectations?
Welcome back, Saul– er, James McGill (Bob Odenkirk). Following his beloved role on Breaking Bad, AMC gave Saul his very own series, Better Call Saul. The first episode of the two-night event aired on Feb. 8, and within the span of the first hour we saw Saul/James working at a Cinnabon, committing fraud and, oh yeah, have a gun pointed at his head. New show, same Saul! Check out a full recap!
‘Better Call Saul’ Premiere: James McGill, At Your Service
We open inside a Cinnabon– ya know, as you do.
Guess who’s the star cinnamon bun employee? That’s right: Saul, undercover, and totally paranoid.
Cut to Saul in the “comfort” of his home, pouring himself a stiff drink. He opens up a hidden shoebox and pulls out a VHS (one of the first hints we know we’re in the past a few years, perhaps?). Turns out the tape is a reel of old “Better Call Saul” commercials. Oh, so we’re actually in the future then? K. Saul watches them with tears in his eyes and it’s both bizarre and sad.
We cut to a courtroom. No one is speaking. It’s awkward. Saul is psyching himself up in the bathroom, using urinals as a sounding board, saying something about “dumb 19 year olds.” He storms back into the courtroom, with a fire in his belly.
“Oh to be 19 again,” he says. “If you’re being honest, really honest, you’ll recall that you also had an underdeveloped 19 year old brain. If I was held responsible for some of the stupid decisions I made when I was 19… Which brings us to these three.”
And now we see, said dumb 19 year olds. We know that the three trespassed and we know no one was hurt. Saul’s defense is pretty flawless, but then a television is wheeled out to show footage of the incident. The situation was actually much dumber than we though: they broke into a biology class and sawed off the head of a cadaver, had sex with it once it was decapitated… and chose to film it, because nothing ever gets leaked onto the internet.
Well, they’re going to jail, and Saul is pissed that he’s only getting $700 out of the whole thing. He storms out, answers a call, and we find out Saul isn’t going by Saul at all.
Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to James McGill!
While driving to a meeting, we see our first solid Breaking Bad allusion. Working the tollbooth is none other than Mike (Jonathan Banks) and he’s giving Saul a hard time of course. Ugh, we’ve missed you Mike. Also, it should be noted, Mike calls Saul “Saul” and not “James.” Interesting.
We see James (it’s going to be hard to keep track of which name he’s going by in each scene but we’ll do what we can) having a meeting with a man and woman. We’re not sure what the man did, but James is convincing him he needs a lawyer. The man worries that “having a lawyer will make me look guilty.” James assures him, “going to jail will make you look guilty.”
Just as the client is about to put pen to paper, wifey dearest stops him. Ugh, women and their totally accurate instincts, amiright?
Saul is gabbing carelessly on the phone while driving home when suddenly a body flies at his windshield. Turns out it’s a skateboarder, whose brother got the whole thing on video and is about to call the cops. “What are you gonna do to make things right?” He asks Saul.
“I don’t know fellas,” Saul says. “What can I do to make it right?”
Turns out, $500 will make things just peachy. He uses his quick talkin’ skills to turn the tables and convinces the boys they owe him money for his windshield. They sprint. Can’t deny that Saul knows his way around an argument.
We see him enter a nail salon, in the back of which is his “discrete” office (which we can only be sure is permeated by nail salon fumes). He sifts through his mail: past due bill, past due bill, but then, something catches his eye. Inside, is a check from Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, for a casual $26,000, which he could clearly use. So what does he do? He rips it to shreds.
His next stop is, naturally, Hamlin Hamlin & McGill. With his natural calmness, he bursts into a conference room. “You’ve mettled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Hamlin and I won’t have it,” he says as a voice on a conference calls asks if they need security.
He scatters the shreds of the check onto the mahogany table. “That’s money for Chuck. Isn’t that what you wanted?” Hamlin asks.
“Why was it made out to me, not Chuck?” he asks. Turns out, whoever Chuck is, can’t exactly make it to the bank. “What Chuck did for this firm, one third of this place belongs to him,” James says. Turns out, the firm owes Chuck $17 million and Chuck wants to withdraw from the firm completely. Well, that’s the truth according to James, so really, who knows?
“You will atone!” James screams, before walking out. As he’s exiting the building, he sees the couple from earlier who had neglected to sign with him, clearly about to ink with the firm.
Then he violently attacks an aluminum trash can before stepping outside and sharing a cigarette with an unidentified woman.
“Couldn’t you just–” he says to her. “No I can’t.” Scene.
Later, James arrives to a home (really more like a shack) where there is obviously no power. He opens up a cooler and puts a plastic bag in there. Here’s to hoping there’s not a body part inside.
As it turns out, this is Chateau de Chuck.
“Perfect timing,” Chuck (Michael McKean) says to him, removing a document from the typewriter.
“Can we talk?” James asks him. “You gotta cash out. There’s no other way.” As it turns out, Chuck is sick but, perhaps in delusion, he thinks he’ll get better and thus doesn’t believe he needs to cash out.
James attempts to sway him, telling him he’s going under working as a public defender. “Money is besides the point,” Chuck says.
“Money is the point!” he screams back.
Oh, one more thing: Hamlin wants James to drop the McGill from the name of the firm he’s trying to start up. Hm, I think we can sense where that is going.
James pays the skateboard bros from earlier another visit, and he’s got a plan up his sleeve. He tells the story of a guy who would strategize slipping on ice for an 8 grand payday. I sense a dream team partnership.
James convinces them to try their little “you hit me” game on a woman– a suburban mom– who, surely, would stop and pay the boys out. The plan backfires, though, when she totally hits and runs. Panicked, they call James (it took everything I had not to say “they better call Saul” there). He informs them that a hit and run is a felony and they’ll get even more money now.
The boys follow her, only to reveal that the woman they had planned on taking down had not been driving the attack vehicle. Actually, it’s an old hispanic woman who doesn’t speak English. Thus, the plan is already in major jeopardy. Saul knocks on the door, demanding they open up. That might have been a mistake, because when the door does open, a man is standing there, gun in hand. He motions for Jimmy to enter, and he does.
Oh boy. Jimmy sure does love to get himself into these life-threatening situations, doesn’t he?
What did you think of the Better Call Saul premiere? Are you ready for night two of the event?
— Casey Mink