BY COLE NOWLIN Let me start by saying I am a huge Breaking Bad fan. Best show ever, bar none. You should say a quick prayer to the Supreme Cosmic Deity of your choosing that you did not see me in September of 2013, because I would have ruined your day, all I talked about was that friggin’ show. I would talk to people about it with the zeal of a Mormon missionary trying to convert the uninitiated, bother my friends if they didn’t watch it, break your goddamn windows if you said an unkind word about the show — in other words, I was exactly the worst stereotype of a Break Bad superfan. Walter White could burn down my house and kill all my pets and I would be like, ‘I’m sure he has his reasons.’ That being said, I was skeptical about Better Call Saul. I know that spinoffs almost always work out, with little or no harm to the source material, and are often times far superior than the original, but I was still apprehensive.
All of that was swiftly dispelled by the opening scene. The black and white montage of a mundane task like Cinnabon-making, scored with The Ink Spot’s cheery whistley “Address Unknown,” had Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan’s fingerprints all over it. I was officially in. Breaking Bad fans such as myself also were treated to another one of Gilligan’s favorite narrative conceits: the opening scene which is in fact a snippet of the conclusion. Think of the pink teddy bear in the opening sequence of season two of Breaking Bad, or Walt’s trunk full of firepower on his 52nd birthday in season five. We are given a glimpse of where Saul will end up and are left to theorize on how he gets there. The Cinnabon-managing Saul we are introduced to in the opening scene must certainly be post-Breaking Bad and therefore quite a few years removed from the Saul we next see charismatically defending the severed-head-fucking trio.
In fact, for those of us that listened closely enough, Gilligan dropped a major hint about where Saul would end up during his last appearance in Breaking Bad. A frantic Saul preparing to Houdini himself away from the catastrophe Walt had created says, “If I’m lucky, a month from now, best case scenario, I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha.” The contrast between the two Sauls hints that we may be in for another Walter White-esque transformation story. The Walter White we were given after the first episode of Breaking Bad is not all that different from this Saul we are introduced to in “Uno”. Both have their backs up against the wall, life is heaping shit on them by the shovel full, they are broke, desperate men, about to make their power move.
But what will Saul’s power move be? I have no fucking idea and neither do you. Gilligan, as expected, raised about a million questions, without the slightest whiff of an answer, and offered some enticing hints of future tie ins to come. Its too early to judge Better Call Saul but, it’s looking like it will turn out to be spinoff of The Lone Gunmen caliber, and not Joey. (Do yourself a favor and watch The Lone Gunmen.) Tune in tonight for the second half of the two-night premiere of Better Call Saul and check back here for a complete debriefing.