Breaking Bad, which earned immense fandom, plaudits and awards, was undeniably gripping; however, its spin-off prequel Better Call Saul – to let the cat out of the bag at the very outset – was even better. The creators, in an excellent creative decision, focussed here on the backstories of two secondary characters from the previous show – the hustling, loquacious and amoral lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) in particular, and to a lesser degree the taciturn ex-cop turned enforcer Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) – and dramatically reworked the mood and scope while retaining elements which were at the forefront there. The resultant work was more psychologically nuanced, morally ambiguous, stylistically ambitious, and sprawling in its narrative arc. Odenkirk gave a truly outstanding performance as Jimmy McGill, former con-man and struggling lawyer who, over 6 marvellous seasons, transforms into a wealthy, crafty and flourishing lawyer through a mix of sheer will, ingenuity, impudence, street-smartness and willingness to cut corners. Banks evoked a droll persona, juxtaposing fierce loyalty, albeit for Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) – the ruthless Chilean drug distributor for the cartel – with an indeterminate moral compass. Kim Wexler (magnificently played by the stunning Rhea Seehorn) – a virtuoso lawyer and a complex, enigmatic woman – formed a fascinating counterpoint to Saul. Among other memorable characters, Saul’s elder brother Chuck (Michael McKean), a renowned lawyer with psychological troubles; Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton), a conniving and charismatic Mexican drug lord; and Nacho (Michael Mando), a foot-soldier in the Salamanca gang, stood out. The series became darker, murkier and more engrossing as it progressed, reaching its apotheosis in the final season – set “after” Breaking Bad’s events and shot in bleak monochromes – which portrayed a lonely, broken and hunted Saul struggling to contain his natural instincts.
Creators: Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould
Genre: Drama/Crime Drama/Legal Drama/Black Comedy