Being a spinoff of arguably the most critically acclaimed show in history cannot be an easy task. Breaking Bad was a juggernaut, one that slowly built over 5 seasons to one of the most satisfying conclusions I have ever seen. After the show took it’s final bow, rumors swirled of a spinoff, focused on the criminal lawyer sidekick better known as Saul Goodman. Rarely do these off shoots work, a victim of trying to recreate a magic that some would say is best left alone. This is not the case with AMC’s Better Call Saul. Entering it’s fourth season last night, Saul once again proved there’s still something special occurring in the deserts of Albuquerque.
*****If you’re not caught up, please stop reading here. Spoilers for last night’s introduction. I’ll let you know when it’s safe.
Season 4 picks up with the everyone’s favorite Cinnabon employee Gene being transported to the hospital after passing out in the season 3 premiere. Tests are run with the verdict being a false alarm. Gene is discharged, but not before an over-talkative receptionist grills him for his driver’s license and social security number, both of which seem to keep being rejected by the hospital’s computer system. The panic sets in for Gene, aka Saul, aka Jimmy, who is hiding out in Nebraska after the events of Breaking Bad. Tension builds and just when you think the jig is up, the system accepts the information and Gene leaves for the cab waiting to bring him home. This is where things get even better. Overcome by the anxiety of the scene that just unfolded, he notices that hanging from the mirror of the cab is an air freshener label Albuquerque. The cab driver’s eyes peer into the rearview, which might as well be straight into Gene’s soul. He asks for the cabbie to pull over, which he does so reluctantly. Who is this cab driver? Does he just recognize Saul from his billboards all over Albuquerque, or is this something more nefarious? Gene exists quickly and the cab doesn’t pull away. It lingers, as we the audience wait for whatever is about to happen next. Cut to opening credits.
Better Call Saul manages to tell it’s own story outside of the Breaking Bad world. Yes, there are a ton of characters from both series now present, including Mike, Lydia, Gus, the Salamancas, Tuco, Victor, and so on, but never has a spinoff been so well executed that it is easily on the same playing field as the original. Patrick Fabian and Rhea Seehorn as Howard and Kim are absolute geniuses in their craft, giving some of their best performances to date in last night’s premiere. AMC is so confident in Saul that it was already picked up for a fifth season.
You’ve all officially been put on notice, get to watching Better Call Saul if you haven’t already. I truly consider it to be the best drama on television, and it deserves to be seen.