Better Call Saul Season 1 Review: Walter Who?

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TV spinoffs are rarely good. So imagine the shock 10 weeks ago when Better Call Saul premiered a pilot that promised this spinoff would challenge the very show it spun off from.

By the end of the season, the only thing shocking about the show’s quality was how little the finale delivered. But before that, Saul was as good-hearted of a series as one about a corrupt lawyer could be.

The show’s biggest charm was the slightly more comedic tone it took than it’s older sister series Breaking Bad. Saul rarely tried to be as serious as The Tragedy of Walter White, breathing a more light-hearted life into this series.

Bob Odenkirk proved right from the pilot that he has what it takes to lead a series. It took a few episodes, but the supporting cast eventually filled out as well. Rhea Seehorn and Michael McKean were particular highlights, not to mention Breaking Bad alum Jonathan Banks.

We meet future Saul Goodman, Jimmy McGill, roughly five years before Walt and Jesse ever came knocking on his door. The writers quickly shed new light on him by making him sympathetic. Watching his quest to truly be good lawyer was the biggest reward of this premiere season. Even though the finale didn’t quite sell Jimmy’s change of heart, the writing on this series is strong enough to come back from that next year.

Still, Saul wasn’t without its weak points. When looking at the season in total, there is a feeling that the show went on tangents that it never really tied together. Why was Nacho introduced as this big bad for the series only to disappear after episode four? How does anything going on with Mike tie into the Sandpiper case? And if Marco was going to be so important in the finale, why wasn’t his friendship with Jimmy better fleshed out before then?

Sometimes the season felt like a string of random thoughts and character movements. But the central arc of Jimmy’s dealing with Kim and his brother to become a better lawyer were fantastic.

All in all, Better Call Saul comes up short compared to Breaking Bad‘s first season. But most shows do. This spinoff is still highly enjoyable. If it finds a little more focus in its second season, then it will be a true competitor to the show that birthed it. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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