Better Call Saul: “Uno” Season 1 Episode 1 Review

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Did you miss Breaking Bad? Well, the world is back. Just from the opening scene, it’s clear that Better Call Saul is going to have a similar aesthetic to the series it spun off from.

 

The pilot has the same look and feel as Bad. In fact, if you showed me “Uno” in the middle of season two of Breaking Bad, I’m not sure I’d think it was a different show. The only real difference is the tone.

Better Call Saul intends to be more of a comedy than its predecessor was (although, Bad certainly had its moments of outright hilarity), and is largely successful. Yes, Saul is definitely off on the right foot. It’s energetic and, surprisingly, bustling with heart.

The fact that this pilot is as good as it is is something to marvel at. But with Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould behind the camera, I suppose it isn’t that surprising.

After an opening scene that shows where Saul (Bob Odenkirk) ended up after the events of Breaking Bad, we settle in six years before that show even started. It’s 2002, and the future Saul Goodman is known as James McGill. He’s a lawyer, but apparently not a very good one. Losing cases, he’s barely making ends meet and living with his ailing brother Chuck (Michael McKean). This starting point turns Saul into more of a sympathetic character than Bad ever cared to.

The genius of the pilot is how it presents a character we know, who we generally were never asked to care for, and makes you root for him through all the sleaziness and poor decisions. On Bad, Saul Goodman was the comedic relief that probably caused the main characters more harm than good. But on Saul, James McGill is the sad man trying to make a living and take care of his brother.

If there’s one criticism of the pilot, the supporting cast is lacking. Odenkirk is better than ever as the character, but McKean hasn’t sold me on Chuck yet, who is the only other character really worked on in the episode. But this will hopefully all come in time. Otherwise, Better Call Saul is not even remotely close to being the disaster it could have been. The pilot is a serious win for Breaking Bad fans, as well as TV-watchers in general. What a relief. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes and Spoiler Talk:

– “If I’m lucky, in a month from now, best case scenario, I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha.” That’s one of the last lines Saul Goodman ever had on Breaking Bad. Prophetic, no? There’s definitely something hilarious in the irony.

– I did quite like the skateboard twins, they seem goofy and like they would work well as people Saul can call to find work. They could be this show’s Badger and Skinny Pete.

– Mike only had a short scene in the episode, but it’s just so wonderful to have Jonathan Banks back in my life as the character.

– Tuco!!!!!

 

By Matt Dougherty

 

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