*Spoiler Warning, various storylines discussed*
When Breaking Bad premiered its first season it was cut short due to the Writers Guild Strike of 2007. Because of this, the shortened season called for a tighter, leaner origin story for Walter White and his alter ego, Heisenberg, making for a memorable first season of television. Better Call Saul, however debuted under a full first season order and arguably topped the first season of Breaking Bad in every way. It established tone, a bevy of new characters, and had one or two episodes many said rivaled the original series. So, why will no one talk about it?
Plenty of articles have been written on this very subject. Many blame the slow burn of the show for not hooking audiences, which is pretty ironic considering that season 2 of Breaking Bad is just as much of a slow burn until its final three episodes. Many of us forget that Breaking Bad was never a major audience puller until its positive word of mouth propelled it to the stratosphere, but that wasn't until its final season.
In fact, Better Call Saul's second season has more than double the viewership of Breaking Bad during its second season, which would be notable if everyone wasn't constantly connecting the two as one thing. But, on its own, is Better Call Saul as good as Breaking Bad? Does it deserve a defense? Absolutely.
The irony that has become most apparent during the early stages of season 2 is that Better Call Saul would flourish if it wasn't needing to constantly cut to Breaking Bad call backs. In the most recent episode (204, Gloves Off) we were treated to the return of two Breaking Bad characters: Tuco and Crazy 8, while at the same time the show keeps teasing what will most likely be the major return of Gus.
While as a fan of the original show I do enjoy these call backs, it always feels like they get in the way of any further character development of Jimmy McGill, Chuck, and Kim. During Gloves Off, a major plot point of whether or not Jimmy would be fired from his current job was put on hold so Mike could have his stand off with fan-favorite, Tuco.
This has become a tricky balancing act, and while I remained entertained, feeling the writers have truly accomplished setting themselves apart from Breaking Bad while still remaining true to the world, the audience numbers don't seem to agree with that sentiment. It could be that the dry tone hasn't latched on, but I also feel like it's hard for a general audience to care about new characters when we get very limited time with them.
I really hope Better Call Saul sticks to what its doing, but at the same time try to make Saul/Jimmy, Chuck, and Kim more established parts of the show. Yes, keeping the Breaking Bad connection are necessary, but its also necessary to get invested in these characters now before the shit hits the fan.
You gonna keep giving Better Call Saul a chance like me? Watch it on AMC Monday's at 10pm!