The 2015 spinoff of AMC’s ever-popular Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul (which airs Monday nights on AMC), follows the pre-criminal law life of sleazy criminal lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). Through flashbacks, flash-forwards and a whole lot of drama and comedy, viewers are propelled through Goodman’s past, for better or for worse.
The show, originally airing in February of 2015, just began its second season on AMC on Monday, February 15, and this season, viewers should expect to see some explosive, funny and even romantic content that may have been absent from the first season.
So for those new to the world of Saul Goodman, or just looking for a little more clarity before delving into the show’s second season, here are 12 Things You Need To Know About Better Call Saul.
**Warning: Possible spoilers for those not currently caught up on the show!***
1. The Genre Change
The producers of Better Call Saul were at a bit of a loss when tasked with creating a spinoff to arguably one of the most talked-about TV shows in recent history. They weren’t sure whether Saul Goodman was best displayed comically or dramatically, and after much consideration, a combination, dramedy, was the verdict.
At first, producers were thinking of creating a thirty-minute sitcom, especially given the cast’s comically trained backgrounds. Odenkirk, for instance, has much experience in this realm, including his work on shows such as W/ Bob and David (2015), Mr. Show and the Incredible, Fantastical News Report (1998), and Comedy Bang! Bang! (2012-2015). They also toyed with the idea of a crime show layout, where Saul would take on a new client every week.
2. The Many Names of Saul
While we know him best as Breaking Bad’s crooked lawyer, Saul Goodman, on Better Call Saul, he goes by his real name: Jimmy McGill. And his name isn’t the only thing that’s different. Jimmy McGill is nowhere near as popular as we find Saul in Breaking Bad. Instead, the show is a prequel to Breaking Bad, so we find Jimmy at the absolute bottom of the food chain and he has quite a bit of climbing to do.
Still, each season begins with a black and white sequence where Saul is working at a Cinnabon and goes by Gene. This is a glimpse at Saul’s future, beyond the events of Breaking Bad. He’s left town, changed his name and taken up a new career, and he looks miserable.
3. There Will Be Romance
The first episode of this season demonstrated the depth of Kim and Jimmy’s relationship, and it’s more than likely this budding romance is going to grow (or fail) as the season progresses. As a refresher, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is a litigator at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill who has an obvious (though unknown at this time) past with Jimmy.
In episode 1 of season 2, it’s suggested that Kim is much more familiar with the game of deception than meets the eye, and it’s very possible that she and Jimmy crossed paths in a con (though that’s all speculation at this point). Still, their relationship will undoubtedly be tested as the season continues, so as far as the romance goes, it’s safe to assume we haven’t seen the last of it.
4. Brothers Fight
Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) is Jimmy’s agoraphobic brother who, in an unexpected twist, is standing between Jimmy a job at a reputable law firm, specifically Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, despite the fact that Jimmy had taken care of his brother while he was incapacitated by his mental illness. In episode 2 of the current season, the brothers meet once again, and to describe the reunion as icy would be an understatement.
While the nature of Chuck’s return and the implications are still relatively unknown, viewers should expect to see effects begin to snowball as the season continues. There will probably still be conflict, tension and awkwardness between the two, so expect Chuck’s return to hold some weight.
5. Mike’s Background
Perhaps one of the most likable Breaking Bad criminals, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) is also a regular on Better Call Saul. Best known as Goodman’s “fixer” from the original series, Better Call Saul gives viewers a chance to explore Mike’s background a little further, specifically where the attachment to his family comes from and how Mike and Saul initially meet.
In terms of how Mike has gotten to this point, the ex-cop dramatically left the force for contract work in more criminal fields. His son, Matt, also a cop, was shot by two coworkers, leaving behind a daughter, Kaylee. Mike feels responsibility for his granddaughter (and daughter-in-law) and, as we’ve seen on both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, the money Mike makes in his shifty dealings is gifted to his family.
6. Don’t Expect Saul…Yet
Better Call Saul is misleading in that viewers aren’t going to be introduced to the Saul Goodman they know from Breaking Bad. Instead, we might see occasional glances at the character, or perhaps even full-on glimpses when Jimmy and Mike partner up, but as for the transformation from Jimmy to Saul, it’s very possible we’re going to be waiting quite a while.
Producers have made no secret of their intentions with the show: the transformation will be a very gradual one. The goal is to keep the show as realistic as possible, and no personality change happens overnight. So while we’re eager to watch Jimmy McGill become Saul Goodman, the change won’t happen in a single episode. Perhaps not even in a single season.
7. Breaking Bad Nods
While Better Call Saul is certainly strong enough to stand on its own, don’t forget, it is a prequel. So it’s safe to say there will be many nods to Breaking Bad, however subtle or blatant they may be. So far, there have been a few subtle nods, such as the tequila Kim and Jimmy drink in season 2, episode 1 (this is the same tequila later used by Gus to poison the Juarez cartel).
But as far as future nods go, expect more familiar faces. The cameos so far have been both blatant (the introduction of Tuco in the first episode) and subtle (the finance guy that Kim and Jimmy hustle in season 2, episode 1 is actually Ken from Breaking Bad season 1, episode 4), but there will be plenty more to come. And all this is leading up to the probable introduction of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), though it’s unlikely this is coming up anytime soon.
8. But It’s Not The Same
Just because the ties to Breaking Bad are going to be apparent throughout the prequel series doesn’t mean that the shows are going to follow the same bare bones outline. While there appears to be a dark future looming before Jimmy McGill, it’s unlikely the show will reach the darkness of Breaking Bad.
The difference between the original drama and the prequel dramedy is that, while the same underlying moral questions are present and things are undoubtedly going to go downhill for Goodman, this stand-alone show doesn’t have to resort to Breaking Bad plot lines – Saul Goodman is a more positive person than Walter White, and that right there makes all the difference.
9. Eventually, Things Will Go South
While it’s easy to see the Breaking Bad spinoff as a light, carefree telling of Saul Goodman’s story, it’s important to remember that eventually, the events of the original series do happen, and Saul ultimately ends up in an undesirable place. So while the series as it stands is a bright beginning, remember that the ending – up to the point we’ve been introduced, is bleak.
For those not familiar, following the events of Breaking Bad, Saul Goodman changes his name (Gene) and moves to Omaha where he works at a Cinnabon. These sequences, shown at the beginning of each season in black and white, demonstrate Saul’s decline, as well as his fear of the police and overall unhappiness at where his life has ended up.
10. Slippin’ Jimmy Is Back
Slippin’ Jimmy, the name given to Saul’s deviant, persuasive alter ego returns in this season, specifically in an attempt to impress Kim. However, in season 2, episode 2, we see the negative effects Slippin’ Jimmy’s return can cause in Kim and Jimmy’s relationship.
While the alter ego is undoubtedly where Goodman got his start, his reintroduction holds quite a bit of weight, as eventually, this is where Goodman is going to end up. It’s a safe bet to think Kim and Jimmy’s relationship will take a turn for the worse due to the shenanigans of Slippin’ Jimmy but, at the same time, this reintroduction also brings us that much closer to the Saul that we know and love.
11. It’s All Color Coded
Many fans will have noticed that Breaking Bad, much like an M. Night Shyamalan film, utilized colors to evoke emotional responses to certain scenes – or simply to mark important moments more clearly. Better Call Saul will continue in this color coding pattern.
According to the producers, the color red will mark moments of intensity or importance in the series, and can also be seen donned by the “bad guys.” The lawyers will typically don blues, purples and greens – meant to evoke a calm, familiar feeling, and Saul will typically wear shades of brown, demonstrating his moral mixture of the two worlds. He isn’t ever clearly defined as good or evil, or even as a lawyer for that matter, something the color-coding subtly demonstrates.
12. Mike’s Current Partnership
Another important tidbit to keep in mind is that Mike is currently in a partnership with a nerdy, very much helpless, criminal that has already begun causing him problems. Pryce (Mark Proksch), the naïve criminal so desperately in need of Mike’s help, sells pills to Nacho on a regular basis and pays Mike as his bodyguard.
However, when he buys an alarmingly obvious yellow Hummer, Mike ceases to work with Pryce, resulting in a series of events that could potentially lead the police back to Mike, who calls Jimmy to help him clean up the problem (resulting in the reemergence of Slippin’ Jimmy), tying both characters to the idiotic drug dealer.
So while the problem seems to be solved for the moment, and this tie seemingly brings Mike and Jimmy closer together, it’s something to be wary of in the future, especially given the level of stupidity associated with Pryce.
Excited for the rest of the second season? Let us know in the comments!