Binge Watch Season One of “Better Call Saul” With Me
While I try to explain why BCS is the best show on TV
In early 2020, I binged four seasons of “Better Call Saul.” My thoughts were as follows:
Better Call Saul is one of my favorite shows. I’m in love with Bob Odenkirk, unironicly. This show is pretty underrated, and while they have been nominated for awards, they’re always shut out by “Game of Thrones.” Like “Breaking Bad,” BCS is impeccably written, cinematically shot, and perfectly cast. Not to mention, totally bingeable.
So, to prepare for Season 5, which starts February 23rd, I’ve decided to re watch from the beginning. I realize this is not a wise use of my time, but I’m fully committed. The show is just that good. Have I mentioned I love Bob Odenkirk?
(I’ll be mentioning it about 87 more times.)
If you’ve been thinking of watching but haven’t, or if you too would like to re-watch the series, I invite you to join me, starting with episode one. The first three seasons are on Netflix (as of the original date of this post).
Let me say, before we start, think of this as a running commentary as I watch, keeping in mind I have seen all of these episodes before. If a reaction video were written down, it’d be something like this.
I’ve added some gifs for context/reference (and because I love them) and links to certain scenes on AMC’s YouTube page.
May contain spoilers!
Episode 1: Uno
Iconic opening shot. Can we just take a moment to appreciate the amazing cinematography of this show? So many great shots throughout the series.
I was pretty much hooked from the beginning. Let’s be real. Saul Goodman has done some questionable things. Morally questionable. Obviously. But he was always likable. He provided much of the comic relief that “Breaking Bad” needed. So I wanted to know what became of him — which this opening scene does. But even more so, I wanted to know how Jimmy McGill became Saul Goodman.
As much as I enjoy the opening vibe — the black and white, oldie tune, his new name and job, and how tragic is it that he watched old tapes of himself?! — I don’t think the pilot did the greatest job in hooking people. New people, that is. If you hadn’t seen “Breaking Bad” and were watching this cold, I don’t know that you’d stick around. By the end of episode two, I think you have a better idea if you’re in it for the long haul.
Back to the show…
Love the first scene with Jimmy and Mike. The stickers! Watch it here!
Jonathan Banks is a gift to us all. I’m so glad he was included in the prequel. We need more Mike.
- These people are annoying. Ketterman? Kettleman? Men? I remember them as annoying, and guess what, still annoying.
- I knew Jimmy was going to hit that skateboarder, but my God, that scared me.
- I don’t remember this check Jimmy is holding. 26k? Wowzers. Ohhh, it’s for Chuck. I did not remember this. Interesting.
- Howard is perfectly cast, no? He’s such a slimeball with that phony little smile of his. When you can be so irritated by a character, that’s a testament to great casting.
- Kim is such a fantastic character, and I love how they introduce the connection between her and Jimmy. It’s subtle with the cigarette. Love it. Love her.
- The Chuck storyline is interesting. I remember the first time watching these episodes, I wasn’t too on board with his illness. I thought it was just too weird, and he was hard to feel any empathy toward — especially in later episodes. But what he does do is show Jimmy’s heart. Michael McKean is brilliant in this role. The relationship between Jimmy and Chuck is so complicated and probably my favorite part of the show, aside from Jimmy himself.
- When Chuck and Jimmy are discussing using the McGill name, Chuck says,
Wouldn’t you rather build our own identity than ride on someone else’s coattails?
- Does this line set up the series or what? Wow.
- The Slipping Jimmy story. Embarrassingly, I forgot the origins of the name. And he is so good at telling stories. I would listen to him talk about anything. I remember ranting to my Dad when I first started watching this show about how great it was, and how “I would watch Jimmy eat breakfast, he’s so good,” and wouldn’t you know, in season 4 I think, he does just that. And it was as wonderful as I thought it could be. I really love Bob Odenkirk, which you will quickly find if you read all this. He’s such a smooth talker. I can’t get enough of it.
- This whole scheme with the skateboarders was a great idea, I have to admit. Too bad it didn’t work out. Ha! Different car. Gotta love it. “Righteous dinero.”
- I’d also like to draw your attention to the awesome soundtrack choice during the skateboard scene: “Milestones” by Shook. Listen here.
- Enter first cameo. And that’s when you know you’re in for a good show. Pardon my lame rhyme.
I wonder, if you don’t know these characters, if this is enough to entice you. It’s difficult for me to judge, being a fan of both. I would sincerely hope Bob Odenkirk on his own would be enough to bring you back for episode two. I mean, the man is brilliant. For “Breaking Bad” fans, as soon as you see Tuco, you have to watch the next episode, which is precisely what I’m going to do now…
Episode Two: Mijo
- This opening shot is another great example of amazing cinematography. “Cooking with Tuco: Tuco Makes Salsa” 😀
- The Spanish these two are spouting. Hilarious. And there’s that “Breaking Bad” violence we all know and…tolerate.
Are you punking my abulita?
This cracks me up. Yet Tuco is terrifying.
- What an interesting way to illustrate Jimmy’s negotiation skills. Have Jimmy convince a drug dealer not to kill two skateboarders. And then he drives them to the hospital?! Geez. But he very easily could have have left them there. See? Heart.
- Watch Jimmy talk Tuco down, here.
- It’s nice to see Chuck take care of Jimmy, like a role reversal, only for him to immediately assume Jimmy is back to his old ways when he sees the hospital bill.
- I love these montages. They’re so well shot. If there’s one thing this show loves, it’s a montage. There are so many throughout the series.
- Nacho is another great casting choice (let’s face it, everyone is). I first saw this actor on “Orphan Black” — another brilliant show I’ve been meaning to finish. Do yourself a favor and check that one out.
I don’t think this episode has quite the same “I must watch another one” feel at the end. But I think by this time, you’ve gotten a sense of Jimmy’s character, and how he’s doing the right thing. Trying. We’ve established his relationship with his brother. We know there’s bad blood with HHM. There’s something going on with Kim. And now he has inadvertently invited a drug dealer into his life. How will this end? Let’s find out.
Episode Three: Nacho
I didn’t have my laptop for this one, so I’m doing it from memory.
- Flashback scenes are so important in piecing together a character’s backstory. And I am all about backstory. I like to know where characters come from. So this scene between Jimmy and Chuck was notable, especially knowing what will come for them. And we learn how Jimmy ends up in Albuquerque.
- I mentioned in episode one how much I love Kim. I think the most tragic part about watching prequels (or really anything when you know how it ends) is seeing the kind of life Jimmy has and how much of it he loses. I LOVE Jimmy and Kim together. This phone call is just oddly sweet to me. I want to be friends with Jimmy. Is that weird? Probably. But if Jimmy called me at 2 am, I wouldn’t be mad about it. I love this character so much, and Bob Odenkirk plays him so well. Moving on…
- This episode is turning into a lovefest, but I love the interaction between Jimmy and Mike. When Jimmy reaches in and opens the gate, Mike’s face is perfect.
Screw you, geezer!
- Going along with this, we get a hint into Mike’s backstory here as well. Notice he doesn’t flat out answer if he used to be a cop, but he admits to knowing how to handle the Kettleman situation.
- I really liked the scene at the telephone booth, both because telephone booths immediately take you out of the present, and there was a great overhead shot during that scene. This was when he was calling Nacho, not the Kettleman’s.
- Nacho does that silent stare a little too well.
- I noticed a loophole in the episode. I’m surprised. They’re so meticulous on these shows. But both Jimmy and Nacho admit there’s blood in Nacho’s van, and if they test it, it will prove he had nothing to do with the Kettleman kidnapping. BUT there’s still blood — that’s not his — in his van. Wouldn’t that incriminate him in something? That seemed odd to me how that was glanced over. Right??? Maybe I’ve been watching too many true crime shows.
- Now I get that Jimmy wants to be a hero, but how can you go out hiking with no provisions, in a suit no less, not knowing where you’re going or how long it will take you? Not too smart.
- Excellent ending shot with the money spilling out.
- Watch this scene here.
Another episode down. The end of this episode poses quite a dilemma for Jimmy, and what will become a pivotal moment in the series. I wish I could remember the episode or moment when I knew this show was going to be a favorite. When I come to it, maybe I’ll know. We’re not there yet.
Episode Four: Hero
- The flashback Rolex scheme, like an origin story. Ha! And he uses “Saul’ in this scene. Jimmy’s flashback hair is a lot to take in.
- “You’re the kind of lawyer guilty people hire.” Ouch.
- Jimmy took the money! But he’s justifying it to himself. That counts for something, right?
- Suit shopping. Love it. Although, I want to know where he got this list. How does he know the specifics of exactly Howard-everything.
- The orange shirt and pink tie! Not this season, Jimmy.
- Don’t get in a car with Howard. There’s just something about him.
- That billboard is priceless. Jimmy definitely looks like a TV lawyer up there. That hair, wow.
- Aww, Kim tells Jimmy, “You’re better than this.” She sees the good in him. I love that.
- And here’s Jimmy doing what Jimmy does best. Butting heads with Howard while wearing the same suit.
- It’s like Jimmy and Howard were sent to the principal’s office. I hate to agree with Howard here, but I’d be put out if someone — especially Jimmy, whom I had no respect for — copied my entire vibe.
There are only so many fonts out there.
- Introducing the film interns. They’re great. I didn’t realize they started this early in the series. Not sure where the girl is though.
- So I was trying to think of the moment when I knew I loved this show, and watching Jimmy “save” the billboard guy might be it.
- Jimmy McGill, action hero.
- But, really, how does he pull him up by one hand?! Come on.
- Watch this scene here.
- He has to know Chuck is going to find out about the billboard stunt, so why hide it? He probably already knows, come to think of it. Wouldn’t Howard have told him?
- That silver cape, wow. It’s Super Chuck! Snatching newspapers in the blazing sun! I love how he leaves money for it. That shot was so Requiem for a Dream looking.
This episode shows us the lengths Jimmy is willing to go to get his name out and get his business started. Starting with that flashback, we know what he’s capable of and how he has experience with this kind of thing. The ol’ swindle. Great episode.
Episode Five: The Alpine Shepherd Boy
- The neighbor called the police?! Chuck left money for the newspaper!
- “Did your neighbor consent to sell you her paper?” Ha!
- OMG, this guy with every animal under the sun. One million dollars. I can feel Jimmy’s disappointment.
- The toilet invention!! I forgot about this thing. Holy hell. Is that man really that oblivious?
- And here we go, one of my absolute favorite aspects of this character. Jimmy has a way with old people. That was one of the things that kept me watching too. He’s so sweet with them. This Hummel inheritance is ridiculous, but he takes it seriously.
- Jimmy is painting Kim’s toenails. And I can’t even.
- So Kim is the one who suggests elder law?! Wow, did not know that.
- Small thing, but that lightbulb in the hospital would have been so hot, and Jimmy unscrewed like it was no biggie. He’s cooler than I thought.
The tanning bed must’ve melted your brain.
- Does Chuck believe Jimmy when he says he’s on the up and up? I’d have to say no. As we’ll see in the coming episodes, and future seasons, Chuck is the one person who sees the real Jimmy, who sees through the facade. Jimmy can fool anyone but Chuck.
- Matlock as research. Love it.
- Jimmy at the nursing home makes me so happy. I can’t explain it. He’s such a natural.
- Fun fact. This is the same diner seen on “Breaking Bad.”
- This look between Mike and the woman. What does it mean? Now, I know who this woman is, but you might not, so I’ll keep it to myself for now. Even so, that was a weird look exchanged.
- Mike’s house is cute! What is he watching???
- Ooo, ominous police visit. And one I can’t remember at the moment.
We’re getting into some of my favorite themes of the show now. Jimmy is born for elder law. And we’re getting some backstory on Mike. Till the next episode!
Episode Six: Five-O
Number six definitely has some of the best scenes of the series. Cinematography, sound design, the plot itself. Great episode all around. BCS is simply on another level.
- Why are these opening shots always so pretty looking? We have this almost POV train shot.
- And there’s the woman from the stare-down. However, it’s still unclear exactly who she is at this point.
- The many uses of pads. 😀 I guess it’s better to sneak in the ladies room for one than to buy a box at Walmart.
- And now it’s revealed who this woman is…if you’re familiar with “Breaking Bad,” I guess.
- Another “Breaking Bad” cameo. The vet/surgeon.
- We’re back to the present, and Mike wants a lawyer. Very cool use of transition there.
- I love this whole exchange with Jimmy and the cops. The timeline of events is important to remember.
Start at the beginning. I’m talking book of Genesis.
- Jimmy is Mike’s lawyer: watch it here.
- Flashback. I remember a lot of these scenes but I don’t remember them all being in season one. Interesting. The muted music in this scene is perfect.
- Mike is such a badass! Bad. Ass. The first time I saw this episode, Mike had me fooled. You could almost feel the vengeance through the screen.
- Incredible scene. Give this man an award.
As a backstory junkie, this particular episode is amazing. This show is so full of important moments that help define the characters that you think you know. Mike is always so stoic, so to see him break down is something else. One of the common complaints I’ve heard about BCS is how slow it is. Compared to BB, sure. But this show is character driven. I would much rather dissect characters than watch people getting shot and stabbed and strangled, know what I mean? Which is ironic considering how this episode ends. Hopefully, you see my point. Now, time for some bingo.
Episode Seven: Bingo
- I feel like it’s been too long since I’ve mentioned my adoration for Bob Odenkirk. Consider this your reminder.
Chuck, I’m so proud of you.
- REMEMBER THIS, FOLKS. Remember this.
- Very smooth indeed with those files. He knows Chuck can’t have legal work just sitting there waiting to be done.
- “Dream big, I say.” That’s what I say!!!
- This is heartbreaking. Jimmy’s heart is so big. Kim shoots him down. Ow, it hurts.
- Why are these people back?! These freaking Kettlemans. “A ‘deal’ is what they got OJ.” Ha!
- Watching Jimmy announce (?) bingo is one of my favorite scenes in this whole series.
- And now the Kettlemans want Jimmy back. How convenient. He called them Ned and Maude Flanders. Love it.
- Ooo, they got him with the money. Thirty grand. Bummer.
- The same shot as the pilot with Kim and the cigarette. Awesome. Nothing is accidental on this show. They have a style with meticulous detail.
- Mike and Jimmy need their own show…but like, another show.
- I think Pinkman hid his money under the sink, too. Must be the place.
- I love what Jimmy did for Kim. And he gave up his chance at the big office to do so. And she has no idea! My heart.
- Watch when Jimmy visits the Kettlemans, here.
- ←This scene! ❤
- He’s going to have to pay for that door. :)
Doing the right thing is hard, and in time, it will prove to be too hard for Jimmy. Love this episode. It has everything I love about the show.
Episode Eight: Rico
- Another flashback. As much as this is an achievement for Jimmy, I must admit, I can see this from Chuck’s side. I totally get it. All this congrats from him is for show.
- Jimmy just wants Chuck to be proud of him.
- Howard wants a minute. This can’t end well. No audio. How cruel. You can only assume what’s been said.
- Of course Howard gets all the credit for Kim’s work with the Kettleman case.
- I love the Sandpiper Crossing storyline so much.
- Chuck did the wills. Shocking.
- Ha! They’re shredding the documents.
- Maybe it was the epic dumpster dive that hooked me the first time around. I mean, wow. Just wow. Why didn’t he wear different clothes? Use gloves? Geez.
I’m at the opera.
- This is so epic. At least they’re color coded.
- The Jimmy/Chuck relationship is so complicated. I’ve said it before, I know. OMG, the hug. The hug. I can’t.
- The light coming through the blinds is beautiful. Side note.
- Chuck is in his element. Twenty million?! It’s nice to see him as something other than the guy with the silver cape, you know?
- Wow. It’s like he forgot about his condition. Watch this scene here.
This particular episode sets up what will continue through many future episodes. To see these brothers as they are now and to know what’s coming not too long from now is almost hard to watch.
Episode Nine: Pimento
- Getting someone a dog is a nice gesture and all, but geez. They’re also a lot of work and responsibility, especially a puppy.
- Aww, Chuck wants to bring in HHM. What a blow.
- Chuck can be so devious. Who is he calling???
- ←I thought this scene was in Breaking Bad! It’s so good. Mike in the parking garage.
- That guy is HUGE! I wonder if they did some kind of camera trickery. They must’ve.
- This Pryce guy is perfectly cast.
- Uncle Fester. Ha! Have I mentioned Mike is a badass?
- Chuck’s welcome back is so nice! But can you imagine people tossing their phones into a bin these days?! No. way.
- Oh! The pain! Jimmy thought’d he get an office. Chuck knew. Oh, Chuck knew.
- This is about so much more than money.
- WHOA! SHOTS FIRED!
- I love how Kim sticks up for Jimmy to Howard. But he is such a prick, my God.
- I was wondering where Nacho has been. Is Pryce great or what?
- Poor Kim. First she gets yelled out by Howard. Then she gets yelled at by Jimmy.
- Jimmy is playing his own game of chicken right now. Chuck is exposed. He called HHM. So did Chuck not know there would be a record of him calling on Jimmy’s phone? Hmm, maybe not, if he’s not familiar with cell phones.
- OMG, this scene between Chuck and Jimmy. This scene is fantastic. Literally everything about it. “You’re not a real lawyer.”
Slippin’ Jimmy with a law degree is like a chimp with a machine gun.
- As hard to watch as this is, and how cruel this is, I can see Chuck’s side. Part of it. The part where Chuck worked hard to get a law degree, and here Jimmy, who he does not see as an equal, manages to get the same degree the easy way. It’s a slap in the face.
- And that is how you end an episode. Watch the scene here.
Episode Ten: Marco
- Another scam flashback. Gotta love it. This flashback shirt is louder than the last one.
- Howard is so annoying. I don’t believe anything he says.
- It’s the little things, like showing that dented trashcan. Such meticulous attention to detail and continuity.
- Yay! More Bingo! That “Price is Right” microphone. Oh, this is painful. I didn’t remember Jimmy was married before. Hmm.
- The sunroof story, an instant classic. There were kids in the backseat?! HA! All their faces.
I did not know that his children were in the backseat. There was a level of tint…
- He’s having a nervous breakdown.
- His old stomping ground. Makes sense. Wow, ten years he’s been gone. Ooo, he didn’t see his friend when he was in town. Bummer.
- This coin scheme. Pretty brilliant, really.
- Time for a montage.
- That Kevin Costner line. I love how they included that, because of this quote from Breaking Bad:
- I love how Jimmy and Marco spent a week together, and Jimmy never mentioned he was a lawyer.
- Well, he died doing what he loved. There’s that, at least. It was the greatest week of his life? Aww.
- The ring?! How did I forget this stuff. I love discovering the origins of little details.
- It’s Ernesto! I didn’t realize he was in season one.
- Man, he didn’t go in. He had such an opportunity.
- Boom. Mic drop. ^
- Smoke on the Water! When Jimmy and Marco were first doing their Rolex scam, Marco was humming this song while on the ground. It’s like “their song.” How cute is that.
- So that’s the end of season one. It didn’t end where I remember it ending. You can watch the final scene here.
Season One Final Thoughts
I don’t know where to start.
Obviously, I should start with the man himself, but I think the casting in general is spot on. Everyone is so, so good. What the show does well is humanize “Saul Goodman.” We’re starting to get an idea of where he comes from and what makes him tick. There are essentially three main storylines in BCS. You have Jimmy of course, then there’s Mike and his backstory, and finally the drug side of things, which season one only hints at.
The Jimmy story line — with Kim, with Chuck, with his clients, with morality in general — is why I watch this show. And why I’m watching it again. I just really love this character. He’s much more complicated than what Saul Goodman makes you believe. It comes down to character at the end of the day. You can have all the action you want, but if you don’t like the character, who cares? And Bob Odenkirk is just…ah, I love him.
The writing is excellent. The stories themselves, the dialogue. The writers help us remember this is the same world as “Breaking Bad.” We’re in the same universe. Hell, the same town. So I love the nods to BB. I’d have to say, based on season one alone, but also knowing what comes, the brother relationship is my absolute favorite. It’s complicated. Heartwarming one second, heart wrenching the next. The characters are also all believable because of how well written they are. Why they’re not swimming in awards is beyond me.
And Mike? In BB, Mike came across as this stoic, man of few words, badass. We really didn’t know much about him, other than he had a granddaughter. So it was cool to dig into his past with this series. And what a past! Mike is such a layered character — so much more to him than the BB version. His scenes with Jimmy were hilarious. Their chemistry was fun to watch.
I’d also like to mention — again — the cinematography. Some of these shots look like a movie. Perhaps, if you’re not looking for them, you don’t notice. But maybe now you’ll take note. Some beautiful shots, just the way things are framed, the angles used, that kind of thing. Look for that in season two.
Top 3 Scenes of Season 1
3. Mike explains what happened to his son.
2. Jimmy’s billboard stunt — everything leading to it and its aftermath.
- Chuck tells Jimmy how he really feels about his law degree. (To me, this is the scene of the entire season.)
The end of season one leaves us with Jimmy making a major decision. The week he spent reliving the past with his friend sort of changed his direction, or his way of thinking about his path in life. He has decided doing the right thing isn’t for him. We’ll see how this decision pans out in season two.
Listen, I watched season one in three days. I tried so hard to wait another day to start season two, but I caved. I do think I’ll slow down though. No promises. OK, season 2, bring it on.
Season 2 will be posted soon...
Originally published at http://laurenseewrites.wordpress.com.