Better Call Saul Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Meet Jimmy McGill

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The moment we've been waiting for since the Breaking Bad finale has finally arrived. 

Better Call Saul Season 1 Episode 1 begins the tale of just how Saul Goodman came to be our favorite criminal defense attorney. And also a criminal.

Was it everything we hoped it would be and then some? Absolutely.

The story begins in Omaha, Nebraska, which Breaking Bad Season 5 watchers will remember as the place to which Saul Goodman was extracted. He's no longer a lawyer and spends his days sporting a push-broom 'stache and making smoothies at a mall Cinnabon. It's a far cry from his glory days of embezzlement and slick-tongued legal-speak.

This is a deeply unhappy man who goes home at night and drinks while watching one of his commercials on a VHS tape. (It's 2010 at that point, at least, so the fact that he still has a working VCR is pretty hilarious.)

As it turns out, his current state of despondence isn't that different from the place he was six years prior, which is where the story really begins.

Jimmy McGill is a two-bit attorney who can't pay his bills. He can't get clients or win cases. No one takes him seriously and he has little to no confidence in himself. He drives a beat up car. 

But he's smart. Maybe a little too smart. And maybe that's what got him into so much trouble down the road. Or will get him into trouble, rather. It's a little tough knowing how he ends up and how he gets there and not looking at every move he makes along the way as another step toward his inevitable downfall. Maybe that's what we're supposed to do.

I, for one, am rooting for him. 

He's a con man, for sure, but there's something about a guy who's down on his luck and waiting for one big break that creates the perfect sort of underdog. Yes, he's going to make questionable decisions, but in his mind at least, he's making them for the right reasons, even if one of those reasons is his own personal gain.

Another reason he's determined to make it is because he's not just worried about himself. His father brother, Chuck, a partner in a prestigious law firm, has a bizarre phobia of electromagnetic fields and hasn't been to work in over a year. Jimmy wants him to cash out and call it quits, but Chuck can't do that. He's holding on to the hope that one day, he'll beat this fear and return to the legal world. In the meantime, it's on Jimmy's shoulders to support them both.

To that end, Jimmy turns to less than legal means to try and beef up a client list.

After a couple of skateboarders attempt to con him, Jimmy remembers a time when he was a young man in Chicago. He would slip on the ice outside a fancy store and settle with the owners, using the money for beer and fun until it ran out. His grand plan to build a practice is to apply that same principal but, this time, he's on the other side of the table. The skateboarders are the perfect duo to help carry out this plan which goes whacky and awry like any good Goodman plan does.

Thus begins Jimmy's entrance into the world of ambulance chasing and putting the criminal in criminal defense attorney. 

What's going to be great about Better Call Saul is the untapped opportunity for storytelling creators Gilligan and Gould have here. Already in this episode we've seen callbacks to the Saul we know from Breaking Bad. 

For instance, his office is in the back room of a Vietnamese nail salon, likely the same salon he tried to get Jesse to buy in order to launder his money. A white Cadillac is parked next to his yellow disaster of a vehicle as he exits the courthouse. He's not nearly as flamboyantly dressed yet, but he still has a fascination with his hair. 

There are also the other characters whose stories we'll be able to watch unfold in a way we couldn't on Breaking Bad.

Mike Ehrmantraut's first appearance in Better Call Saul was unassuming, just like Mike. He's working as a toll booth operator at the courthouse. He's a stickler for the rules because keeping up appearances of being a law-abiding citizen is important in Mike's line of work. 

And then there's Tuco Salamanca. He's still seems as crazy as he ever was, but seeing just how crazy is certainly going to be fun.

The season premiere is a two-night event, so we'll be back to review Better Call Saul Season 1 Episode 2 tomorrow night. If you missed the first episode, you can watch Better Call Saul online right here.

What did you think of "Uno?" How excited are you to learn about the history of Saul Goodman? Whose story are you most excited to see unfold: Mike, Saul or Tuco?


Uno Review

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Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Better Call Saul Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Lawyers, we're like health insurance. You hope you never need it, but man oh man, when you do...


You know, Jimmy, sometimes in our line of work, you can get so caught up in the idea of winning that you forget to listen to your heart.