Spoiler Warning for the Season 3 Premiere of “Better Call Saul.”
Since its debut back in 2015, AMC’s “Better Call Saul” has mostly flown under the radar, while still managing to garner up several award nominations. As the prequel to “Breaking Bad,” fans have enjoyed the narrative that has been filled with several links and easter eggs to the original series. Now in its third season, the slow burn of the series is really starting to pay off as the story steadily transitions into “Breaking Bad” territory. While this episode is fantastic, it does suffer from the fact that the last episode nearly a year ago, making it somewhat difficult to remember where everything left off. What trouble will Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) get into this season?
Keeping in line with the previous season premieres, this episode kicks off with a flash forward to the events after “Breaking Bad” when Gene aka Saul Goodman aka Jimmy McGill is working at a Cinnabon in Omaha, just as he predicted in “BB.” This particular flash forward shows him trying to stay away from any unnecessary attention to prevent his true identity from being revealed; considering he was heavily involved with Walter White, it is definitely possible that the feds are looking for him. “Gene” does draw attention to himself when he yells at a mall shoplifter to get a lawyer. While working, he passes out for unknown reasons, opening up the possibility of more flash forwards; will “Gene” be caught or will he continue living in secrecy? His collapse will most likely lead to him being taken to the hospital, which may lead to police questioning. Seeing these flash fowards really help to expand the franchise’s universe and allow the viewer to see where our favorite sleazy lawyer ends up in life.
As for the present timeline of the show, things pick up exactly where they left off in last season’s finale. In the final moments of the finale, Jimmy confesses to Chuck (Michael McKean) that he tampered with documents in the Mesa Verde case; it is revealed that Chuck secretly recorded the confession. Jimmy is completely unaware of Chuck’s sneakiness and there seems to be a moment of reunification between the two brothers as they think back to their childhood. Chuck is seemingly cured of his electromagnetic sensitivity and Jimmy helps him remove the aluminum coverings from his house. This episode really solidifies my hatred of Chuck as a person; from his overly-dramatic personality to his dehumanizing treatment of others, Chuck is pretty much the worst. Of course, Chuck doesn’t let this cheery moment last as he starts blabbing on about how he will never forget what Jimmy told him; while we don’t know the status of Chuck during the events of “Breaking Bad,” it would be interesting to see him react to the troubles that Jimmy/Saul gets into during that time.
Chuck’s drama continues as his assistant Ernesto (Brandon K. Hampton) stops by the house to deliver some groceries, but “accidentally” hears some of the secret recording. This causes Chuck to lash out at Ernesto and swear him to secrecy. It isn’t exactly clear, but this doesn’t seem like an accident and Chuck seems to be up to something shady. Regardless, Ernesto needs to quit and let Chuck fend for himself; no one should have to put up with Chuck’s shit. There’s also more uncertainty surrounding the recording as Howard (Patrick Fabian) pays a visit to Chuck where he explains that Jimmy will certainly defend himself should they take him to court; he also states that a secret recording would not be admissible in court and that they would likely lose over it. While Chuck may irritate the living hell out of me, I am really enjoying what they are doing with the character and Michael McKean delivers an incredibly strong performance.
This episode also follows Mike as he struggles with paranoia after his attempt to assassinate Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) in the desert is mysteriously halted in last season’s finale; if you remember, a note was left behind on his car with the single word “don’t,” leaving fans speculating that a certain chicken restaurant owner would be making a return. While he may be slightly panicking, Mike maintains his composure as he drives his car to a junkyard and proceeds to check every crack and crevice for a tracking device; I naively believed that he was looking for a bomb, only to feel rather dumb when he ultimately discovers the tracking device in the gas cap. Being the intelligent sleuth that he is, Mike drains the tracker’s battery before switching it out with another that he can track himself; by draining the battery in the original tracker, the person tracking him is prompted to retrieve it, effectively leaving with the one that Mike planted. Are you confused? I certainly was while watching. This is partly why I love this show so much; you’re only given bits and pieces of information, allowing you to think about what is happening before the full picture is revealed to you.
The rest of the premiere episode deals with the newly established law office of Jimmy and Kim. Their clients are mostly elderly people, which makes for some truly hilarious scenes of the two dealing with some ridiculous requests and discussions. One scene shows Kim going over the extreme specifics of an elderly woman’s will; don’t forget to add your lily pond, because a pesky judge might not consider it to be part of your backyard. There’s also Jimmy trying to get an oversharing woman out the door so that he can help his other clients; don’t worry, she’ll be back with more of her family photo albums. While helping the clients may be easy, Jimmy faces a harder task when he comes face to face with the Air Force officer from last season; Jimmy tricked this officer into allowing him and a man posing as a decorated war hero onto the base, where he secretly filmed a commercial for the law office. Jimmy doesn’t back down and essentially threatens the officer, causing him to stand down, but something tells me that this conflict isn’t over. This episode also spends a considerable amount of time with Kim, who has quickly become one of my favorite characters. She struggles to commit to her Mesa Verde clients after learning what Jimmy did to secure them for her; she wants to be successful with them, but there is clear guilt there. One fantastic scene shows her conflicted over the appropriate punctuation to use in the law documents, worried that she will make a minor mistake and ruin everything. This particular scene makes me love the character even more; there have been many times that I have pondered whether to end a sentence with a period or continue it with a semicolon.
The Season Premiere of “Better Call Saul” continues with the slow burn of the series, something that I truly love as it allows viewers to get to know the characters more, while seeing the transition into the events of “Breaking Bad.” Speaking of the original series, it is definitely more apparent that the lurking force of Gus Fring is near and I absolutely cannot wait to see Giancarlo Esposito back on my television screen again. From Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks to Michael McKean and Rhea Seehorn, the acting in “Better Call Saul” blows me away. The actors are able to make the most simple and minimalist scenes totally gripping and fascinating to watch. As the season proceeds, I expect the relationship between Kim and Jimmy to evolve and change, but I am beginning to worry about Kim’s long term safety; let’s not forget that Kim isn’t in “Breaking Bad” and her death may just be the final switch that flips Jimmy to Saul. Be sure to tune into “Better Call Saul” next Monday at 10 p.m. on AMC.