After Breaking Bad, I had come to a vague conclusion that no show ever could match its brilliance. So, even though I was very much aware of the fact that Better Call Saul is a well-made spinoff of Breaking Bad which is regarded by many as the best show ever made on earth, I was not to indulge any more in that world of good vs bad, family vs cartel, right choices vs wrong choices. It was my dear old friend who almost forced me to start giving myself a chance. And upon his persistent persuasions, I finally gave in and began my tryst with Better Call Saul, lovingly referred as BCS by us. And the first lesson I learnt within just a few episodes, never come to any conclusion purely on the basis of perception without having the first-hand experience of something. Better Call Saul is an experience of a lifetime, to be savoured and to be shared.
Breaking Bad with its cult storyline has many similarities with its successor (or predecessor?). In BB, it was the transformation of a simpleton school teacher to a drug monster. It was the transformation of family loving Walter to money loving Heisenberg. In BCS, its about the transformation of the happy-go-lucky Jimmy McGill to the notorious conman Saul Goodman. But Breaking Bad didn’t try to be non-linear for a single moment. Maybe that was the moot point why it had gained such universal approval. BCS takes the tougher path and shines gloriously. It is like a time travel. It is about stories within stories. BB was happy to portray human angst and desperation in time of crisis. It was about how greed turns a man to a monster. But it stayed within the boundary of a thriller. Better Call Saul is more about exploring the intricacies of human relations, changing dynamics of inter-personal complexities, decaying values. It’s perplexing, non-linear and sheer experimentation with human emotions where a scene of smear of blood oozing out from a skull is succeeded by Goodman chomping on a piece of meat dipped in red sauce. Marvellous!
Breaking Bad was about hellraisers. BCS is about that hell. Breaking Bad had wider scopes to explore every single character as the narrative was straightforward and the number of key characters was less. BCS had the tougher task as it had to show the background of some of the already known characters and it introduced so many new characters. Just think about the character of Nacho Varga. Even though you don’t really appreciate his ways or choices, you cannot stop loving or rooting for him in some nail-biting scenes. Chuck is another character built with so much care, so much passion, so much craft and so many complex layers. Same about Howard Hamlin. You tend to forget what is right and what is wrong which I think an aspect of BCS conspicuously absent in the mother show. Comedy in BB was limited to the chemistry of Walter and Jesse. BCS takes comedy seriously! And transformation from a comic scene to gory murder is frequent and flawless. Camera works in both the shows are top-notch but BCS is a bit ahead maybe because of the advanced technology in the time gap between the two shows. Another aspect where BCS overpowers its illustrious predecessor is music. From the Bengali song Henna Henna to the mellifluous adaptation of Nancy Sinatra’s Sugar Town, from the classical Laundry Workers to the foot tapping romantic Something Stupid, music of BCS is a revelation. Did I forget to mention that Rhea Seehorn made the show much more exciting than Breaking Bad where the protagonist ladies often played spoilsports.
Both the shows in my opinion are unparallel, incomparable and unique in their own style and right. Nothing can ever take the credit from Breaking Bad for what it has done to the TV industry. But Better Call Saul deserves standing ovation in its own right. Personally, I found BCS more enchanting. But that’s absolutely a personal choice. Let’s celebrate the victory of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould who have given us such back-to-back masterpieces. Life of a film buff like me would have remained incomplete without these two.