I was right and wrong about Better Call Saul in my review of its inaugural outing last week. Firstly, as some have been quick to point out, there were indeed Breaking Bad references in the first episode. That said, they didn’t amount to Walter White cameos (well, not really), so all is forgiven.
The second episode is where BCS has showcased its potential. It’s the car showroom of television, and it’s a good ‘un. Picking up from where it left off last week, we’re reintroduced to Tuco Salamanca, played by the ageless Raymond Cruz. Without going into too much detail, it might be fair to say all of the enjoyment of this episode comes from watching the skater twins continue to insult his grandmother. Cruz’s eyes glaze, and like those macabre YouTube videos billed as ‘don’t piss off nature’; we watch behind linked fingers waiting for the damage.
Cruz, resuming the role seven years after his first appearance – but playing it seven years before that, if you’re still with me – is poised as a psychotic, but noticeably less methed up. Indeed, a passing reference gives a clue to his future business and it will be interesting to see if this plays a part down the road.
Bob Odenkirk remains on form as always and was brazenly more Saul-like this episode. Of the key scene, involving leg-breaking for those who’ve not yet tuned in, it’s as I suspected – this isn’t the breakdown of Walter White, this is the peeling back of the trying-to-be-good James McGill and letting his inner-Saul shine right through.
Does this make it a cop-out? Not at all. There’re allusions to his nefarious cons in the past, but getting from small time crook to drug dealer consigliere connected to everyone is another matter altogether.
Of where it’s all heading? I don’t know. What I do keep telling myself though is House of Cards is released in full at the end of February. It’s a curious thing for the studio to have released the first two episodes in the first week but nothing further, particularly when it’s so slow moving. Vince Gilligan knows he has credit to his name and I can only hope the payoff is so good that the eventual addition to the show is bitterly painful until the next hit. I’ll let you know.