Better Call Saul

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Better Call Saul
Text "Better Call Saul" with drawn set of balance scales to the right
Genre
Created by
Starring
Theme music composerLittle Barrie
Composer(s)Dave Porter
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes50 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
Production location(s)Albuquerque, New Mexico
CinematographyArthur Albert
Marshall Adams
Running time41–60 minutes
Production company(s)
DistributorSony Pictures Television
Release
Original networkAMC
Picture format
Audio format5.1
Original releaseFebruary 8, 2015 (2015-02-08) –
present
Chronology
Preceded byBreaking Bad
Related showsTalking Saul
External links
Website
Production website

Better Call Saul is an American television crime drama series created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. It is a prequel and spin-off of Gilligan's prior series Breaking Bad. Set in the early to mid 2000s, the series follows the story of con-man turned small-time lawyer Jimmy McGill (played by Bob Odenkirk), beginning six years before the events of Breaking Bad and showing his transformation into the persona of criminal for hire Saul Goodman. McGill becomes the lawyer for former police officer Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), whose skills allow him to enter the criminal underworld of drug trafficking in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The show premiered on AMC on February 8, 2015, airing five seasons to date. A sixth and final season is scheduled to air in 2021.[5]

McGill is initially working as a low-paid lawyer, with the back room of a nail salon as his home and office. His friend and romantic interest Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) works as a lawyer at the firm of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill (HHM), where she and Jimmy once worked in the mailroom. Partners at HHM include Jimmy's nemesis Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) and his brother Chuck McGill (Michael McKean). Ehrmantraut conducts illegal drug distribution with Nacho Varga (Michael Mando), in addition to becoming right-hand man for drug lord Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) who runs a chain of fast food restaurants as a business front. Their operations are disrupted by members of the Salamanca crime family, including Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton). Odenkirk, Banks, and Esposito all reprise their roles from Breaking Bad.

Better Call Saul has received critical acclaim, with particular praise for its acting, characters, and cinematography; many critics have called it a worthy successor to Breaking Bad and one of the best prequels ever made, with some deeming it superior to its predecessor.[6][7][8] It has garnered many nominations, including a Peabody Award, 23 Primetime Emmy Awards, eleven Writers Guild of America Awards, five Critics' Choice Television Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and two Golden Globe Awards. The series premiere held the record for the highest-rated scripted series premiere in basic cable history at the time of its airing.

Premise[edit]

Better Call Saul follows the transformation of James "Jimmy" McGill (Bob Odenkirk), a former con artist who is trying to become a respectable lawyer, into the personality of the flamboyant criminal lawyer Saul Goodman (a play on the phrase "[it]'s all good, man!"), over the six-year period prior to the events of Breaking Bad; spanning from approximately 2002 to 2008.[9][10]

Jimmy is inspired to turn his life around from his past con-man approach, where he was known as "Slippin' Jimmy", by his older brother Chuck McGill (Michael McKean), a senior partner alongside Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) in the Albuquerque law firm Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, as well as Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), one of the firm's legal associates who becomes Jimmy's romantic interest.

Jimmy's initial pursuits during this period are focused on the public defense and earnest attempts to fight for proper justice while trying to get ahead; although soon after, his life and career starts to intersect with the illegal drug trade in the region, featuring characters and story arcs that continue into Breaking Bad. This includes the uneasy truce between the Salamanca family that serves the Juárez Cartel drug interest, later led by Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) when their patriarch falls ill, and Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), a restaurant entrepreneur that uses his stores as a front for the drug trade. Among those caught up in these events include Ignacio "Nacho" Varga (Michael Mando), an enforcer for the Salamancas who only wants to protect his father from harm, and Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), a former police officer who becomes a fixer for Gus.

The show also includes flash-forwards at the start of each season's premiere following the events of Breaking Bad; where Saul has paid to take on a new identity as Gene Takavic, the manager of a Cinnabon store in Omaha, Nebraska.

Production[edit]

Conception[edit]

Better Call Saul was developed by Vince Gilligan (left) and Peter Gould.

Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould began planning a television spinoff of Breaking Bad as early as 2009. While filming the Breaking Bad episode "Full Measure", Gilligan asked Bob Odenkirk, the actor of Saul Goodman, what he thought of a spinoff of the show.[11] In July 2012, Gilligan hinted at a possible Goodman spinoff,[12] stating that he liked "the idea of a lawyer show in which the main lawyer will do anything it takes to stay out of a court of law", including settling on the courthouse steps.[13] During his appearance on Talking Bad, Odenkirk noted that Saul was one of the most popular characters on the show, speculating that the audience likes the character because he is "the program's least hypocritical figure", and "is good at his job".[14]

Gilligan noted that over the course of Breaking Bad, there were a lot of "what if"s their team considered, such as if the show won a Primetime Emmy Award, or if people would buy "Los Pollos Hermanos" T-shirts. The staff did not expect these events to come to fruition, but after they did, they started considering a spin-off featuring Saul as a thought experiment. Furthermore, Saul's character on Breaking Bad became much more developed than the staff had planned, as he was originally slated to appear in only three episodes. With the growth of Saul's character, Gilligan saw ways to explore the character further.[15]

Development[edit]

In April 2013, Better Call Saul was confirmed to be in development by Gilligan and Gould; the latter wrote the Breaking Bad episode that introduced the character.[16][17] As of July 2013, the series had yet to be greenlighted.[18] Netflix was one of many interested distributors, but ultimately a deal was made between AMC and Breaking Bad production company Sony Pictures Television.[19] Gilligan and Gould serve as co-showrunners, and Gilligan directed the pilot.[20] Former Breaking Bad writers Thomas Schnauz and Gennifer Hutchison joined the writing staff, with Schnauz serving as co-executive producer and Hutchison as supervising producer.[21] Also on the writing staff are Bradley Paul, as well as former writer's assistant (for Breaking Bad) Gordon Smith.[20]

As Sony and AMC began to commit to a spinoff, Gilligan and Gould worked on what it would be about. They initially considered making it a half-hour show where Saul would see various clients – celebrities in guest roles – in his strip mall office, a format similar to Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, but they had no idea how to write for this type of format, and fell back onto planning for hour-long episodes.[22][16][13] Since they had done this format with Breaking Bad, which Gilligan said was "25-percent humor, 75-percent drama", the two considered reversing that for Better Call Saul.[22] While the intent was to add more humor, the show remained heavy with dramatic elements, with Odenkirk calling the first season "85 percent drama, 15 percent comedy."[23] Additionally, while several of the characters are lawyers in the show, Gilligan and Gould did not want to write a legal show, but instead a crime show but one that would necessitate some legal elements. To help in these areas, the writers did speak to real lawyers and spent time observing cases at Los Angeles Superior Court, observing that the bulk of the activity in these cases was downtime on waiting for others to complete actions.[24]

Gilligan and Gould found that the character of Saul Goodman was not sufficient to carry the show by himself, with Gilligan calling the character of Saul "great flavoring" for a show but not the substance.[22] They came to realize that Saul, in the Breaking Bad timeframe, was a man that had come to accept himself, and recognized the potential to tell the story of how Saul got to be that person.[22] Gilligan and Gould had already committed to the Better Call Saul title, so that going this route, they believed they had to quickly get from Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman or otherwise would disappoint their audience. However, as they wrote the show, they realized "we don't want to get to Saul Goodman … and that's the tragedy".[22] Gilligan and Gould had learned several lessons related to foreshadowing without writing the foresight for it from Breaking Bad,[25] and so with Better Call Saul, gave themselves more flexibly in how the show's plot would develop over its run, and had no firm idea where it will end up outside the connection to Breaking Bad.[22] For example, Rhea Seehorn's performance as Kim Wexler during the first season significantly altered how the writers used her character in later seasons as well as slowed down the pacing of how fast they transitioned Jimmy into Saul, as they gave more focus to the Jimmy–Kim relationship. Gilligan compared this to the impact Aaron Paul's outstanding acting had on Breaking Bad's ultimate pacing.[26]

In writing for Better Call Saul, Gilligan and Gould recognized they were including overlaps with Breaking Bad, and had ideas of characters they would include, such as Gus Fring, though on no set timetable within the show's development. Gilligan described the writing approach as if developing two separate shows, one that centers on Jimmy/Saul, Kim, Chuck, and Howard, and a second on the more familiar Breaking Bad characters like Mike and Gus with some overlap, as if they were giving the audience two shows for one.[22] Where possible, they had written in minor Breaking Bad characters in smaller parts or as Easter eggs to fans, but for major Breaking Bad characters like Walter or Jesse, Gilligan preferred only to include them if their inclusion did not feel shoehorned in and feel less satisfactory to both the production team and to audiences.[22] Because of the closeness to the Breaking Bad storyline, one of the writers was tasked at the start of each season to rewatch all 62 episodes of the show and verify the scripts for the Better Call Saul season did not introduce any conflicts.[27]

Casting[edit]

Bob Odenkirk stars as lawyer Jimmy McGill (known as Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad). In January 2014, it was announced that Jonathan Banks would reprise his Breaking Bad role as Mike Ehrmantraut and be a series regular.[28]

New cast members include Michael McKean as McGill's elder brother Chuck. McKean previously guest-starred in an episode of Odenkirk's Mr. Show and Gilligan's X-Files episode "Dreamland".[29][30] The cast also includes Patrick Fabian as Howard Hamlin, Rhea Seehorn as Kimberly "Kim" Wexler, and Michael Mando as Ignacio "Nacho" Varga.[31] In October 2014, Kerry Condon was cast[32] as Stacey Ehrmantraut, Mike's daughter-in-law. In November 2014, it was announced that Julie Ann Emery and Jeremy Shamos had been cast as Betsy and Craig Kettleman, described as "the world's squarest outlaws."[33]

Going into Season 3, it was announced that Giancarlo Esposito would return to play his Breaking Bad character Gus Fring.[34]

Tony Dalton was announced as Lalo Salamanca for Season 4;[35] Lalo had been a character mentioned only by name, alongside Nacho, in the Breaking Bad episode "Better Call Saul".[36]

Dean Norris, another Breaking Bad alumnus, stated he could not be part of the earlier seasons, partly due to his involvement in the CBS series Under the Dome,[37] but was announced as a guest star reprising his role as Hank Schrader by Season 5.[38]

Other Breaking Bad actors have spoken of the potential of being on Better Call Saul. Both Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul said, as of Season 3, they are both open to reappearing on the show as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, respectively, if asked, believing that Gilligan would have a sufficiently good reason to bring them in.[39] Paul had previously mentioned the possibility of a cameo during Season 1 but this fell through.[40][41] Anna Gunn also mentioned a "talk" with Gilligan over possible guest appearances as Skyler White.[42] Gilligan said that by Season 3 that show had been on long enough that any reuse of Breaking Bad characters would require more than "just a cameo or an Alfred Hitchcock walkthrough", and that their appearances would need to be essential for the story.[39]

Filming and production[edit]

Like its predecessor, Better Call Saul is set and filmed primarily in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico.[43] Notable locations include the Twisters restaurant used previously in Breaking Bad for Gus's Los Pollos Hermanos, a parking lot kiosk at the Albuquerque Convention Center for where Mike worked in the first few seasons, the Old Bernalillo County Courthouse as the local courthouse, and two nearby office buildings in the North Valley, include Northrop Grumman's, that collectively are used for the HHM office spaces. Jimmy's back office is located in an actual nail salon, which the producers accommodated by working with the owners, while the Salamanca's restaurant is also a real business in the South Valley that production modified a bit for the show, but which otherwise remained open. The scenes set in Omaha are actually filmed at Cottonwood Mall in Albuquerque; production worked with Cinnabon to bring in the period-specific equipment and service items for the segments, and the extras in the store during these scenes are Cinnabon employees.[44] Additional filming took place at Albuquerque Studios.[45] The New Mexico Film Office reported that the first four seasons of Better Call Saul had brought in over US$120 million into the state, and has hired 1,600 crew for each season and a cumulative 11,300 extras.[46]

Filming for the pilot started on June 2, 2014.[47]

Better Call Saul also employs Breaking Bad's signature time jumps.[48] Notably, each season's opening episode has started with a black and white flash-forward to a period in the years after the finale of Breaking Bad where Saul has been relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, as "Gene", a manager of a Cinnabon store, remaining paranoid about anyone discovering his past identity.

Broadcast and marketing[edit]

The first teaser trailer debuted on AMC on August 10, 2014, and confirmed its premiere date of February 2015.[49] In November 2014, AMC announced the series would have a two-night premiere; the first episode aired on Sunday, February 8, 2015, at 10:00 pm (ET), and then moved into its regular time slot the following night, airing Mondays at 10:00 pm.[50]

In June 2014, prior to the series' launch, AMC had renewed the series for a second season of 13 episodes to premiere in early 2016;[20] however, it was later reduced to 10 episodes.[51] In May 2015, Gilligan confirmed that more of the prominent characters from Breaking Bad would be making guest appearances in season 2, but remained vague on which characters were likely to be seen.[52] The second season premiered on February 15, 2016.[53]

In March 2016, AMC announced that Better Call Saul was renewed for a 10-episode third season which premiered April 10, 2017.[54][55] Following the season's end in June 2017, AMC renewed the series for a 10-episode fourth season which premiered on August 6, 2018.[56][57]

The series was renewed for a fifth season on July 28, 2018, just prior to the airing of the fourth season.[58] The fifth season was not expected to air until 2020; according to AMC's Sarah Barnett, the delay was "driven by talent needs".[59] Filming for the fifth season started in April 2019, and finished in September 2019.[60][61] AMC later affirmed the ten-episode fifth season will start airing with a special Sunday broadcast on February 23, 2020, with following episodes to air on Mondays.[62]

In January 2020, AMC renewed the series for a sixth season that is scheduled to air in 2021,[63] though will depend on whether they will be able to film in the last part of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[64] Gould confirmed it will be the show's final season, and will consist of 13 episodes rather than the usual 10. This will bring the show's final episode count to 63, equal to the combined total of Breaking Bad and El Camino. Gould stated: "From the beginning when we started this, I think all our hopes and dreams were to be able to tell the whole story ... and make it to be a complete story from beginning to end. We're going to try like hell to stick the landing of these 63 episodes".[63]

Cast and characters[edit]

Main cast[edit]

Recurring cast[edit]

Introduced in season 1[edit]

  • Kerry Condon as Stacey Ehrmantraut, Mike's widowed daughter-in-law and the mother of Kaylee Ehrmantraut.
  • Faith Healey (season 1), Abigail Zoe Lewis (seasons 2–4) and Juliet Donenfeld (season 5) as Kaylee Ehrmantraut, Mike's granddaughter.
  • Eileen Fogarty as Mrs. Nguyen, owner of a nail salon which houses Jimmy's law office in its utility room.
  • Peter Diseth as Bill Oakley, a deputy district attorney.
  • Joe DeRosa as Dr. Caldera, a veterinarian with ties to the criminal underworld.
  • Dennis Boutsikaris as Rich Schweikart, a partner at Schweikart & Cokely.
  • Mark Proksch as Daniel "Pryce" Wormald, a drug company employee who begins supplying Nacho and hires Mike as security.
  • Brandon K. Hampton as Ernesto, Chuck's assistant who works at HHM.
  • Josh Fadem as Camera Guy, or Joey Dixon, one of the three University of New Mexico (UNM) film students who help Jimmy film various projects.
  • Julian Bonfiglio as Sound Guy, one of the three UNM film students Jimmy hires for various film projects.
  • Jeremy Shamos and Julie Ann Emery as Craig and Betsy Kettleman, a county treasurer and his wife, accused of embezzlement.
  • Steven Levine and Daniel Spenser Levine as Lars and Cal Lindholm, twin skateboarders and small-time scam artists.
  • Míriam Colón as Abuelita Salamanca, Tuco's grandmother and Hector's mother.
  • Barry Shabaka Henley as Detective Sanders, a Philadelphia cop who was formerly partnered with Mike on the force.
  • Mel Rodriguez as Marco Pasternak, Jimmy's best friend and partner-in-crime in Cicero, Illinois.
  • Clea DuVall as Dr. Cruz, a doctor who treats Chuck and suspects his electromagnetic hypersensitivity condition is psychosomatic.
  • Jean Effron as Irene Landry, an elderly client of Jimmy McGill overcharged by the Sandpiper Crossing elder care home.
  • Steven Ogg as Sobchak, a petty crook for hire.

Introduced in season 2[edit]

  • Ed Begley Jr. as Clifford Main, managing partner at Davis & Main.
  • Omar Maskati as Omar, Jimmy's assistant at Davis & Main.
  • Jessie Ennis as Erin Brill, a lawyer at Davis & Main who is ordered to shadow Jimmy.
  • Juan Carlos Cantu as Manuel Varga, Nacho's father who owns an upholstery shop.
  • Vincent Fuentes as Arturo Colon, a criminal associate of Hector Salamanca (seasons 2–4).
  • Rex Linn as Kevin Wachtell, chairman of Mesa Verde Bank and Trust and a client of HHM and Kim.
  • Cara Pifko as Paige Novick, senior legal counsel for Mesa Verde Bank and Trust and a friend of Kim.
  • Ann Cusack as Rebecca Bois, Chuck's ex-wife.
  • Manuel Uriza as Ximenez Lecerda, an associate of Hector Salamanca.
  • Hayley Holmes as Drama Girl, one of the three UNM film students Jimmy hires for various projects.

Introduced in season 3[edit]

Introduced in season 4[edit]

  • Rainer Bock as Werner Ziegler, an engineer hired by Gus to plan and oversee construction of his meth "superlab".
  • Ben Bela Böhm as Kai, a rebellious member of the crew Werner Ziegler assembles for the construction of Gus's meth "superlab".
  • Stefan Kapičić as Casper, a member of Werner Ziegler's team.
  • Poorna Jagannathan as Maureen Bruckner, a specialist from Johns Hopkins who flew to Albuquerque to treat Hector after Gus arranged for a "generous grant."

Introduced in season 5[edit]

  • Sasha Feldman and Morgan Krantz as Sticky and Ron, two petty crooks that are among "Saul Goodman"'s first clients.
  • Barry Corbin as Everett Acker, an old man living on leased property belonging to Mesa Verde who becomes a legal matter for Kim to evict to make way for the bank's new call center.

Breaking Bad characters[edit]

  • Raymond Cruz as Tuco Salamanca, a ruthless, psychopathic drug distributor in the South Valley. (seasons 1–2)
  • Cesar García as No-Doze, Tuco's henchman. (season 1)
  • Jesús Payán Jr. as Gonzo, Tuco's henchman. (season 1)
  • T.C. Warner as Nurse (season 1)
  • Kyle Bornheimer as Ken, an arrogant, self-absorbed stockbroker (season 2)
  • Stoney Westmoreland as Officer Saxton, an Albuquerque Police Department officer (season 2)
  • Jim Beaver as Lawson, a black market weapons dealer in Albuquerque (season 2)
  • Maximino Arciniega as Domingo "Krazy-8" Molina, one of Tuco's distributors (seasons 2–present)
  • Mark Margolis as Hector Salamanca, Tuco's uncle and high-ranking member of the cartel (seasons 2–present)
  • Debrianna Mansini as Fran, a waitress at Loyola's Diner (seasons 2, 4)
  • Daniel and Luis Moncada as Leonel and Marco Salamanca, Tuco's cousins and Hector's nephews who are hitmen for the cartel (seasons 2, 4–present)
  • Jennifer Hasty as Stephanie Doswell, a real estate agent (season 2)
  • Tina Parker as Francesca Liddy, Jimmy's receptionist (seasons 3–4)
  • Jeremiah Bitsui as Victor, Gus's henchman (seasons 3–present)
  • Ray Campbell as Tyrus Kitt, a henchman on Gus Fring's payroll (seasons 3–present)
  • JB Blanc as Dr. Barry Goodman, a doctor on Gus Fring's payroll (seasons 3–present)
  • Steven Bauer as Don Eladio Vuente, the head of the Juarez drug cartel (seasons 3 and 5)
  • Javier Grajeda as Juan Bolsa, a high-level member of the Juárez drug cartel (seasons 3–present)
  • Lavell Crawford as Huell Babineaux, a professional pickpocket hired by Jimmy (seasons 3–present)
  • Laura Fraser as Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, a Madrigal Electromotive executive and associate of Gus Fring (seasons 3–present)
  • Eric Steining as Nick, a member of Gus's security team, later managed by Mike. (seasons 4–present)
  • Franc Ross as Ira, a burglar Jimmy hires; in Breaking Bad, he is the owner of Vamonos Pest who appears in "Hazard Pay". (season 4)
  • David Costabile as Gale Boetticher, a chemist who is consulted by Gus (season 4)
  • Robert Forster as Ed Galbraith, a vacuum cleaner store owner who relocates people running from the law and gives them new identities. (season 5)[67]
  • Dean Norris as Hank Schrader, a DEA agent and Walter White's brother-in-law (season 5)[63]
  • Steven Michael Quezada as Steven "Gomey" Gomez, Hank's DEA partner and best friend (season 5)[63]
  • Nigel Gibbs as Tim Roberts, a detective with the Albuquerque Police Department (season 5)
  • Norbert Weisser as Peter Schuler, a Madrigal Electromotive executive and associate of Gus Fring (season 5)

Episodes[edit]

Series overview for Better Call Saul
SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
110February 8, 2015 (2015-02-08)April 6, 2015 (2015-04-06)
210February 15, 2016 (2016-02-15)April 18, 2016 (2016-04-18)
310April 10, 2017 (2017-04-10)June 19, 2017 (2017-06-19)
410August 6, 2018 (2018-08-06)October 8, 2018 (2018-10-08)
510February 23, 2020 (2020-02-23)April 20, 2020 (2020-04-20)

Season 1 (2015)[edit]

Tired of public defender work, Jimmy works to represent the Kettlemans, who are accused of embezzlement. Jimmy cares for his brother Chuck, who is housebound without electricity because he believes he has electromagnetic hypersensitivity. While pursuing an elder law career, Jimmy discovers clients being defrauded by the Sandpiper retirement home and begins a class action lawsuit with Chuck. When the case grows, Chuck suggests giving it to his law firm, Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, but secretly arranges with Howard, a partner at the firm, to cut Jimmy out. The case continues growing and HHM brings on Davis & Main. Unhappy at Howard's treatment of him, Kim recommends Jimmy to D&M.

Season 2 (2016)[edit]

Jimmy works at D&M but quits after being reprimanded for his client outreach methods. Kim is demoted because of Jimmy's actions. To reclaim her status, she secures Mesa Verde Bank as a client for HHM but Howard denies her credit. Kim quits at HHM, and she and Jimmy begin separate private practices in a shared office. Jimmy secretly causes Chuck to make an error that delays a new branch construction, so Mesa Verde drops HHM to hire Kim. Nacho hires Mike to remove Tuco from the Salamanca organization. Mike goads Tuco into fighting and Tuco is imprisoned. Hector is suspicious so Mike prepares to assassinate him but is interrupted.

Season 3 (2017)[edit]

Chuck discovers Jimmy's fraud and tricks him into confessing, leading to suspension of Jimmy's law license. Chuck's ouster at HHM leads to his suicide. Gus stops Mike from killing Hector. Mike attacks Hector's trucks and steals $250,000 from one. Mike asks for help laundering the money. Gus arranges for Mike's hire as a contracted security expert at Madrigal and payment of monthly consulting fees. Hector plans to take over Manuel's business so Nacho attempts to kill Hector by changing his angina medication for a placebo. Hector suffers a stroke and Gus' first aid saves him, though he remains comatose.

Season 4 (2018)[edit]

Jimmy regains his outgoing demeanor after Howard shoulders blame for Chuck's death. Jimmy manages a cell phone store but makes more reselling prepaid phones. His law license reinstatement request is denied over lack of remorse for Chuck. After faking mourning, he successfully appeals, but reveals he is going to practice as Saul Goodman. Gus learns Nacho attempted to kill Hector and blackmails him into undermining the Salamancas. Mike escorts engineers who evaluate the laundry's potential as a meth lab and Gus hires Werner to oversee construction. Hector recovers mentally and can move his right index finger. Lalo Salamanca arrives to run Hector's business.

Season 5 (2020)[edit]

Jimmy's new business as Saul Goodman draws him into the drug trade within the city of Albuquerque, and is conflicted when Howard, to make up for his past treatment of Jimmy, offers him a position at HHM. Kim herself balances her Mesa Verde and pro bono work with her own feelings for Jimmy, and finds herself toying with the same conman-style tactics Jimmy employs within her casework. Lalo's presence forces Gus to halt the superlab construction, and both Nacho and Mike become pawns in the ongoing feud between the Salamancas and Gus.

Talking Saul[edit]

Talking Saul is a live aftershow hosted by Chris Hardwick, which features guests discussing episodes of Better Call Saul. The show uses the same format as Talking Dead, Talking Bad, and other similar aftershows also hosted by Hardwick. AMC announced that Talking Saul would air after the second season Better Call Saul premiere on February 15, 2016, and again after the second-season finale on April 18, 2016.[68] It returned following the season 3 premiere and finale.[69]

Season 1 (2016)[edit]

These episodes discuss season two of Better Call Saul.

No.
overall
No. in
season
Episode discussedGuestsOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
11"Switch"Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Bob Odenkirk and Rhea SeehornFebruary 15, 2016 (2016-02-15)0.744[70]
22"Klick"Jonathan Banks, Vince Gilligan and Peter GouldApril 18, 2016 (2016-04-18)0.641[71]

Season 2 (2017)[edit]

These episodes discuss season three of Better Call Saul.

No.
overall
No. in
season
Episode discussedGuestsOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
31"Mabel"Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Jonathan Banks and Rhea SeehornApril 10, 2017 (2017-04-10)0.545[72]
42"Lantern"Peter Gould, Patrick Fabian and Michael Mando; Michael McKean via satelliteJune 19, 2017 (2017-06-19)0.589[73]

Broadcast[edit]

Better Call Saul airs on cable network AMC. The series premiere drew in 4.4 million and 4 million in the 18–49 and 25–54 demographics, respectively, and received an overall viewership of 6.9 million.[74] This was the record for the highest-rated scripted series premiere in basic cable history, until it was surpassed later the same year by another AMC series, Fear the Walking Dead.[75]

In December 2013, Netflix announced that the entire first season would be available for streaming in the U.S. after the airing of the first-season finale, and in Latin America and Europe each episode would be available a few days after the episode airs in the U.S.[76] However, the first season was not released on Netflix in the U.S. until February 1, 2016.[77][78] Internationally, episodes of the second season became available the day after they aired in the U.S.[79]

Netflix is the exclusive video-on-demand provider for the series and makes the content available in all its territories, except for Australia and New Zealand.[76] In Australia, Better Call Saul premiered on the streaming service Stan[80] on February 9, 2015, acting as the service's flagship program.[81] In New Zealand, the show is exclusive to the New Zealand-based subscription video-on-demand service, Lightbox.[82] The episodes were available for viewing within three days of broadcast in the U.S.[83]

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the series was acquired by Netflix on December 16, 2013,[84] and the first episode premiered on February 9, 2015, with the second episode released the following day. Every subsequent episode was released each week thereafter.[85] In India, the series is broadcast on Colors Infinity within 24 hours of the U.S. broadcast.[86]

Reception[edit]

Critical response for Better Call Saul
Season Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1 97% (69 reviews)[87] 78 (43 reviews)[88]
2 97% (31 reviews)[89] 85 (18 reviews)[90]
3 97% (39 reviews)[91] 87 (18 reviews)[92]
4 99% (36 reviews)[93] 87 (16 reviews)[94]
5 99% (40 reviews)[95] 92 (16 reviews)[96]

Critical response[edit]

Better Call Saul has received critical acclaim.

Better Call Saul is considered to be an outstanding example of how to successfully produce a prequel and spinoff work that defied expectations.[97] Past work by culture critic Stuart Henderson showed that prequels generally do not fare well by audiences, with the highest-rated prequel he evaluated by 2010 to be Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with a IMDb user rating of only 7.6 out of 10.[98] Prequels generally are seen a negative as they are covering the backstory of established characters and leave little to be unexpected.[98] When Better Call Saul was announced, there was similar concern about the project. Andy Greenwald of Grantland wrote in 2014 on its news that "I am dreading this show and I think it's an awful idea."[99] Gilligan was also concerned which way audiences would take Better Call Saul as a spinoff, either favorably as Frasier or as a disappointment as with AfterMASH, though felt his production team had done the best job they could for the show.[100][101]

However, after several seasons, the show's purposely slow pacing, a change made after the first season to hold off Jimmy's transformation into Saul, allowed the show to give more time to dwell on characterization rather than the rush to meet the plot of Breaking Bad.[98][102] Critics said the show gave a look into how various bad decisions and events outside Jimmy's control led to him becoming Saul, in contrast to how Breaking Bad slowly revealed the more nefarious character that Walter had been hiding within his personality.[103] Additionally, the addition of characters like Kim, Nacho, and Lalo which do not exist in the Breaking Bad story give the audience a reason to speculate on their eventual fates and thus invest themselves in the show.[98] This was particularly true of Kim given her close relationship to Jimmy throughout the series but who is completely absent within Breaking Bad;[104] Gilligan has called Kim's arc an "impending tragedy" in part due to her lack of presence in Jimmy's story outside Better Call Saul.[105]

Season 1[edit]

The first season of Better Call Saul received critical acclaim, particularly for its acting, writing, and directing with many critics calling it a worthy successor to Breaking Bad. On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has a rating of 97%, based on 68 reviews, with an average rating of 8.03/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Better Call Saul is a quirky, dark character study that manages to stand on its own without being overshadowed by the series that spawned it."[87] On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 78 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[88]

Season 2[edit]

The second season, much like the previous, received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season has a score of 97%, based on 31 reviews, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Better Call Saul continues to tighten its hold on viewers with a batch of episodes that inject a surge of dramatic energy while showcasing the charms of its talented lead."[89] On Metacritic, the second season has a score of 85 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[90]

Season 3[edit]

The third season, much like the previous two, received critical acclaim, particularly for the character development of Jimmy McGill. On Rotten Tomatoes, the third season has an approval rating of 97% based on 39 reviews, with an average rating of 8.78/10. The site's critical consensus is, "Better Call Saul shows no signs of slipping in season 3, as the introduction of more familiar faces causes the inevitable transformation of its lead to pick up exciting speed."[91] On Metacritic, the season has a score of 87 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[92]

Season 4[edit]

The fourth season also received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has a 99% approval rating with an average score of 8.93 out of 10 based on 36 reviews. The site's critical consensus states, "Well-crafted and compelling as ever, Better Call Saul deftly balances the show it was and the one it will inevitably become."[93] On Metacritic, the season has a score of 87 out of 100, based on 16 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[94]

Season 5[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has an approval rating of 99% based on 40 reviews, with an average rating of 8.89/10. The website's critical consensus is, "Grounded by Bob Odenkirk's endlessly nuanced, lived-in performance, Better Call Saul's fifth season is a darkly funny, vividly realized master class in tragedy."[95] On Metacritic, the season has a score of 92 out of 100 based on 16 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[96]

Ratings[edit]

Viewership and ratings per season of Better Call Saul
Season Timeslot (ET) Episodes First aired Last aired Avg. viewers
(millions)
Date Viewers
(millions)
Date Viewers
(millions)
1 Sunday 10:00 pm (premiere)
Monday 10:00 pm
10 February 8, 2015 6.88[106] April 6, 2015 2.53[107] 3.21[108]
2 Monday 10:00 pm 10 February 15, 2016 2.57[70] April 18, 2016 2.26[109] 2.16[110]
3 10 April 10, 2017 1.81[111] June 19, 2017 1.85[112] 1.64[113]
4 Monday 9:00 pm 10 August 6, 2018 1.77[114] October 8, 2018 1.53[115] 1.49[116]
5 Sunday 10:00 pm (premiere)
Monday 9:00 pm
10 February 23, 2020 1.60[117] April 20, 2020 1.59[118] 1.37[119]

Awards and accolades[edit]

Year Ceremony Category Recipients Result
2015 2015 American Film Institute Awards[120] Television Programs of the Year Better Call Saul Won
5th Critics' Choice Television Awards[121] Best Actor in a Drama Series Bob Odenkirk Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Jonathan Banks Won
31st TCA Awards[122] Outstanding New Program Better Call Saul Won
Individual Achievement in Drama Bob Odenkirk Nominated
67th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards[123] Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Kelley Dixon ("Five-O") Nominated
Kelley Dixon and Chris McCaleb ("Marco") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series Phillip W. Palmer, Larry Benjamin, Kevin Valentine ("Marco") Nominated
67th Primetime Emmy Awards[123] Outstanding Drama Series Better Call Saul Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Bob Odenkirk Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Jonathan Banks Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Gordon Smith ("Five-O") Nominated
2016 73rd Golden Globe Awards[124] Best Actor – Television Series Drama Bob Odenkirk Nominated
22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards[125] Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Bob Odenkirk Nominated
68th Writers Guild of America Awards[126] Drama Series Better Call Saul Nominated
New Series Better Call Saul Nominated
Episodic Drama Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould ("Uno") Won
20th Satellite Awards[127] Best Drama Series Better Call Saul Won
Best Actor in a Drama Series Bob Odenkirk Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or TV Film Jonathan Banks Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or TV Film Rhea Seehorn Won
32nd TCA Awards[128] Outstanding Achievement in Drama Better Call Saul Nominated
Individual Achievement in Drama Bob Odenkirk Nominated
68th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards[123] Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Kelley Dixon ("Rebecca") Nominated
Kelley Dixon and Chris McCaleb ("Nailed") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series Phillip W. Palmer, Larry Benjamin, Kevin Valentine ("Klick") Nominated
Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role For the episode "Fifi" Nominated
68th Primetime Emmy Awards[129] Outstanding Drama Series Better Call Saul Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Bob Odenkirk Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Jonathan Banks Nominated
7th Critics' Choice Television Awards[130] Best Drama Series Better Call Saul Nominated
Best Actor in a Drama Series Bob Odenkirk Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Michael McKean Nominated
2016 American Film Institute Awards[131] Television Programs of the Year Better Call Saul Won
2017 74th Golden Globe Awards[132] Best Actor – Television Series Drama Bob Odenkirk Nominated
21st Satellite Awards[133][134] Best Drama Series Better Call Saul Nominated
Best Actor in a Drama Series Bob Odenkirk Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or TV Film Jonathan Banks Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or TV Film Rhea Seehorn Won
53rd Cinema Audio Society Awards[135] Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series – One Hour Phillip W. Palmer, Larry B. Benjamin, Kevin Valentine, Matt Hovland and David Michael Torres ("Klick") Nominated
69th Writers Guild of America Awards[136] Drama Series Better Call Saul Nominated
Episodic Drama Gordon Smith ("Gloves-Off") Nominated
Heather Marion and Vince Gilligan ("Klick") Nominated
Thomas Schnauz ("Switch") Nominated
Location Managers Guild Awards[137] Outstanding Locations in a Contemporary TV Series Christian Diaz de Bedoya Nominated
33rd TCA Awards[138] Outstanding Achievement in Drama Better Call Saul Nominated
69th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards[139] Outstanding Music Supervision Thomas Golubić ("Sunk Costs") Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Skip Macdonald ("Chicanery") Nominated
Kelley Dixon and Skip Macdonald ("Witness") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) Phillip W. Palmer, Larry Benjamin, Kevin Valentine ("Witness") Nominated
69th Primetime Emmy Awards[140][141] Outstanding Drama Series Better Call Saul Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Bob Odenkirk Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Jonathan Banks Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Vince Gilligan ("Witness") Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Gordon Smith ("Chicanery") Nominated
2018 75th Golden Globe Awards[142] Best Actor – Television Series Drama Bob Odenkirk Nominated
24th Screen Actors Guild Awards[143] Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Bob Odenkirk Nominated
70th Writers Guild of America Awards[144] Drama Series Better Call Saul Nominated
Episodic Drama Gordon Smith ("Chicanery") Won
Heather Marion ("Slip") Nominated
22nd Satellite Awards[145] Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or TV Film Michael McKean Won
Peabody Award[146] Entertainment, children's and youth honoree Better Call Saul Won
54th Cinema Audio Society Awards[147] Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series – One Hour Phillip W. Palmer, Larry B. Benjamin, Kevin Valentine, Matt Hovland and David Michael Torres ("Lantern") Nominated
44th Saturn Awards[148] Best Action-Thriller Television Series Better Call Saul Won
Best Supporting Actor on Television Michael McKean Won
Best Supporting Actress on Television Rhea Seehorn Won
2018 American Film Institute Awards[149] Television Programs of the Year Better Call Saul Won
2019 71st Writers Guild of America Awards[150] Drama Series Better Call Saul Nominated
23rd Satellite Awards[151] Best Actor in a Drama / Genre Series Bob Odenkirk Nominated
25th Screen Actors Guild Awards[152] Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Bob Odenkirk Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Jonathan Banks, Rainer Bock, Ray Campbell, Giancarlo Esposito, Michael Mando, Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn Nominated
35th TCA Awards[153] Outstanding Achievement in Drama Better Call Saul Won
71st Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards[154] Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Michael McKean Nominated
Outstanding Music Supervision Thomas Golubić ("Something Stupid") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One-Hour) Kurt Nicholas Forshager, Kathryn Madsen, Mark Cookson, Matt Temple, Jane Boegel-Koch, Jason Newman, Jeff Cranford and Gregg Barbanell ("Talk") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) Larry Benjamin, Kevin Valentine and Phillip W. Palmer ("Talk") Nominated
71st Primetime Emmy Awards[155] Outstanding Drama Series Better Call Saul Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Bob Odenkirk Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Jonathan Banks Nominated
Giancarlo Esposito Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Thomas Schnauz & Peter Gould ("Winner") Nominated
45th Saturn Awards[156] Best Action-Thriller Television Series Better Call Saul Won
Best Supporting Actor on a Television Series Jonathan Banks Nominated
Best Supporting Actress on a Television Series Rhea Seehorn Nominated
Best Guest-Starring Performance on a Television Series Rainer Bock Nominated
2019 Gold Derby Awards[157] Best Drama Series Better Call Saul Nominated
Best Drama Actor Bob Odenkirk Nominated
Best Drama Supporting Actor Jonathan Banks Nominated
Best Drama Supporting Actress Rhea Seehorn Nominated
Best Drama Guest Actor Michael McKean Nominated

Home media[edit]

The first season was released on Blu-ray and DVD in region 1 on November 10, 2015; bonus features include audio commentaries for every episode, uncensored episodes, deleted scenes, gag reel, and several behind-the-scenes featurettes. A limited edition Blu-ray set was also released with 3D packaging and a postcard vinyl of the Better Call Saul theme song by Junior Brown.[158] The second season was released on Blu-ray and DVD in region 1 on November 15, 2016; bonus features include audio commentaries for every episode and several behind-the-scenes featurettes.[159] The third season was released on Blu-ray and DVD in region 1 on January 16, 2018; bonus features include audio commentaries for every episode and several behind-the-scenes featurettes.[160] The fourth season was released on Blu-ray and DVD in region 1 on May 7, 2019; bonus features include audio commentary for every episode and several behind-the-scenes featurettes.[161]

Other media[edit]

Web series[edit]

Since season three, AMC has released three separate ten-episode short series that feature a mix of live action and animated segments. Season three featured Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training with Esposito portraying Gus, season four featured Madrigal Electromotive Security Training with Banks as Mike, and season five featured Ethics Training with Seehorn as Kim and side-voiceovers from Odenkirk as Jimmy. These were released over the course of each season on YouTube and through AMC's social media. Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series,[162] and while Madrigal Electromotive Security Training had been nominated for the same the following year, the Academy had the pull the nomination after discovering the show was too short (less than two minutes), though stated the pull was "in no way a diminishment of the quality of Better Call Saul Employee Training or Mr. Banks' performance in it".[163]

Comics[edit]

AMC has released two digital comic books for Better Call Saul. The first, titled Better Call Saul: Client Development, released in February 2015, in advance of the series premiere, details the history of Saul and Mike, acting as a spin-off of the Breaking Bad episode that introduced Saul.[164] In February 2016, in advance of the second-season premiere, AMC released Better Call Saul: Saul Goodman and the Justice Consortium in the Clutches of the Judgernaut![165]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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