The "Breaking Bad" spinoff "Better Call Saul" has a two-night premiere this week, starting Sunday, February 8 right after the midseason premiere of "The Walking Dead" Season 5. It may sneak up on some viewers who were still expecting to see "Talking Dead" at that 10 p.m. ET time, and other folks may tune in just because AMC's teasers have been funny and intriguing -- even if they aren't familiar with "Breaking Bad," the lead character of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) or anything else in this world. No worries. The Powers That Be have emphasized that you don't need to be a "Breaking Bad" fan to appreciate this show, and even hardcore BB fans will be surprised by the story. It's not rocket science (or a tricky meth recipe) to catch up on the basics, and newbies should be ready to go once they know these five things.
1. The show is a prequel set six years before "Breaking Bad"
Saul first appears as the sketchy but hilarious lawyer of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in Season 2, Episode 8 of "Breaking Bad." His first big episode was actually titled "Better Call Saul." This spinoff show is set in 2002, which is six years before that point, so we see how he became that guy. However, we're also meant to see some flashes from the "present" time, after the explosive BB finale sent Saul fleeing from New Mexico to Nebraska for the protection of a new life. So if you haven't seen BB, but would still like to someday, just know that some scenes might function as future spoilers (but not in a way that should dissuade you from watching the entire amazing series).
2. Saul isn't even Saul's real name
Back in 2002, Saul wasn't even Saul. He was just a struggling small-time lawyer still going by his real name, Jimmy McGill. He later goes by Saul Goodman because it sounds Jewish and it's a play on "s'all good, man" to attract clients. As he explained to Walter White, "The Jew thing I just do for the homeboys. They all want a pipe-hitting member of the tribe, so to speak..." Yeah, he's that kind of guy. Sleaze-fest all the way. But he's good at what he does.
3. He's a criminal lawyer
Jesse Pinkman, Walter White's former chemistry student and meth-making partner in "Breaking Bad," was the one who initially recommended that they go to Saul (better call Saul!) to be their lawyer, because, as Jesse put it, when the going gets tough, you don't need a criminal lawyer, you need a CRIMINAL lawyer. Savvy? Saul is knee-deep in the criminal underworld and works to connect various players in that realm.
4. He's had multiple wives
Saul is a character on every front, and he revealed that he's had many wives -- he caught one in flagrante delicto with his own stepfather -- and he also had a relationship with his secretary. Hopefully we'll see some of his personal life on "Saul," since it seems like too much of a delicious mess to ignore.
5. Mike will be a series regular
Fans aren't expecting "Better Call Saul" to feature too many "Breaking Bad" faces on a regular bases, but one you'll get to know (and probably love) is Michael Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). On "Breaking Bad," Mike was Saul's private investigator and "fixer." He's a former cop and a total badass. So it's interesting that a "Better Call Saul" sneak peek shows an early interaction between Mike and Jimmy/Saul, from before they started working together, and Mike is ... working as a parking attendant? Why is a guy like Mike working in a parking garage? We'll find out.
There are still a lot of things BB fans and non-fans will discover together, like the relationship between Jimmy/Saul and his older brother Chuck McGill, a new main character played by Michael McKean. Watch this AMC video for more on their dynamic and for more details on the new (and not-so-new) characters of "Better Call Saul":
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