Almost two years after the “Better Call Saul” season five finale aired on April 20, 2020, the season six premiere finally debuted on April 18, 2022 on AMC, marking the beginning of the final season of the “Breaking Bad” prequel. The premiere featured the first two episodes of season six, totaling almost two-and-a-half hours of exhilarating television. This article will contain heavy spoilers for the episode and the show as a whole, so continue at your own risk.
The biggest surprise of the “Better Call Saul” season six premiere might be how it starts, as the episode breaks from the tradition of the show. Historically, each season’s first episode begins with a teaser of Gene Takovic, or the identity that Saul Goodman takes on after disappearing at the end of “Breaking Bad.” These teasers are all in black and white and detail the boring, yet fearful, life that Goodman lives. However, season six does not begin with a colorless Takovic teaser — rather, it depicts Goodman’s house being cleaned out in full color, presumably after the events of “Better Call Saul” and “Breaking Bad,” but before the Takovic timeline.
This unique teaser serves two important functions for the show. First, the grandness of Goodman’s house yet the tragedy of it being emptied reminds the audience both of how far Goodman has to go up in the world and then how deep he will fall by the end of both shows. Secondly, the fact that the teaser breaks from tradition signals to the audience that this season of “Better Call Saul” will not be like the other ones, bending and pushing the limits of the “Breaking Bad” universe in new directions. Only time will tell whether or not that is a good thing.
Following the teaser, the next 45 minutes of the premiere flash by without anything really happening. The events pick up right where season five left off, with Goodman and his wife Kim Wexler plotting to besmirch rival lawyer Howard Hamlin’s name and drug dealer Nacho Varga on the run after a failed assassination attempt of cartel associate Lalo Salamanca. The two episodes generally follow these two plotlines, cutting back and forth between them.
On the Goodman and Wexler side of things, there are many tense moments of drama that rival any prior sequences from “Better Call Saul.” The first of which is when Goodman plants baby powder, intentionally designed to look like cocaine, in Hamlin’s locker. Despite facing multiple setbacks, Goodman just barely pulls it off with a few clever tricks. Later in the episode, Goodman manages to trick Craig and Betsy Kettleman into spreading a rumor that Hamlin is a drug addict, masterfully building upon his previous setup without it being traceable back to him.
As always in the “Breaking Bad” universe, actions have consequences and the consequence for Goodman tricking the Kettlemans is that they are upset and threaten to expose his scheme. This is where Wexler comes in and tops their blackmail by threatening to reveal the Kettlemans’ fraudulent business practices to the police. The creators of the show make an interesting choice by having Wexler sitting down while threatening the Kettlemans, whereas they are standing up. This deliberate framing makes Wexler seem more powerful as she is able to control the room even while sitting down.
On the other side of things, Varga is stuck in Mexico after a botched murder attempt on Salamanca. At the beginning of the episode, he is entirely dependent on his boss Gustavo Fring to bring him back. However, Varga slowly realizes that Fring intends to have him killed and so he must get back to the United States on his own. This leads to an epic confrontation between Varga and Salamanca’s cousins at the end of the episode, featuring a tense shootout and brief car chase.
The Varga arc of the premiere ends ambiguously, as we do not see if he escapes the clutches of the cousins or if he is captured by them. We do hear over the phone that he has escaped in a phone call between a cartel associate and Fring, but it is possible that this is a lie to keep Fring from getting nervous. The one rule for watching anything in the “Breaking Bad” universe is that if you do not see it with your own eyes, then it probably did not happen. Hopefully, future episodes will reveal the truth around what happened to Varga.
The “Better Call Saul” season six premiere was a fabulous start to the season, weaving together two plotlines without losing any of the tension or excitement on either side. The premiere manages the difficult task of having lots of awesome moments in addition to setting up future episodes. The two-and-a-half-hourlong premiere feels almost like a film, yet somehow better because we know there is so much more to come.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars