Better Call Saul Season 4 Premiere Episode 401 “Smoke” Review

Courtesey of AMC

Courtesey of AMC


By Bryan;  Host of It’s Saul Good, Man!, the better Better Call Saul podcast.

Every since it was announced that Breaking Bad would receive a prequel focusing on series charlatan Saul Goodman, fans of the shows have been clamoring for the pivotal moment where affable loser and charming con man Jimmy McGill would don an obnoxious business suit and proclaim “Behold,  I am Saul Goodman now!”.

Three seasons have come and gone.   Without failure, before every season premiere, fans on the internet make the predictions that “the change” is finally going to happen.  Finally we are going to witness the Breaking Bad years through the eyes of Saul Goodman!

As of yet, this has not happened and season 4 is better for it.

As is tradition, the season 4 debut of Better Call Saul gives us another peek into the  life of Gene, the post Saul Goodman alter ego of our hero Jimmy McGill. We pick up where we left off - with our humble Cinnabon manager “Gene”  motionless on the floor.

The writers  generously allow us to spend a bit more time with Gene giving us a great taste of the paranoia and tribulations of a post Breaking Bad Saul Goodman.  Of course, the obstacles of a man hiding in plain sight while simultaneously running from the law can arise from nowhere. This opening segment enthralling and engaging.  Fans will no doubt be excited that we learn a few more details about Gene’s life.

We then catch up with power couple Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler who are oblivious to Chuck’s death from the Season 3 finale.   As fate would have it, Howard Hamlin is the man to deliver the news which creates a dynamic that is the highlight of the episode.  Seeing each character’s reaction to Chuck McGill’s death can stir emotions that range from unsettling to surprising.

As last season ended,  Nacho attempted to take out Hector Salamanca which did not go quite as planned.  In true Better Call Saul fashion, we find this only complicates Nacho’s life on several fronts.  It appears that for all his preparation, Nacho wasn’t quite as stealthy as he had wished.

Lastly we follow Mike Ehrmantraut, the gruff, unassuming senior bad ass.  True to form, we are treated to a wonderful scene where we discover what Mike is really up to, but only at the very end.  Without spoiling anything, I will say that my reaction to the scene’s payoff was a genuine chuckle. Not because it was particularly humorous or silly but rather because it was so well played.

Better Call Saul has taken prequels to a whole new levels artistically while often  building surprisingly logical foundations for events we've already witnessed the conclusion too.  The season 4 premiere is nothing short of victorious. Better Call Saul Episode 401 “Smoke” balances the predicaments of previous seasons while somehow creating new avenues to explore these characters on a path to a conclusion we already know.  

Better Call Saul is often criticized by fans for moving too slowly. We as fans are so eager to see “Saul Goodman” in full effect that we obsess over previews, press releases and official photos for any hint that the next episode is going finally going to be the one where Jesse Pinkman and Walter White drag our hero out into the desert.  This is foolish.

Breaking Bad can wait.

Better Call Saul Season 4 Starts  Monday, August 6 at 9/8c on AMC.