Not today. That’s the first thing I need to stress. I am not saying today is the day for this, or that tomorrow is, or even a day two or three years in the future. I’m saying someday, at a hypothetical point in the future, which could be tomorrow, or a day two or three years in the future. Or it could be today, actually. I’m flexible about it all, although I understand why others might be a little touchy. The important thing is that we all recognize there could eventually be a point where we need to ask ourselves — really, really ask ourselves — if Better Call Saul has surpassed Breaking Bad.
Again, it’s too soon right now, probably. Better Call Saul is only halfway through its third season and still has plenty of road to traverse. A lot could go wrong between this moment and whenever the series collides with the events from Breaking Bad. Chuck and Kim could fall in love and get married and move to Tahiti. I would hate that, even if it would explain their absence from the original series. (Kind of.) But Better Call Saul has been so good so far. So very good. Better than it had any right to be, probably, considering it’s giving us just the origin story of supporting characters from a beloved show with a passionate fan base. Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould are talented guys.
The case against Better Call Saul over Breaking Bad is pretty straightforward, and looks something like this: Breaking Bad was one of the best television shows of all time. It starred Bryan Cranston, who, all due respect to Bob Odenkirk (and please do stop here and think about the fact that one of the guys from Mr. Show is now anchoring one of TV’s best dramas), came into the series with a broader range of acting experience and turned in an iconic performance. The stakes were often higher, with lives hanging in the balance instead of careers, and everything was planned out without a known ending in sight. Unlike Better Call Saul, where we know people like Jimmy and Mike and Gus will survive because we’ve seen them years later in the franchise’s chronology, Breaking Bad had the tension you can only get from knowing a character could die at almost any moment. It was wholly original and brilliant. As much fun as the little nods to the future are on Better Call Saul (favorite characters popping up, trips to locations that will become important later), you could argue it’s as much of a crutch as anything else. If your favorite part of one show is all the things from another show, then, I mean, what does that say?