BETTER CALL SAUL: REVIEW
BETTER CALL SAUL: REVIEW – AMC’s Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul just got better and better the more it relaxed and forget about Breaking Bad.
I must admit at first I was nervous. There were the visual echoes from Breaking Bad – the close ups of making Cinnabuns echoing cooking meth. There as the early cameo from a Breaking Bad baddie. And then there were even the plot similarities – Jimmy McGill being given the opportunity for financial freedom by the big law firm but sticking by his own amoral guns and pride. But as the season went on my nervousness relaxed and the show began to forge its own identity and its own particular delight.
One thing I noticed is that each episode was essentially three scenes. There were scenes around those scenes of course, but there were usually three moments, one of which was extended. The rhythm was different. There was a slow burn that worked well – a narrower more intense experience as if Breaking Bad had been the panorama and Better Call Saul was the sketchbook.
Then there was the shift of focus. Although called Better Call Saul, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) – the proto Saul Goodman – often gave room to other characters, Rhea Seehorn as Jimmy’s ally/rival, his agoraphobic brother Chuck (a fantastic Michael McKean) and grump-bags Mike (Jonathan Banks) who served up the stand out moment of the whole series. Of course, Odenkirk was magnificent even when called upon to play his younger self in a series of increasingly unconvincing hair pieces, but sometimes with the depth he gave to the character came a paradox. I always thought that Saul – in Breaking Bad – hinted at depth that he resolutely refused to display. Better Call Saul resolutely gave you a sense of how deep Jimmy was, and left you wishing for the more flippant delights of Goodman. By the end of Season One, it has become apparent that the show is to be another character arc of a man behaving badly with his own specific motivations. Now these motivations have been laid out baldly, the arc predestined by the previous show, one hopes that Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould can keep us interested in what we know is going to happen anyway. On the current evidence, I’d say it’s a safe bet.
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