REVIEW – BETTER CALL SAUL – With Season 3 of Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad spin-off over, we ask what we learned and where are we going.

So what did we learn in the third season of Better Call Saul? Okay, SPOILERS, but not really. We discovered Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is still Jimmy McGill and still not Saul Goodman. And I’m not sure he ever really will be Saul Goodman. Having got through three seasons, I’m also wondering if this is even the same character. The outright rogue of Breaking Bad keeps desperately trying to second guess the audience’s prejudices so that he’ll never do anything too bad. He does something bad and then repents. But the cards are so stacked against him that we’re bound to sympathize.

All those cards for the whole season seemed to be passing through the hands of his brother Chuck (Michael McKean).  Chuck and his space blanket became a central story strand of the whole season and there’s no delicate way of putting this, it was a pain in the balls. I love Michael McKean as an actor. And his performance here was wonderful but his trajectory was just so grindingly predictable. When a tragic decline and demise of a major character is your big finale of the season, you really shouldn’t have the audience shriek ‘Finally!’ but that’s what I did.

Rhea Seehorn as Kim is always fun. She’s smart but she was given so little to do except have the other office. Her legalling could be snappy, but when did this become legal eagles? Especially when we get on to oil wells and property rights. She says herself ‘I made a local bank into a regional bank’. Not exactly a thrilling ride.

And then there’s Mike (Jonathan Banks) who is visibly aging before our eyes. Mike was never a spring chicken exactly but given this is a prequel, I hope Gustav Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) sends him to a health farm or something. Waiting for someone to get a stroke is not the tensest denouement and this gangster story was almost as uninteresting as the shenanigans in a photocopying shop.

This sounds very negative. I don’t hate it at all. And everyone is so talented that this is obviously quality all the way through. But the story – which was the strongest element of Breaking Bad – has given way to simply waiting for shit to go down. And the wait is going on forever.

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HOLLYWOOD Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan confirmed this morning that he is currently writing a spin-off to the popular AMC show based on the character of deceased Crystal Meth kingpin Gustavo Fring.

“I wanted to do something different” said an animated Gilligan

But every time I sat down to write I kept thinking about Gustavo and what a great character he was. Originally I thought about going down the science fiction road. His disembodied head would be reanimated by a mad scientist who wants to take over the Meth business Walt leaves behind when he is taken up by the Aliens in the mother ship at the end of Breaking Bad. The scientists aim was for Fring’s head to act in an advisory capacity but of course, Gus being Gus, he eventually ends up running the show. I liked the idea but the more I wrote the more I realised I was going to need a 200 million dollar budget to make it work and I wanted to work on a smaller scale. It was then I decided to do a prequel and base the show on the adventures of a young Gustavo and how he first got into the chicken and drugs business.

Asked whether Giancarlo Esposito would be reprising his role Gilligan smiled.

“There’s no Gustavo Fring without Giancarlo”said Gilligan. 

It’s his role and it wouldn’t be the same without him but that doesn’t mean he is the only actor we have in mind. Giancarlo could get away with playing the character in his 30’s and beyond but for the flashback scenes of him as a much younger man we need another guy and we think we’ve found the perfect candidate. Zac Efron. Now I know some will consider that to be a controversial choice but let me put it this way. Giancarlo is an African American born in Denmark and Gus is from Chile so there is no reason why a white guy from California can’t also play him. Zac is very talented he’s spent the last month working in a KFC to prepare for the role and has already been promoted to the fries section. 

Episode one of ‘Fring’ is due to air on AMC in 2015