BETTER CALL SAUL SEASON 3

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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TRUE DETECTIVE 2: ‘MAYBE TOMORROW’ REVIEW

TRUE DETECTIVE SEASON 2: EPISODE 3 REVIEW – The ‘plot’ deepens, I think, as someone does something somewhere. Meanwhile somewhere else some other people doing other things.

F*cking sh*t! Colin Farrell is not dead. The survival of Colin Farrell felt like a kick in the chest. So we’re not going with the bold move. He didn’t even wake up in hospital. Though it was funny that he pissed himself. The danger element that would have added greatly to the show if Velcro had been offed is now removed and then some. Now we know the creepy murderer isn’t going to hurt people who need to be around for contractual reasons.

In other news, Nic Pizzolatto continues to own dick dialogue with the impeccable ‘suck your own dick’ delivered to Vince Vaughn in something that looked like a dark out take from his hit comedy Delivery Man. Vince’s Frank is still looking hassled and petulant by turns. But at least he gets to punch someone and gets the best line of the show so far: ‘Don’t take off your rings, it won’t be a problem for me.’

Velcro and Rachel McAdams stalk around a studio back lot where something like Mad Max is being made. The on set photographer sneers that they’re making a load of shit. To which I wanted to scream, Mad Max: Fury Road was a million times better than this bull crap. This show just isn’t good enough to sneer at anything else. The desultory plotting continued as people wandered around a bit more. Taylor Kitsch’s repressed gay is right out of one of James Ellroy’s LA Quartet, but those were set in the fifties, when it made sense. This sense of anachronism plagues the whole show. Despite a hoarding of American Sniper in the background, this feels like a show that should have been set in the eighties. When Kitsch goes into a nightclub and looks traumatized at the depravity he finds – girls and boys dance unchaperoned – we’re supposed to feel in touch with an underbelly, as if internet porn doesn’t exist. There is no underbelly. It’s all belly now.

The final foot chase was a bit of much needed dynamism and looked good, but like the rest of the episode led nowhere. All we know of the prime suspect is he can’t kill people even when he shoots them twice in the chest with a shotgun, and he failed ninja camouflage school, with his high visibility mask.