This season flew by and gadzooks was it good. Rock solid storytelling made all the more impressive considering how many characters are involved.
The main hook for the show is its ties to Breaking Bad and they put in some juicy bits for fans this year. We’ve seen Mike before but the major piece this year is Gustavo Fring. Along with Fring comes Hector Salamanca. Fascinating stuff. They write the coolest scenarios for Mike and that leads to him meeting Fring, who’s butting heads with Salamanca. What we watch unfold is a direct line to Breaking Bad.
You can’t have Saul without Jimmy of course. The flawed man I love to hate and constantly find myself rooting for no matter what. His brother Chuck, I hope eternally that I get to see him get what his arrogant ass deserves.
With that said…Jimmy goes to really dark places this season. Much of Jimmy’s arc this year is his feud with his brother and it comes to a head. Last year got pretty nuts but I was reeling at the last scene of this season. The fighting goes (fittingly) to the court room and I pretty much steer clear of any courtroom drama shows, they just aren’t my thing. What they did here blew me away it was so riveting and the fallout is nuts. Of course, I’m completely invested in these characters so that makes a world of a difference.
In the middle of all of this (or woven in I should say) is Kim. The only anchor Jimmy really has. She’s a kindred spirit to Jimmy, the share similar experiences in being suppressed and shoved aside despite being so damn good at their profession.
Their ultimate success so far is striking out together in their own practice. Kim wisely insulated herself last year knowing what Jimmy is like. When the verdict comes down from the trial and Jimmy is forced out, it’s a very telling moment for his personality. He’s going to struggle to pay for his part of the office. Kim sees it as just a building, they can move on. It’s much more to Jimmy. It’s a physical landmark to his achievements from under Chuck’s thumb. He’s completely distraught over the idea of losing it. So he gets creative to keep it.
And creative Jimmy is dangerous. We know Jimmy is good (goodish?) at heart but time and time again we see how myopic his view of the world is. That total jerk of a human being is always right underneath the surface. Total disregard with what others could go through as long it benefits him. When he gets his way it’s all about him, just disregard or ignore anything else because I’m making moves. Jimmy has a way of rationalizing things (I’m doing it for us!).
The steam rolling he and Kim give Chuck, which in the end is fascinating to see her take Jimmy’s methodology over her own. She’s run simple scams on some tools for fun with Jimmy, but this was something else. Kim was really onboard to stop Chuck. Then the Irene play Jimmy did. That was straight up grimy and it came as a real relief for me to see him do the right thing in the end.
The very end though? Oof. Chuck’s arc this season is a masterclass in storytelling.
Better Call Saul has a slow and deliberate way to its story arcs. It moves at its own pace by taking the time to set things up. The payoff often takes awhile to come around, not a lot of instant gratification. Each piece moves on its own. For example, Mike’s story arc finishes before all others, there’s a decent amount of show to go when we leave him. But he’s not completely gone as his involvement is passed off to Nacho. That whole web is set up with Fringe early on too. The first half of the season was Mike doing his awesome covert ops stuff and then that morphs into Nacho’s ultra dangerous plot.
Saul is edited slow, it’s completely against the MTV grain of hyper cutting and breakneck pacing. It’s one of my favorite aspects of the show and I think that turns off a lot of people. I don’t think nearly enough people know how great Saul is. I’m so impressed with this season and I can’t wait to see what happens next. With how things are going, it makes me wonder how much is left to tell. Maybe two seasons until we run up against the BB timeline?
I tip my hat to everyone involved in the production: cast, crew, et al.