The challenge that Better Call Saul came up against when it premiered was how it could create drama even though it’s destination has already been predetermined. We know that Jimmy McGill ultimately becomes Saul Goodman, who develops a reputation as the top “criminal” lawyer in all of Albuquerque and like all criminals, sees his reign come to an end.
Prequels don’t often have the luxury of surprising the audience, so no one is holding their breath hoping that Jimmy has a chance as a legitimate attorney or that he’ll make amends with his brother, Chuck. The question is if the show can keep people invested even if they know where things are going. Better Call Saul is in its third season now, so someone out there is paying attention to what’s happening. Personally, a lot of my interest was riding on whether or not Jimmy would get lucky with Kim. Score one for the guy who looks like Kevin Costner.
And while the pre-Breaking Bad escapes of Slippin’ Jimmy hint at greatness and occasionally even delivers it, there’s just not enough substance to make me forget that I’m watching a prequel. When I’m constantly reminded of what awaits these characters in the future, I find myself wishing that I was watching Breaking Bad instead.
Addictions are weird things. You work hard to rid of them and you are doing great for a period of time. And then something happens and it triggers your brain to fall back into old habits.
The trigger could be all kinds of things. Seeing an old friend, depression, a fight with a loved one, some guy cutting you off in traffic or hell, the smell of a freshly baked cookie.
The trigger doesn’t need to make sense. It’s like your brain is just finding any sort of excuse to get you back to the high of your addiction.
Jimmy isn’t addicted to drinking, smoking or drugs. He gets his high on conning people. And he is damn good at it.
Building a career is difficult. The work itself is probably pretty easy but building your name up to be trusted is hard.
Sure you can spend countless hours studying, working or volunteering. You can have the best skills, knowledge and work ethic. Generally that means absolutely nothing in the real world.
Someone out there has to give you a chance. They have to put their trust in you when you probably don’t deserve it. Call it luck or call it hard work paying off, but you can’t get anywhere without someone taking a chance on you.
For Mike, he forced someone to take a chance on him. For Jimmy, he pushed as far as he could before ultimately falling short. Again.
They say it is about who you know not what you know. Networking is the driving force behind career growth. It is a lot like Survivor in fact. If people don’t like you then you don’t stand a chance.
Sometimes who you know is a curse. If who you know is so great at what they do then you are forced to live in their shadow. Being close to someone who is a big success can hinder your ability to think and act independently. If you see your brother become a successful lawyer then why wouldn’t you try to become a successful lawyer?
Jimmy McGill loves his brother and he has always fought for his respect. And because of this, Chuck is the last thing that is holding Jimmy back from becoming Saul.
“I do all the talking. That’s the only way this works.” -Jimmy McGill
Last week I declared the episode “Five-O” as the reason Better Call Saul exists. Jonathan Banks was so captivating as Mike Ehrmantraut that I declared him the true star of the series. This week in the episode titled “Bingo”, Bob Odenkirk reminded me why the show is called Better Call Saul.
Spoilers after the jump.
When Better Call Saul first dropped I was impressed but also skeptical. I was impressed with the depth that the writers had put into Jimmy McGill AKA Saul Goodman. I felt like the show had a real star that was both entertaining and intense. Kind of like what they had in Walter White except more charismatic.
My skepticism arose from doubting they could team Jimmy up with someone equally as entertaining as himself. My logic was that you don’t have Breaking Bad without Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Both Walt and Jesse brought the darkness and intensity that fueled the series to success. But Jesse also brought some lightness through his innocence and his occasional humor. My thought was if Jimmy was bringing the lightness, humor and half the intensity, who will bring the darkness? Well it looks like episode six of the young series has finally answered the question.
The first episodes of Better Call Saul worked hard to distinguish itself from the shadow of Breaking Bad. The latest episode, “Alpine Shepherd Boy”, on the other hand, felt like it could have easily fit into Walter White’s story.
Although not a ground breaking episode, the cold opening, the slow pacing and the small-detailed character development of the episode really showcased what Vince Gilligan does best.