Season 5 continues to do at least two things brilliantly:
1/. BCS depicts several characters who all appear to have an inner life, fears, guilt, desires, things that really annoy them and which make them do what they do. And the characters change over time, misunderstand one another, and resent one another. As BCS continues, the illusion that you are witnessing the lives of people you know becomes even stronger. The very opposite of a melodrama, where the 'characters' behave predictably to type.
2/. It's a prequel to 'Breaking Bad', considered one of the best mainstream TV series ever made; at least up there with 'The Wire' and 'The Sopranos'. What Peter Gould has managed to do is absolutely explain the backstory to tragedies we already know will happen in a thrilling and suspenseful way.
Hey, it isn't perfect all the time (how does Lalo know where Gus's dead drops are so as to tell Krazy8?), but I continue to give it 10s because unlike so many shows (and movies) in this, the Age Of Streaming, BCS doesn't ever insult my intelligence.
There will have been 63 episodes at the end of season 6. One day I'll binge them and the 62 Breaking Bads AND El Camino in sequence.
Just watched S04e01. Mike Ehrmentraut as the Health and Safety Officer from Hell is utterly hilarious, counterpoint to the morbidity and solemnity going on elsewhere with Chuck's suicide. And who doesn't want one of those buggies?
BCS is doing something that NOBODY else in TV is doing. Inventing real characters in a horrible - but plausible - situation, and being completely faithful to their natures, wherever it leads. That's why you might watch the credits and recognise all the actors as their names come up, instead of thinking they sound like US accountancy firms. This is the complete opposite of melodrama, which is what 96% of the other stuff does. Buy, beg, steal or borrow Better Call Saul because your grandchildren will want to know why you missed it, and will want your copy.
Jimmy McGill tries to do the right thing but it always goes wrong.
Heard of Emile Zola and Honoré de Balzac? 19th century French novelists who each wrote a series of novels that used the same characters from one novel to the next; in one they would be lead character, in another a support. Am I comparing BCS and Breaking Bad to classic French novels? Well yes; even the delivery format of modern 'cable' series is similar to the monthly publications of novels in the 1800s. Vince Gilligan and his team are certainly the front runners by far in the modern quality pop culture stakes. And in both BB and BCS, as with those writers, we have an uncompromising background of modern urban life.
It helps to have watched 'Breaking Bad' - in that series, the suspense was perfect; no-one knew what would happen, and no character apart from Walter White seemed indispensable - Jesse was to have been written out in series 1, after all. In 'Better Call Saul', you again have the teaser at the beginning, where Saul is flipping burgers in a shopping mall eaterie in Nebraska, paranoid about being recognised. If you've seen BB, you might suspect that this is only a partial teaser, Vince Gilligan setting you a trap. If you haven't, BCS looks like a flashback of 'how Jimmy McGill got to middle-aged mall misery', which probably doesn't provide the dramatic suspense that Walter White's cancer diagnosis did. But then, Breaking Bad started with a crazy Winniebago chase as well. Better Call Saul is more in the 'Chinatown' groove than Breaking Bad's surreality - so far.
That qualification aside, BCS is written, produced and performed to the same excellent standard of Breaking Bad, and Bob Odenkirk has no complaints from me on the acting chops. His is a sad, solitary character, his only foils being his sick brother Chuck, and Jonathan Banks as the parking attendant from Middle Earth, so you don't get the crackling dynamic that Walter and Jesse had.
But it's early days, I'm on Ep03 and if there's one thing you can count on, it's that Vince Gilligan will play with and exceed your expectations. It's not whether it's 'as good' or 'better' than BB. It's just as good. It's just that the lead character is less sympathetic, and doesn't have as far to go. Or does he?
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And so, a year or so later, we're into season II. I feel sorry for those who have not learned to trust Vince G. and Peter G.'s storytelling, and are therefore bored by the mental work involved in enjoying BCS.
Don't you see, people? Slippin' Jimmy's 'proper' lawyer brother styles himself as the supremely professional, ethical one, but he stitches up his (caring, earnest) brother with the callousness of a Roman emperor - JUST LIKE REAL PEOPLE DO.
Jimmy's girlfriend depends on him to make life interesting, but expects him to remain in control of the chaos he creates - JUST LIKE REAL PEOPLE DO.
Mike the enforcer wants to be a genial grandpa, but gets his beloved granddaughter to help him make a 'stinger' to stop a drug truck that directly results in the death of a good Samaritan, while telling his dead son's wife that it's a soaker for the rhododendrons - JUST LIKE - you get it.
Oh, the nuances. If you're missing them, you would benefit from an introductory course in scriptwriting. Better Call Saul is streets ahead of anything else and will be savoured and appreciated long into the future. It's so good, it makes the awesome, revolutionary, phenomenal 'Breaking Bad' look like a soap opera.
The TV equivalent of Shakespeare + Tolstoy + Dostoyevsky at their best. "Your review contains a very long word which is not allowed". I take that as a compliment. Oh, I see, it was the divider.
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