I wrote back in April, when the show returned to our screens that Better Call Saul was “both such a delight to watch and the antithesis of America right now…” going on a long rant about The Greatest Country on Earth’s love of style over substance…
Before going on to explain how Better Call Saul eschews all of this behaviour: “Yes, Better Call Saul is more tortoise than hare, but it is this steady hand, this mastery of the craft of television that allows a crew of recognisable Breaking Bad alumni; from universe creator Vince Gilligan to Writer/Producers Gennifer Hutchinson and Peter Gould, Director Michelle MacLaren, Editors Skip McDonald and Kelley Dixon, Production Designers Tony Fanning and Michael Novotny and Art Director Paula Dal Santo to bring their A-game week in, week out that makes Better Call Saul both such a delight to watch and the antithesis of America right now.”
And it’s this love of the craft that takes Better Call Saul into my top four shows of the year. There may have been one below-par episode but, in the main, Vince Gilligan et al’s writing and direction is what TV is all about (and what many TV writers forget) – that television is storytelling through an audio/visual medium.
This not only means that a great show must visually show, not tell, it must also be steeped in meaningful metaphor, which BCS succesfully achieves time and time again.
Most prequels are spoilt from the off – we all knew the last moments of Revenge of the Sith would see Baby Luke delivered to Tattooine and Grand Moff Tarkin and Vader looking out over the Death Star construction site. But Better Call Saul’s plodding inevitability towards Jimmy McGill becoming “criminal lawyer” Saul Goodman is utterly heart-wreching as he destroys those around him.
The show made Jimmy’s brother Charles McGill (I didn’t know until recently that Michael McKean was from Spinal Tap) into one of television’s most vile characters… and yet I wept at the thought of losing him in the season finalé.
As I wrote in June: “Better Call Saul was meant to ping pong our allegience and sympathy between ailing, menatlly ill Charles and scoundrel Jimmy but I never felt anything for the elder brother except hate. Until now. And that’s the beauty of the series.”
What monstrous act Jimmy unleashes upon Kim Wexler is still unknown, but it will be unbearablel to watch and this is the proof in the pudding that Gilligan and co. have taken something long considered difficult – the prequel – and showed how it should be done.
Better Call Saul will be back in April, I think.