Over the last two nights, AMC has been kicking Better Call Saul into high-gear with the premiere of its fifth season. And while I hate having to say this, Potential Spoilers Beyond This Point in The Piece, because people have dropped off from watching what's consistently been one of the best shows on television. This isn't surprising; slow-burns can be cool for season-long stories, but many don't seem to stay dedicated when that burn goes on for seasons. Just look at what happened to Mr. Robot's viewership; Season 2 took a lot of steam out of the saga, only to come back harder for its third and (phenomenal) fourth season. Them's the breaks, but it feels weird considering how much people loved Breaking Bad; y'all made series creator Vince Gilligan make El Camino!
That said, with the end of Season 4 of Better Call Saul, we finally got to see Saul fully emerge. And now, over two nights, we've been able to see him operate...and the ramifications of those actions. We're in the end game, and excited, so I decided to holler at William Goodman—frequent Complex contributor and fan of the series—to share some thoughts about Saul's return.
William: Perhaps even more than the show it originally spun off from, Better Call Saul has been about duality; It’s often quite literal—the show focuses on two separate character plots and sees a character form two distinct identities—in a way that would make Breaking Bad blush. By the time Breaking Bad finished its run, it was clear Walter White was always Heisenberg; the persona had been entombed by suburban domesticity, lingering around for the right catalyst to remerge. The same can’t be said for Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), who’s journey over the last four seasons of the AMC series has shown that while he was prone to a good grift every now and again, he largely didn’t have it in him to fully commit to the lifestyle. But with the death of his brother, the show’s fourth season saw Jimmy’s moral compass, largely disappear.
Now, as we start Season 5, we can fully say hello to Saul Goodman. And enter, finally, the true Breaking Bad prequel many have been waiting to see. The first two episodes of Season 5 (“Magic Man” and “50% Off”) finally bring together the two disparate halves of the show—the Jimmy plot and the Mike plot—together in a manner that I think fans have been really craving since the show was first announced.
Khal, I’ve been a fan of the show for quite a while now, and find it to be better than Breaking Bad. That statement is going to be heretical amongst some circles. But I would say every single second of doc review has been worth it to get us to many of the moments we see in these first two episodes. What say you?
khal: Better than Breaking Bad? It’s hard to say. I thoroughly enjoy Better Call Saul more than I do when running back through Breaking Bad, but I think loving the two of these series means examining different sides of the shows. In Breaking Bad, it was a downward spiral almost from go; we got to see Walter White rocket quickly into evil, then wallow in that muck for the remainder of its show. With Saul, Jimmy’s descent is more prolonged. He’s technically spent more time trying to stay on the side of good than break bad, but watching his inevitable decline has been presented at a slower pace, providing an intense burn that we’re only now just starting to see in action.
Looking back at Bad, it’s hilarious to think how little we knew about Saul. Shifty lawyer who had no problem representing the lowest of the low? Bob Odenkirk ate that character up, giving the series a much-needed guide that would tease you into madness. Without giving you that back story, you knew he’d taken it there. With Saul, we’re seeing how a man gets driven to that point, and it’s incredible.
Frustrating? It can be. The relationship between Jimmy and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is scary; I want to see the two of them living blissfully. I feel like we’re going to see them explode as Kim just can’t take the feeling she has in her gut about Jimmy. Seeing her suffer has been the worst, and with this being the penultimate season, I smell trouble for our girl.
What would you say was one of your favorite moments in these first two episodes?