Need to start this review with a confession – back in 2014, when this spin-off was announced, I was one of those people that went “I mean… I liked Saul, but can we move on from that world? Can’t Vince Gilligan (the brains behind this TV show and of course Breaking Bad) just create something new?” Good thing nobody really listens to me, as I’d been proved wrong with each new season of this amazing show and honestly, this is one of few instances, where me being wrong is great and I am really glad I was.
Because this show is almost pure miracle – the way it’s shot, the way it’s planned, all those amazing details (strongly recommend visiting subreddit for this TV show to see how many details you can put into a scene/episode, where I’ve missed plenty myself) and the slow-burn, almost Vince’s staple by now.
From now on, the review might contain spoilers from seasons 1 – 5!
People tend to remember only the great action pieces from Breaking Bad, or bad-ass one-liners, and often forget that the first two seasons or so were not that action packed, but were building up, really slowly, towards something great. And this TV show isn’t any different. Vince has done it again.
The first 2 seasons of this TV show I was saying something along the lines “it’s a great TV show, with excellent camera work, but it’s still expendable, we know what’s going to happen after all!” After the final episode of season 5, I need to correct myself. This is excellent TV show with stunning camera work, I have no idea what (exactly) will happen later on in its final season (yep, season 6 will officially be the final one) and I actually care about these characters.
I feel like I’d do a huge disservice to this show if I didn’t write about 2 people that shine the most (and let me say, pick two standouts from this show is hard, as everybody is on their A+ game) but two people that aren’t talked about as much – Rhea Seehorn and “newcomer” Tony Dalton.
Let me start with Rhea – if she doesn’t get AT LEAST nominated for every major TV award next year, you know they can’t be trusted. She truly evolved throughout the TV show from a character I didn’t really care about (again, we know she wasn’t in Breaking Bad) to the character I’m most interested in. I am really curious what her fate will be. Kim started as opposite of Jimmy, where she was usually as straight as an arrow, but Jimmy and the stress of everything got to her, to the point it’s her, not “slippin’ Jimmy”, who’s scheming and who’s planning other’s people “misfortunes”. Huge, huge props to Rhea, she’s truly excellent in this role, I hope I get to see her in more movies after Better Call Saul will end.
Tony Dalton might’ve come in later on (end of season 4) but what a presence! To an extent, his villain is really similar to Gus Fring – calm, collected, but always paying attention to everything that’s happening around him. But the difference between him and Gus, he’s unpredictable. He reminds me of a snake, elegant, moving slow and when you see him, you don’t know how he’s going to react, what to expect. And this is what makes him so entertaining. The confrontation between him, Kim & Jimmy at the end of episode 9 of this season, is definitely highlight of the show, because that scene feels like it’s going on for 30 minutes in the best way possible, that’s how tense it is.
So, to answer my question from the excerpt (“Can a show that has IMDb rating 8.7 be still underrated? You’re goddamn right!”) yes. I honestly feel this should be much higher, as this is prime example of the golden age of television I was writing about the other day. Is it better than Breaking Bad? I am not quite sure, to be honest, but I feel like it doesn’t have to be, because this is its own league. We live in a world where it DOESN’T have to better than anything, because it’s excellent on its own. And not every prequel can say that.
While watching the season’s 5 finale, something occurred to me. Maybe the reason I really like this, is the main characters still fell like normal people, who are doing abnormal things, whereas Breaking Bad at this point had Walter White in full on Heisenberg mode (normal people doing almost god like things). Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that, it was entertaining as hell, but it made Breaking Bad slightly less accessible, as I don’t know anything about that kind of life. But I can imagine living Jimmy’s live, living in the shadow of a brother, who’s much better at everything to the point you feel like you need to re-brand yourself with a new name. And checking into a hotel because you’re scared for your life and wonder whether it was a great idea to get into a bed with the cartel also feels like something normal person would’ve done.
I seriously can’t wait for the last season and Vince, I promise you this – whatever your next project will be, I’ll follow you. You’ve earned my undying respect and I can’t wait what else you’ll come up with.
That’s it for Better Call Saul? Do you like it as much as I do? Let me know!
Until next time,