Better Call Saul (Season 3)
AMC, Mondays 10/9 Central
Apr 10, 2017
The third season of AMC's Better Call Saul is at once cementing its well deserved independence from its legendary predecessor Breaking Bad, while looking to draw ever closer to that show's dramatic pitch. Beginning directly from the end of season two, as if it had never stopped shooting, in this prequel series we observe the parallel storylines of Jimmy McGill (later known as Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk) and Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banls) begin to bend in the trajectories that will ultimately intersect with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad, although that's clearly some ways off still.
We do delight in the retroactive reentry of certain old friends of Breaking Bad lore and as they slowly populate the narrative, the more wonderfully blighted and intense the Albuquerque, New Mexico landscape, as well as the show's tone, becomes. Enough real estate has been built up around these characters to leverage its following into doing just that. The slow unfolding of Saul's and Mike's backstories is glorious in its build up of clues into their Shakespearean convergence ahead in their future. Even in the most laboriously paced sequences, it's all worth it for getting to learn how Saul and co. veer farther into their unscrupulous lanes. The added bonus is the pre-Saul character development of Jimmy's nefarious brother Chuck (Michael McKean) and his fellow lawyer/love interest Kim (Rhea Seehorn).
Patient observation of small moves, without word or reveal, is rewarded. At times you even start to feel like Mike on a stakeout. The complete dissection of an '87 Caprice station wagon in search of a tracking device, the significance injected in the replacing of batteries, the conflict over the type of punctuation in a legal document—these all carry the import only co-creator Vince Gilligan could bestow.
The beauty is in the discovery of how much terrain there can be for setting up the chess pieces for the world of Breaking Bad. Co-creators Gilligan and Peter Gould make sure to walk you through it at a slow pace, so you can admire the cacti. (www.amc.com/shows/better-call-saul)
Author rating: 9/10
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