With Season 5, Better Call Saul moves closer to Breaking Bad.
It is hard to believe Better Call Saul was dismissed as a cash grab by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould when it was announced. Many said it was capitalising on the popularity of Breaking Bad. But very soon, Better Call Saul became something that can stand on its own feet and move out of Breaking Bad’s shadow.
Better Call Saul is at least as good as Breaking Bad (according to some, including this scribe, even better at times) even if it is mostly devoid of big moments of drama and twists that characterised the tale of Walter White.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen Better Call Saul until season 4, now is the time to stop reading.
The fourth season of the show ended with its two primary characters, Jimmy McGill and Mike Ehrmantraut, descending further into darkness. While Mike offed a kind, innocent man at the orders of Gus Fring, Jimmy completed his transformation into Saul Goodman from a kind-hearted man to a shallow weasel lawyer we saw in Breaking Bad.
While it is all very tragic, it was — in true Breaking Bad fashion — also incredibly human. Walter White, despite the horrifying things he did, remained human and believable right till the end. None of his actions seemed far-fetched, including the time when he tried to poison a child. This remains true in Better Call Saul. Of course, they are still two very different shows. While Breaking Bad was an explosion and much faster-paced, Better Call Saul is a tragedy playing out in slow-motion.
The best thing about the first episode of Better Call Saul Season 5 is, once again, the writing. It is only augmented by some phenomenal acting by Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Giancarlo Esposito, Michael Mando and others. The subtle touches that made Breaking Bad a cut above the rest — the visual elements, the stunning yet understated cinematography, editing and so on — are all there.
The first episode of Better Call Saul Season 5 brings it closer to Breaking Bad, and we will see Dean Norris’ wisecracking DEA Agent Hank Schrader too in the next few episodes. The show is getting better, and the only negative thing I have to say about it is it has to end — eventually.