WARNING! Spoiler Alert!
With Better Call Saul hitting its mid-season episode this week, by this point we should be knee-deep in the drama (or comedy, or whatever genre they’re going for). But, unfortunately it feels like not a whole lot has happened so far in the season, and I don’t feel like I have much to be excited about for the remainder, either.
Although the plot is getting deeper, and we’re getting a lot more insight into story-lines such as Jimmy’s brother, Chuck, and his condition, it all feels like plot strings that could have been developed in the space of one episode, not five. I was pretty sure Chuck had a mental condition from the very moment his “electricity allergy” was first introduced, but it’s taken us until now for it to actually be addressed. Now, the question for Jimmy is: accept his brother needs mental help, or leave Chuck to remain as a terrified recluse?
Will we need the next 5 episodes to sort this situation out? I certainly hope not!
And by now, we all understand business was difficult in the beginning for Saul Goodman, we’ve seen it in detail in every episode so far. It just seems to be getting a bit dragged out now. We’re all waiting for something more! So, after episode 4’s billboard drama, Jimmy finally manages to get some business, but not really the type he was looking for. Although I did love the sex toilet scene (“Fill me up, Chandler!”), and the old lady distributing ornaments in her will, they seemed like a bit of a cheap effort to get some laughs out of us, and served no real purpose but to remind us (again) that Jimmy is struggling for clients.
We were introduced to a new plot-line in the form of Kim’s suggestion that Jimmy specialise in “elder law” and focus on the older generation’s problems. Cue an entertaining scene of Jimmy dressed as Matlock, using his casual charm to appeal to the ladies at the retirement home. It’ll be very interesting to see where/if the creators will take this idea much further. I mean, how much drama can we get from elder law? Bust-ups? Shoot-outs? Unless Jimmy meets up with a seriously bad-ass pensioner very soon, I can’t see how this will become a gripping strand of the plot.
One advancement of plot which I was very pleased to see (finally!) was a bit more focus on Mike, particularly towards the end of the episode. He’s cropped up once or twice in every episode, a constant reminder that we’ll be re-united with our Breaking Bad favourite soon. But, at last we’re getting a bit more detail into Mike’s life pre-BB. Who was the lady in the car he was waiting for? And why are the Albuquerque Police at his front door? This was the main element of the whole episode that’s left me wanting more.
Stylistically, I can’t go into much detail without repeating myself, although I feel sometimes the choice of shots, music and other technical aspects in Better Call Saul feel a bit mis-matched and jarring in comparison to the pristinely done scenes we were so accustomed to in Breaking Bad. Obviously, because both have a very similar production team, they are going to be similar style choices, this was expected. But I also expected the camera-angles, shots, and montages to become even more amazing in BCS (after all, practice makes perfect), however so far these elements all feel like a step back from the brilliance seen in BB. We seen the bread-stick breaking montage in episode 2, practically mirrored by the jello scene in this week’s episode, which both seemed over-extended to the point where they verged on over-indulgence.
So, we’ve hit the mid-season, and although I will continue watching, I struggle to name many reasons why. One of the main things I’ve began to wonder is “If Breaking Bad never existed, therefore I was never a fan, would I still be watching this every week?” And sadly, I think if Better Call Saul was a completely original and independent series, I would have lost interest and switched off by now. The only thing keeping me watching is my determination that Vince Gilligan and the production gang are taunting us, lulling us into a false sense of boredom before blowing our brains out with an amazing finale.
I really hope this is the case.