Review: Better Call Saul Season 6 – Episodes 1-7
Archie Lockyer recaps the first seven episodes of the wildly popular Breaking Bad prequel, as “Slippin” Jimmy McGill completes his transition into Saul Goodman
It is impossibly hard to decide where to start, so I may as well start with Jimmy McGill. Oh Jimmy. Bob Odenkirk writes in his memoir Comedy, Comedy, Comedy, Drama about how his fear for a Breaking Bad spinoff about the sleazy Criminal (criminal with a capital C) lawyer, Saul Goodman, would be that his character is inherently unlikeable. Sleazy, slippery as an eel, morally bankrupt. You can see why Odenkirk was a little aloof. Yet, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould transform with masterful ease this good-for-nothing crook into one of the most nuanced, empathetic yet tragically corrupted characters ever to set foot on our screens, by showing us the pre-Saul life. The Jimmy McGill years. Jimmy McGill is a guy who ‘does the wrong thing for the right reasons’, yet by Season 6, we look through our fingers as this guy who we used to relate to falls deeper down the Saul Goodman rabbit hole, losing any sense of good and evil. Odenkirk’s performance, if it wasn’t obvious by now is tantalizing, mixing comedy and drama with perfect chemistry, burning upon our screen, a beautiful performance that had me on the edge of my seat. I could pick any number of scenes from this season to highlight Bob Odenkirk being one of the greatest actors working today.
The stylistic leaps and bounds between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are obvious when watching them back-to-back. The way that in ‘Saul’, particularly in Season 6, the deep hues of brown and blacks contrasted with the emphasis on bright, garish colours such as one of the tensest, most ridiculous scenes of the show during a boxing match.
Odenkirk’s performance, if it wasn’t obvious by now is tantalizing, mixing comedy and drama with perfect chemistry, burning upon our screen
Talking (and by that, I mean raving) about Better Call Saul to my friends, one of the biggest criticisms (or assets) of the show is that it takes its time. The show is slow, requiring patience. This doesn’t change in Season 6. In comparison to Breaking Bad where there is a constant drip of action, Season 6 has two different storms brewing, released in the third and seventh episodes, respectively. There are scenes that don’t seem to go anywhere. Yet, Gilligan and Gould make us appear foolish, questioning their narrative. There is so much care and detail paid into this show that my honest advice would be when watching this season, don’t guess or theorize because there isn’t a chance you’ll know where its going. Allow the writers to stack the pins and watch in awe as they knock them down.
Specifically, the third episode of the season, “Rock and Hard Place”, is the standout tour de force. Written by Gordon Smith, the unsung hero of Better Call Saul, who also wrote ‘Chicanery’, the best episode of the entire series. Here we focus on Nacho, who frankly has been an odd character, never entirely sure where he ends up, only that it’s not going to be good since he isn’t in Breaking Bad. I was left in total awe as a result of Smith’s fantastic writing, ‘Rock and Hard Place’ is a nerve-racking joy, constantly keeping us questioning Nacho’s fate and whether he can survive against the odds. He solidifies Nacho as a character equivalent to a beautiful blue rose in the desert.
This review doesn’t scratch the surface of Better Call Saul Season 6. Gilligan and Gould excel in making us feel one way about certain characters and then slowly making us question our own judgment. Jimmy and Nacho are just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t talk about every character in extensive detail. There are so many fantastic characters, Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler, Patrick Fabian as Howard Hamlin, Tony Dalton as Lalo Salamanca to name but a few.
Basically, watch Better Call Saul. Otherwise, I have a good lawyer to ensure you do.