Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Better Call Saul Season 1 ~ Review

by: Uel Ceballos

It’s freaking brilliant. You can never compare it to Breaking Bad which was equally distinguished. There weren’t any magical formula of chemistry here; no such awe-stricken process of chemical science which Heisenberg (Walter White) demonstrated to us. But it was filled with equal measure of satire; diluted with emotion-stirring stories of family, love, and loss among others. 

Better Call Saul is the spin-off of the by far, best series in the history of television, the Breaking Bad. It tells the story of Jim McGill or we know better as Saul Goodman, years before his appearance in Breaking Bad as the famous lawyer of the notorious. At first I never thought that the story of Goodman was worth telling; not until I saw the pilot episode of the Season 1. Though I had become fond of Goodman for his role in BB as the funny life-saver of the main characters, it didn’t occur to me he could become a remarkable name in the series world just like Walter White (Breaking Bad), Frank Underwood (House of Cards), Rust Cohle (True Detective), Lady Mary Crawley (Downton Abbey) and lots of other names from the successful TV shows. One great thing about Saul was his quick-witted character; yes he got brain -- canny, droll, and ingenious. His ways could sometimes go off and disastrous, but it worked for most of the time and you’d just find yourself laughing your head off. Since Saul Goodman was always a blend of tricky, witty, and resourceful personality, you couldn’t quite see through him – is he really concerned? Does he have personal interest on the matter at hand? Isn’t he scared? But whenever he was doing decision that risked his life, you couldn’t help but think that there was something REAL good in this man after all. 

Thanks to Vince Gilligan, the brain behind Better Call Saul (and Breaking Bad) we now, get to know more of Saul Goodman. I think Bob Odenkirk had nailed the character in the BB more than what was being asked of him. It has added perhaps for the drive to push a spin-off. And as expected, he nailed twice better in the Better Call Saul, showing off now the real person behind the lawyer we saw in BB. The first season has shown us when and how Jim McGill started to break bad and it made us more sympathizing than being judgmental. Though like what we thought of Walt in BB, Jim still got the choice to do the right thing or do it in the bad way. In Better Call Saul Season 1, our plates got filled of Jim’s frustrations in life; and yes he got us sympathizing and taking on his side. He chose the curved way but that didn’t make us stop watching the show. We were now actually looking forward to the next season.

Another strong character of the season was Mike played by Jonathan Banks. This one got me. I was just thinking yet that another spin-off for Mike’s life would be good as well, and then here he came in the series. Sorry to say this, but upon knowing Mike more, a part of me hated Heisenberg for killing Mike and disposing his remains in the most awful means – by dissolving it in the hydrofluoric acid! Just imagine that – disposing Mike’s character that way after all the significant scenes which he’d been a part of. I bet Vince Gilligan was regretting it while he was submerging through Mike’s back story. I’d realize my fault if I were he. Anyway the damage has been done. Mike was already slid inside a plastic drum filled with the dissolving acid; he was disposed along with the trash collected by the truck. Nothing could turn back the time. And re-doing the BB for Mike’s sake would not work either. 

Despite the fact that we knew what they (Jim and Mike) would become in the future, it didn’t keep us from watching the series. I was moved by Mike’s story. He was indeed the coolest pap there was in the TV series. His story was more real than of Jim’s. And he moved us deeply, on that episode he confessed to his daughter-in-law about the death of his son. It was quite heart-rending, not alone with what happened, but on the way Mike had dealt with it internally. As we see him, he was a tough old guy, a man of few words. To see him showing tears and emotions – it was tear-jerking. Small wonder that Jonathan Banks would be among the strongest contenders for this year’s Emmy for the Outstanding Supporting Actor category. The same goes for Bob Odenkirk who often brings us to a rollercoaster of emotions. He’d send us laughing, then sympathizing and at times, agreeing (though we deny it to ourselves) on his dark plans. That episode where he was blown away by the fact that Chuck wasn’t and never was proud of him for passing the bar, was one helluva of a heartbreaking scene. The person you cared the most and the one you all left with in this world doubted your capability – not the capability to do great things but the capability to make great change about yourself. 

All the actors were good in this season and the timing of the scenes was perfect. Now I couldn’t wait for the next season, and please give us more of Mike. Jonathan Banks was a terrific actor. And would it be too much to ask for Jesse Pinkman’s appearance on the show? Hehe.