The Buzz: ‘Better Call Saul’ Proves It’s Still One Of The Best Prequels Of All Time
Coming off the heels of the devastating season three finale Lantern, season four of Better Call Saul is quickly shaping up to be the most explosive season of the series yet. While episode one, Smoke was mostly focused on setting up the pieces for the rest of the season, episode two, Breathe is where things really start to get nuts. With the death of one of the most important characters on the show last season, Smoke and Breathe have managed to excellently keep the momentum rolling, all while opening up countless different routes for the series to traverse. With Jimmy so close to becoming the Saul we know from Breaking Bad, now is the best time to jump in on Better Call Saul, less you risk being spoiled.
The filmmaking in Better Call Saul continues to be top notch. The series continues to make seemingly trivial and boring scenes exciting and fun. Mike driving around on a cart inspecting a factory floor has no right to be as suspenseful or entertaining as it is. Having proven itself before that every scene has a purpose, we're okay that not everything is clear in the beginning, but trust that the consequences will be exciting and unpredictable. We understand Mike as a character and we know whatever he’s doing, is for a good reason. With this trust, we are rewarded with complex reveals and stellar filmmaking. Fun music, quick cuts, and witty dialogue keep us on the edges of our seats wondering what these minor actions will build up to.
One of the ways Better Call Saul excels as a prequel where so many others have failed before is in its characters. While we already know that any characters that appear in Breaking Bad are safe, Better Call Saul introduces plenty of interesting new characters for us to worry about. Characters like Chuck, Kim, and Nacho are just as memorable and enjoyable to watch as any character from Breaking Bad. Returning characters Mike and Jimmy grow significantly over the course of Better Call Saul and the mystery of what will cause them to evolve into the characters they are in Breaking Bad keeps them captivating. It’s in Breathe in particular that we get to see a new side of Jimmy as he shows disdain for the gullibility of those he’s swindled. Chuck’s death is clearly having a bigger impact on him than he’d like to admit. One of the worst things a series can do is kill off a character solely for the thrill of it, but this is not the case with longtime character Chuck. His death has had huge ramifications so far with everything Jimmy, Kim and Howard have done so far being driven by the loss of Chuck.
One of the most genius aspects of Better Call Saul was the decision to include fast forwards of Saul’s life as Gene, post-Breaking Bad. Now not only does the prequel serve to show how Jimmy becomes Saul, but also what happens to Saul once he becomes Gene. This extra layer not only adds more tragedy to the fall of Jimmy McGill, but it also adds a sense of uncertainty and fear for the character. Scenes featuring Gene are some of the most intense moments in the series as it feels like he is about to explode from stress at any moment. Smoke puts Gene in the greatest danger yet as he not only has to test out his fake identity at a hospital, but he also runs into a taxi driver from Albuquerque who can’t stop eyeing him up. We're not likely see any more of Gene this season, but with another season already confirmed, Smoke could be the setup for Gene’s story to finally come to a head next season.
Despite Better Call Saul still taking place in the same universe as Breaking Bad, the two differ greatly when it comes to pacing and tone. For the last three seasons, Better Call Saul has been paced much slower and was not nearly as violent as Breaking Bad. The characters had only dipped their toes in the shallow end of the world of crime, but all of that has changed with Breathe. Not only has this season fully embraced crime, but Breathe also brought us the first death that rivals the brutality of some of Breaking Bad’s most iconic deaths.
Season four is the closest it’s ever been to Breaking Bad, but at the same time still maintains the aspects of the show that fans have come to love. Episodes still take their time, characters are still dynamic and the filmmaking is still some of the best on cable TV. While the absence of Chuck has forever changed the landscapes of the series, all of the remaining main characters continue to find themselves in enthralling new situations. Jimmy is struggling to find a purpose, Kim is desperately trying to keep herself and Jimmy from reaching their breaking points, Mike is adjusting to working under Gus, and Nacho and Gus are left dealing with the consequences of Hector’s stroke. All in all, Better Call Saul season four is off to a great start and is more suspenseful than ever.