I have a general rule when it comes to television shows. I always give the first three to five episodes a fighting a chance. There are some shows I’ve watched a few episodes of and never got into it. Sometimes I will go back and dive deeper if I think I didn’t give it a fair shot. Admittedly, I may have been the only one who was sour on the first season of Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul. In the shows debut season, creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan unwisely choose to focus on side characters rather than the shows name sake. Breaking Bad is one of the best television shows of all time, that’s why I really wanted to give this show a shot.
Yet, through the first season and a half, I couldn’t help but find the narrative direction of the show aimless and seemingly focusing on the wrong things. Better Call Saul has aged well. After a manic but fruitful and intriguing end to season two, the newest season was definitely on my radar. I’m glad I stuck around. Better Call Saul has matured into one of the best shows on TV right now. The focus is all on Jimmy McGill now, whom Breaking Bad fans know will eventually become criminal lawyer Saul Goodman, and this season is the best season of television I have seen in a while.
The season begins with Jimmy’s (Bob Odenkirk) confession of doctoring legal documents to help out his friend (girlfriend?) Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) win a major case. Jimmy’s brother Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) is out to show that his brothers true colors are not pretty.
More than any of the previous two seasons, season three digs deeper and deeper into these characters. Gilligan and Gould have found a way to bring Jimmy front and center while still checking in on some of our favorite characters like Mike and Gus Fring without it feeling too distracting like it has in the past. Where they dig the deepest, is the ever devolving relationship between Jimmy and Chuck. In the seasons best episode, Chuck and Jimmy have a brilliantly executed sequence in the courtroom that culminates in the shows biggest proverbial mic drop moment of its three year run. We also learn more about Kim and her increasing workload all the while dealing with Jimmy’s problems. She might be on the verge of a mental breakdown and the writers have created an interesting arc to explore in the next season.
One of the things I’ve always admired about Better Call Saul is that is that recipe you put in the slow cooker for eight hours. They’ve always managed to make exciting plot points stand among its sluggish pace. Now the show has begun to pick up. We are seeing some Breaking Bad alumni join the fray as we inch closer to the events of that shows timeline. The show brings in the likes of Gus Fring, gives us more of Mike, and the genesis of the feud between Tio Salamanca and Don Eladio. All of these points are done incredibly well and the performances are top notch.
Gilligan’s shows have always had a unique visual style and the cinematography in Better Call Saul is some of the best on TV. Gilligan and Gould love to use lingering shots and symbolic imagery. It was a staple of Breaking Bad to have pieces of foreshadowing and this show is really no different.
AMC has yet to officially renew Better Call Saul as of this posting, but it seems likely the show will get a fourth season. We are set up for a roller coaster to ride to the reveal fans of the show have been waiting for. And if season three is any indicator, the season(s) to come are sure to spurn an exciting conclusion to the Jimmy McGill saga.
Best Episode: Episode 5, “Chicanery”
Worst Episode: Episode 1, “Mabel”
Season Score: 9.5/10
Consensus: Better Call Saul ratchets up the pace in season three, diving deeper into its well developed characters and picking up the pace as we near Jimmy’s transition into criminal lawyer, Saul Goodman.