Elegy for a Criminal Lawyer
August 15, 2022 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Saul Goodman started as a joke -- a sleazy, motormouthed "two-and-a-half-dimensional" take on TV lawyers, a bit of comic relief brought on for a four-episode stint to help guide Breaking Bad protagonists Walter White and Jesse Pinkman into the criminal underworld. Brought to life by Bob Odenkirk, Saul proved to be one of the show's most popular characters, and in the wake of the show's blockbuster ending AMC announced a prequel spinoff series: Better Call Saul. But what was conceived as a 30-minute case-of-the-week sitcom quickly developed into a compelling legal drama and deep character study of Goodman's past as "Slippin'" Jimmy McGill, his evolution, and bleak future at an Omaha Cinnabon -- "we don’t want to get to Saul Goodman … and that’s the tragedy." Supported by vice-tight writing, masterful cinematography, and impeccable performances by Michael McKean, Patrick Fabian, Jonathan Banks, Michael Mando, Tony Dalton, Giancarlo Esposito, and especially breakout star Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler, the series has only grown more acclaimed as it progressed and, with its last batch of astonishing episodes, arguably surpassed its predecessor to become one of the greatest dramas in television history. Now, after seven years, six seasons, 62 episodes, one Peabody Award, multiple hiatuses, a COVID pause, and a brush with death, Better Call Saul is set to air its long-awaited series finale tonight at 9PM Eastern. It's showtime, folks.

Better Call Saul on FanFare, along with the finale discussion thread that I just posted (which I figure will work better for live-watching and post-finale discussion of the ending). In particular, don't miss the brilliant commentary on most episodes by MeFi's own kewb.

/r/betterCallSaul - TVTropes - Recaps for all episodes on the AV Club

The Better Call Saul Insider Podcast

The full-length theme song, by Barrie Cadogan

A playlist of the show's captivating montage sequences, point-of-view shots, and intros

A collection of extras, bloopers, and behind-the-scenes featurettes

Essays and articles:
Salon: How the tragic imagery of "Better Call Saul," rendered in black & white, tells the "emotional story"

AV Club: Better Call Saul was the perfect show for America’s grifter era

The Ringer: The Best Episodes of ‘Better Call Saul,’ Ranked

Deadline: Vince Gilligan Says ‘Better Call Saul’ Will Be Last Show In ‘Breaking Bad’ Universe

Variety: How ‘Better Call Saul’ Recreated ‘Breaking Bad’s’ Most Iconic Set
Video essays:
Why Better Call Saul's Cinematography is the Best on Television

How to use color like Better Call Saul

Understanding Kim Wexler
Other videos:
American Greed: James McGill - an in-universe true-crime mockumentary, along with bountiful "training videos" featuring the main cast

Can't Fool a Con-man | Jimmy’s Schemes and Cons

Better Call ____: a compilation of false identities

Kim Wexler bullying men for 5 minutes straight

No Picnic: a web short featuring the Kettleman family

All of this weekend's HCA Award speeches

Better Call Saul: The Gameboy Game

A compilation of bizarre memes centering on a 3D animation of Saul
posted by Rhaomi (72 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
 
As usual Rhaomi: tight tight tight!!
posted by lalochezia at 4:37 PM on August 15 [6 favorites]


I have watched neither Breaking Bad nor Better Call Saul because I assume they will be too violent and dark for what my tastes have evolved into at this stage of my life. I'm really glad so many others love the two series, and I think our entertainment landscape is probably better for them having raised the bar.
posted by hippybear at 4:43 PM on August 15 [5 favorites]


But...we could still get the sitcom, right? Because that sounds really funny!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:51 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Watched that cinematography video earlier today. I don't normally attend to that sort of thing in detail but I will now. The contrast between the innovative lighting and composition in BCS and the earlier seasons of BB is stark. They've definitely advanced in their techniques.
posted by Hume at 4:58 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


Jonathan Banks

I recently stumbled across his YouTube channel, and he's got tons of clips from his various appearances, which are legion...

Sanford

Little House on the Prairie

Airplane!

Tales from the Crypt

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:02 PM on August 15 [8 favorites]


I just started watching BCS over the weekend and I really, really like it so far (and I've been following along the Fanfare threads and realizing how little I remember from Breaking Bad, thank you Mefites of 2015. I'm saving this thread for whenever I catch up.) If you've been waiting for this, I hope it's everything you're hoping for.
posted by jameaterblues at 5:08 PM on August 15


I've never seen the show, but Junior Brown is awesome.
posted by MtDewd at 5:11 PM on August 15 [4 favorites]


I tried Better Call Saul in the first season or two and found it just unbearably slow. Like, gorgeously, cinematically, evocatively slow... but too damn slow. Should I keep going, or is it just inherently Like That and not for me?
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:15 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


It's definitely Like That. It is a show that looooves to chew its scenery. But it is fantastic for it.

I'm a few episodes behind right now, but hope to catch up soon... It really is Kim Wexler's show by the end of it. Which is kinda hilarious: the side-character from Breaking Bad was compelling enough to spin off, and now the side character from the side character's spin-off is one of the most compelling features of the show.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:25 PM on August 15 [8 favorites]


It didn't catch me at first even though I loved Breaking Bad and love Bob Odenkirk ("Shake the crime stick!"), but I decided to try again since it was ending and am so glad I did. The whole cast is incredible and seeing how they crafted Jimmy's transformation into Saul is genius.

Also, Jonathan Banks was in the Flipper movie with Elijah Wood and it gives that movie a whole new spin thinking of him as Mike.
posted by downtohisturtles at 5:32 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Tubi Orders Adult Animated Comedy Series ‘Breaking Bear’
It follows the escapades of three bear siblings who decide they have to start selling drugs in order to raise money and save their home after gas companies start fracking next to their cave.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:10 PM on August 15


Nothing has made me feel more alienated from television, than the universal acclaim heaped on the last season of Better Call Saul--a season that rivals Lost for how intent it is on losing everything that made the show charming, intelligent and fun. Every character arc is cut short, truncated in the service of Breaking Bad callbacks. Questions are left hanging, or are given a brush-off answer. Motivations, personalities, and deeply-held traumas are forgotten in favor of a plot that squeezes forward like the last toothpaste in the tube. God, I wish the writers had been given a command to forget about Breaking Bad. Don't bother tying it in! Don't sacrifice everything about the show, just so you can have the most awkward and poorly-acted reunion scenes imaginable. It's painful, it truly is. BCS was for a moment there the best thing on TV, ever. Fan service killed it, and the weirdest thing is that no one seems to notice. Everyone loves it! Everyone is talking about what high art this last season is! It's so, so bad. So empty. And not, like, existentially empty, either. Not meaningfully empty. Just a parody of itself.
posted by mittens at 6:26 PM on August 15 [7 favorites]


If, like me, you have to wait a bit to watch the finale, perhaps you would like to pass the time with the commercial stylings of Barry Glazer.

I actually kind of hated Breaking Bad (it had its moments for me, but overall meh) but I've loved Better Call Saul. I do think this season was uneven, but I really liked the penultimate episode and am looking forward to the finale.

Rhea Seehorn better get the Emmy this year, she's overdue.

Great post Rhaomi, thanks!
posted by the primroses were over at 6:41 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


I love the series because it was never, ever afraid to be its own thing. The scene where Jimmy proves that Chuck's "EM sensitivity" is psychosomatic is as brutal as the courtroom scenes in The Caine Mutiny and A Few Good Men, and in its own way the equal of any scene of physical violence in Breaking Bad. It also proved that Bob Odenkirk is a wonderful dramatic actor, gave Michael McKean his career-best scenes, and introduced Rhea Seehorn to most people. And it did it all without trying to be Breaking Bad II: Mall Lawyer Boogaloo.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:42 PM on August 15 [10 favorites]


Cucumber water's for closers.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:49 PM on August 15 [4 favorites]


Every character arc is cut short, truncated in the service of Breaking Bad callbacks. Questions are left hanging, or are given a brush-off answer.

Hmmmm Mittens, I don't want to comment more here, as some folks are still watching and I'm sure don't want spoilers. But I'd like to hear more specifics about your opinion--maybe in the fanfare thread? I felt pretty much the complete opposite, with regard to character arcs.

(Still digesting the finale, though.)
posted by torticat at 7:33 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Also...Kim Wexler bullying men is the BEST Kim.
posted by torticat at 7:39 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


Saul was the Breaking Bad character I found least sympathetic, and I only tuned into the show for Mike's storyline when it premiered. Mad props to the actors/writers/directors/etc for turning him into someone I was emotionally invested in, and enjoyed spending several seasons with. Plus we got Kim! Everyone involved in the show did such a phenomenal job, I'm going to miss it.
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 8:32 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


I agree with mittens, this last season has been horrible, mostly due to shoehorning carol Burnett in I'd guess. Whereas I'd argue that BCS was a superior production to BB, maybe the best thing ever on tv, this last season has been slow, boring and pointless.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:39 PM on August 15


Kim Wexler is one of my absolute favorite TV or movie characters ever. What Rhea Seehorn brings to the role is crucial in that; she humanizes the character in a way that you can’t really describe. She’d better get that damn Emmy.
posted by azpenguin at 9:55 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


Just finished the finale 😭 my general thoughts:

* I thought unfortunately the early season Mike Ehrmantrout storyline was the weakest part, the show hits it's stride when Mike gets backgrounded, which is too bad.

* the first half of the final season is one of the strongest, IMO. I did enjoy the second half as an extended slow goodbye. I think the character work pays off in subtle ways but I can see why some people think it's unsuccessful. I don't remember much of Breaking Bad so the flashbacks/forwards were a miss for me until they tied together in the finale.

* don't know what else to say, I'm really sad it's over, which is honestly rare nowadays for a show that lasts this long. I hope Rhea Seehorn gets her own show soon.
posted by muddgirl at 10:17 PM on August 15


McKean was so amazing on this show. The last season with him feels to me like the best season of TV I've ever watched. I watched the season after that, too, but I couldn't watch any more, it really just felt like the end.

I watched all of BB but I liked it much less. I have never given the tiniest crap about the BB references or tie-ins in BCS.
posted by fleacircus at 10:46 PM on August 15


So the list of spinoff shows that ended up being better than the show they spun-off from is basically:

-Frasier
-Better Call Saul
?

I'd personally also put Deep Space Nine on that list, but I realize TNG vs DS9 is very much a matter of taste (I know many Trekkies who think DS9 is the worst in the franchise). I won't argue with anyone that prefers Cheers to Frasier, but BCS is so clearly superior to Breaking Bad from both a storytelling and production standpoint. And that's not a slight on BB.

It's fascinating that the shows in question were picking up the narrative of iconic TV series. They could have missed the standard set by their predecessors and still been very very good. But at worst they managed to equal what came before.
posted by dry white toast at 10:47 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


I'd seen the name of this show and sort of figured out it involved lawyers somehow, but had no idea until today it was connected to a different show. Huh.
posted by one for the books at 11:39 PM on August 15


There are a lot of links here so I can't tell if it's already linked (and I don't actually watch BB or BCS), but here is madsengland's picrew of Saul Goodman.

dry white toast, a third one for your list is Good Trouble.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 12:46 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]


I agree with mittens, this last season has been horrible, mostly due to shoehorning carol Burnett in I'd guess.

She's has a total screen-time of what ? 5-10 minutes ? But that makes the season horrible ? Sure.....
posted by Pendragon at 1:46 AM on August 16 [9 favorites]


I might be dropping something in here that I don't have the intellectual chops to carry through with, but Better Call Saul is one of the best things I've seen on maleness and masculinity - the male characters embody all sorts of archetypes, often subverting them. Which I realise is an odd thing to say. There's so much in there about responsibility and its evasion, acquisition, power, violence and fear of violence. Not so much a treatise as something to think with (and probably not intended as such by the writers, but useful to me). What does run through it is the way that gender (and personal) expectations are invisible rails we run on without knowing it - ultimately these expectations are an unseen prison that contain and destroy so many characters, and when the characters seem to have achieved what they want is when they're most confined. So many things in the series resonate with me in that way.
posted by Grangousier at 2:31 AM on August 16 [3 favorites]


I have so many conflicting emotions, but I think a huge part of me is relieved that I no longer have to worry about Kim Wexler, the greatest character in television history. I can't describe what this show has meant to me.
posted by HunterFelt at 3:08 AM on August 16 [6 favorites]


Say what you will about this season, but we did find out that Huell is not still waiting!
posted by rhizome at 3:25 AM on August 16 [2 favorites]


Giancarlo Esposito,
While waiting for the finale - just a chance a show a clip of him as a taxi passenger in 1991's "Night on Earth". - he has been brilliant for long time before the chicken.
posted by rongorongo at 4:07 AM on August 16 [2 favorites]


We are still on season one and have found it to be less than even. It just lacks the energy and push that is needed for propulsion into a gripping narrative. Hoping for a sea turn soon.
posted by DJZouke at 5:36 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]


I absolutely loved this show from beginning to end. But if you find the first season too slow, or lacking "energy," "propulsion," or "gripping narrative," IMHO just bail now. It's not that kind of show. It's not for everyone, and that's fine (nothing is).
posted by primethyme at 6:22 AM on August 16 [4 favorites]


Personally I don't agree that it's as good as Breaking Bad. That's probably because I preferred the tension and drama of the drug business plotlines and there wasn't as much of that in Better Call Saul. But I definitely think the character of Jimmy/Saul is the most interesting character from the two series

One issue I did have with Better Call Saul is that I didn't think they'd really explained how Kim became so morally flexible. She's clearly someone with a huge amount of integrity, this is shown whenever she's at work, where she always sticks to the rules, and also in how she does so much pro bono work. So I found it pretty jarring when she was so ready to get involved in Jimmy's daft revenge scheme on Howard for example. Particularly the scene where she's driving to some really important meeting and Jimmy tells her that they need to redo some photographs for their scheme to bring down Howard and she immediately turns around. I was never really that sympathetic with their quest to discredit Howard. I mean Howard wasn't totally evil was he?

To be honest I'd have to ask what on earth Kim saw in Jimmy in the first place and why she was so ready to risk her career for him. Given how dedicated she is to her work, and her level of professionalism, I just found it puzzling that she’d take part in fraud and silly cons. I also found it implausible that she would propose marriage after the way he behaved in the negotiations between Mesa Verde and the guy they were trying to kick out of his house. I know she proposed to protect him but still, I would have found it more realistic if she'd left him at that point and been incredibly angry.
posted by mokey at 6:23 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]


Nothing has made me feel more alienated from television, than the universal acclaim heaped on the last season of Better Call Saul--a season that rivals Lost for how intent it is on losing everything that made the show charming, intelligent and fun.

I think the basic problem was the writers weren't sure what to do after Michael McKean left.
posted by riruro at 7:01 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]


One issue I did have with Better Call Saul is that I didn't think they'd really explained how Kim became so morally flexible.

I think that it's explained in this flashback. Her mom didn't give a shit about her grades or how well she played the cello; this may be the only time that Kim got praise and approval from her.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:02 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]


I think the basic problem was the writers weren't sure what to do after Michael McKean left.

I agree. Once the Chuck/Jimmy storyline concluded and the show began to shift into moving pieces into place to tie into Breaking Bad it began to lose me. This is definitely a me problem as many rave over the later seasons of the show, but I found the relationship between Chuck and Jimmy to be the most interesting one on the show. The rest is quite good - and add Michael Mando and Rhea Seehorn to my favorite actors list - but nothing matches the courtroom scene with Chuck.

Also: I would gladly watch another spinoff about the Kettlemans and their tax refund scam business.
posted by fortitude25 at 7:15 AM on August 16 [4 favorites]


re: the Kettleman's...as per the Insider Podcast the BCS creative team worked with the production staff of American Greed to produce a faux 10 minute version of their show that features the Kettlemans.
posted by mmascolino at 7:25 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]


Having just binged through the first five seasons, I may just skip season six based on what I read here. BTW, never cou!d understand the hate for Howard. I found him to be the most principledi charachter. Loved the show but found all the main charachters to be morally bankrupt.
posted by charlesminus at 7:31 AM on August 16


Loved the show but found all the main charachters to be morally bankrupt.

That is indeed one of the central themes of the show.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:50 AM on August 16 [7 favorites]


Better Call Saul is worse TV than Breaking Bad but way more fascinating as art. I binged it a few months ago so I could finish the show in real time, and that was a frustrating experience: the show crawls, its narrative acts herky-jerk all over, it winds up in all sorts of bizarre tonal places, and sometimes its payoffs felt really non-existent. Breaking Bad, by comparison, is a near-perfect work of entertainment, in terms of sheer narrative propulsion, loose ends tying up, and every character getting a hell of a due.

But I've literally never rewatched a single episode of Breaking Bad since the finale aired, even though I rewatched entire seasons on a loop before we got to the actual end. It was like a chemical reaction: once it happened, it could never happen again. Better Call Saul, meanwhile, is a show that I can imagine myself rewatching and savoring slowly, over a number of years. All the things that made it imperfect by entertainment standards, I suspect, will make it delectable now that it's not about the destination.

It's hackneyed to call TV shows literary, but BCS reminds me of novels by Charles Portis and Tom Drury and the like. By not working too hard to make sure the pieces all added up to a singular whole, they more-or-less ensured that the whole wound up greater than the sum of its parts.

(It's funny that someone upthread compared this show to Lost, because I've been making a lot of comparisons along the lines of Breaking Bad:Better Call Saul::Lost:The Leftovers. This is the one that's less formally ambitious or technically precise, in ways that really feel like it's pushed the medium forward as a whole. It's no Leftovers, but damn if it didn't feel at times like every scene was somehow pushing the envelope of what television can be.)
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 8:04 AM on August 16 [4 favorites]


I'd personally also put Deep Space Nine on that list, but I realize TNG vs DS9 is very much a matter of taste (I know many Trekkies who think DS9 is the worst in the franchise).

Sure, but I know a lot of Trekkies who think that it's the best, and I'm one of them; lots of Trekkies simply prefer the show that they grew up with, which for me would be TOS, but I admire DS9 more for what it set out to do and actually did. It took the same universe as TNG, and a couple of the same characters, but it wasn't just another space opera with slightly different characters and a slightly different ship, boldly going you-know-where. It's OK to do a spin-off that doesn't completely please fans of the previous iteration. (The current Trekverse has several shows going at once that are all quite different.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:33 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]


I also think DS9 is the best Trek, I was simply saying that there is debate on the point.
posted by dry white toast at 10:56 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]


Every character arc is cut short, truncated in the service of Breaking Bad callbacks.
--mittens

This has me concerned. I watch Better Call Saul on Netflix, so I don't get this season until next year. I haven't watched Breaking Bad and, for various reasons, don't intend to. If they are spending the whole season tying it to a show I'll never see, I'm wondering if I'll be disappointed in the last season. I'm really torn now because I really like the show.
posted by eye of newt at 11:15 AM on August 16


Keep watching! Plenty to enjoy in Saul without ever watching Breaking Bad. In fact, since some of the Breaking Bad parts felt so inserted in the final season, you can almost ignore them.
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:21 AM on August 16 [3 favorites]


Flagged as FANTASTIC!!!
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 11:44 AM on August 16


I think that it's explained in this flashback.

Somehow that just doesn't ring true for me. Kim seems so very strait-laced most of the time, and so innately moral, and well-adjusted, that I have a hard time believing she came from that kind of challenging background. And if she did, and still turned out so well-adjusted, that just reaffirms how incorruptible she must be.

Perhaps if they ever showed her doing something unethical when not directly influenced by Jimmy, I might find it more plausible.
posted by mokey at 12:45 PM on August 16


Directly influenced though? She helped Jimmy with the Huel Babbinaeux thing...but she came up with the entire idea, was my read on it.
posted by tiny frying pan at 1:05 PM on August 16


"that just reaffirms how incorruptible she must be"

Kim is incorruptible from outside influence but she's not all goodness and light. The show demonstrates that she really enjoys breaking rules and playing cons when she thinks the victim needs to get got.

The Venn diagram where she and Jimmy meet is the love of the game. They both see how flawed the world is and come to different conclusions - but they both love pulling a con.

The Huel thing, for example, Kim sees that Huel is getting railroaded. He might deserve a slap on the wrist but he's about to go down for a true mistake. She goes along with the con because the outcome is right.

Kim really hated Howard. We see that when she insists on paying back tuition because she doesn't want anything from him. But the outcome there was too much, and she regrets it.

Jimmy couldn't have talked her into that, she had to decide for herself. But she's not above doing these things - she just has to get there on her own. Jimmy, OTOH, can be pushed to do things he might not want to do. He was ready to back off on Howard, but Kim pushed him and he folded.
posted by jzb at 1:24 PM on August 16 [3 favorites]


*Perhaps if they ever showed her doing something unethical when not directly influenced by Jimmy, I might find it more plausible.*

They did, multiple times, including that very flashback.

Anyhow, I'm in the "BCS is better than BB" camp. Breaking Bad had some GREAT episodes/seasons, but they weren't all to that standard - some of them really dragged on and focused on things that ended up not really being important to the tale they were trying to tell. Better Call Saul had pretty consistent high quality storytelling until maybe this second half of the final season, where they 'had to' start wrapping things up.
posted by destructive cactus at 2:52 PM on August 16 [1 favorite]


Better Call Saul was my fave and the best TV show that I'd seen in a while! (We didn't really follow Breaking Bad closely before that, we watched a bit, it was okay.)

I didn't love the 5th season as much, it seemed like the concept was tiring and going through the motions. Haven't seen the new season yet.

The one plot thing about the earlier story (spoils) that really got me was when Kim brought in a big client that made the firm lots of money, and then Howard just demoted her. Christ what an asshole.
posted by ovvl at 6:09 PM on August 16


BCS was pretty good, but not that good.

I enjoyed it but the plot was really treading water in places, it could have done with some trimming down.

The endless, interminable back and forth legal hi-jinks just got dull in places.

The acting (entire cast) and the photography and imagery all excellent though.

With some editing down, it would have been amazing
posted by zog at 4:38 AM on August 17


(I was heavily there for the legal hijinks! Some of us are nerdy that way. One of the greatest things about it was how realistic all the lawyering was)
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:40 AM on August 17




I watch Better Call Saul on Netflix, so I don't get this season until next year.

magnet:?xt=urn:btih:fe3506d85fd9b7aaaebf9880125fca6897299524
posted by flabdablet at 9:33 AM on August 17 [1 favorite]


We are still on season one and have found it to be less than even. It just lacks the energy and push that is needed for propulsion into a gripping narrative. Hoping for a sea turn soon.

it never came for me.

I stopped after one season. But then I bailed on Breaking Bad about halfway through Season Three. I could see where it was going ... a slow trip to hell for all involved ... and ultimately found it quite easy to stop tuning in. And I have no problem with a grim to the point of nihilistic movie or novel. But that's different from a multi-season TV show. At some point, it just gets to feeling like riding shotgun on somebody else's depression. For me anyway.

And that's where it felt Saul was heading. All the humour draining out. Lots of shadow oozing in to fill the hole.
posted by philip-random at 3:35 PM on August 17


What a great post and round-up of links—so much here i haven’t seen yet. Ive been avoiding the internet (well, as much as possible) because we couldn't watch the finale till last night. This will be a fabulous way to help wind down from an wxcellent show.

I loved Carol Burnett’s eleven-hour series appearance so, so much.
posted by pepper bird at 5:32 AM on August 18 [3 favorites]


Somehow that just doesn't ring true for me. Kim seems so very strait-laced most of the time, and so innately moral, and well-adjusted, that I have a hard time believing she came from that kind of challenging background. And if she did, and still turned out so well-adjusted, that just reaffirms how incorruptible she must be.

You may be mistaking diligence and professionalism for goodness and morality.

The Understanding Kim Wexler video above makes the case that Kim is an addict.

She and Jimmy are in a cycle where Jimmy disrespects her, she seems to be detaching from him, and then they pull a con, she gets her fix, they make mad sex, and they're thick as thieves until the next time Jimmy pulls a relationship boner. The cycle escalates until suddenly they're not just taking candy from idiots in bars -- they're plotting to utterly destroy a man's career and reputation.

The video also points out that Kim's objections to Jimmy's shenanigans are not moral or ethical objections, they're practical objections. They're not "you're doing the wrong thing." They're "what if you get caught?"
posted by Sauce Trough at 9:25 AM on August 18 [3 favorites]


loved Carol Burnett’s eleven-hour series appearance so, so much.

They wrote her perfectly. I loved the bit where she recounts how she had to spend so much time dialing long distance to straighten out her dumb kid's legal problems ... perfect boomer tone. Sounds just like my mom.
posted by Sauce Trough at 9:31 AM on August 18 [3 favorites]


one last thing: the alchemy of Better Call Saul for me was the way it showcased how its people contained multitudes, how it showcased their contradictions in a compelling and believable way. Almost everyone on Better Call Saul was a Reddit of a person; they all have dark sides and most of them do terrible things to other people, but they also all have some element of nobility.

You have Chuck, who is a principled man but who is also haughty and cold, and his occasional thaws are some of BCS's best moments. You have Kim, a righteous defender of the meek with strong bootstrap energy who also has a thrillseeking side that traps her in a terrible no-good relationship. You have Jimmy, a grifter with a conscience so powerful that he has to invent an entire new identity so he can neutralize it. You have Mike, the BCS version of Walter White, who murders people who don't deserve it so that his granddaughter and daughter can have security.

The only straightforward character is Fring, who is basically a monster with very few humanizing moments in BCS -- I think the only moment of vulnerability we get from him is when he's at the bar and he backs away from the fellow who is chatting him up.

Fiction is different from reality in that fiction has to make sense to us. That makes it really really difficult to convincingly portray characters who are directly acting out their internal contradictions and why I'm not surprised to see folks saying that some of the characters on BCS just don't make sense. (and those people aren't wrong! if they're not convinced that Kim is a real person who could exist, that's a totally valid take)
posted by Sauce Trough at 10:25 AM on August 18 [4 favorites]



So the list of spinoff shows that ended up being better than the show they spun-off from is basically:

-Frasier
-Better Call Saul
?


Totally off-topic, but:

-The Simpsons (spun off from The Tracey Ullman Show)
-Daria (from Beavis and Butthead)
-Happy Days (from Love, America Style)
-Boston Legal (from The Practice)
posted by LooseFilter at 12:05 PM on August 18 [1 favorite]


also also re: that characters-containing-multitudes thing, gotta talk about Lalo, who is a murderous asshole in the happy service of brutal men -- but tell me that you didn't fist-pump a little when he turned back from his escape and went back inside to exact revenge on the cowardly assassins who murdered a bunch of civilians who were dear to him.

Season 6 Lalo is basically the protagonist of his own little Liam Neeson style revenge movie.
posted by Sauce Trough at 1:43 PM on August 18 [1 favorite]


Lalo Salamanca was far and away the highlight of the series, imo. I got back to watching it (after abandoning it a season in) simply because I'd heard about him from afar, and man: so many people turn in fantastic performances on this show, but Tony Dalton's every last moment is sublime.

I've been telling people that he's terrifyingly akin to a live-action Bugs Bunny. He's utterly charming, utterly chill, bends reality around him, and will murder or disfigure you if it feels like a funny thing to do. Breaking Bad burned me out on chilling psychopaths, so much so that I really didn't love whenever BCS dipped into that well, but I made an exception for Lalo, who is fantastic from his first moment to his last.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 2:11 PM on August 18 [7 favorites]


I've been an Odenkirk fan since Mr. Show but just now got around to this. I'm only on season two but it's already far more compelling than Breaking Bad, which fell flat for me after season one.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:40 AM on August 19 [1 favorite]


I absolutely loved this show.

Like others, I bailed early on in the first season, but thankfully I returned to it, and it was worth every hour of my time!
posted by chaz at 1:30 PM on August 19



So the list of spinoff shows that ended up being better than the show they spun-off from is basically:


Danger Man (aka Secret Agent Man)
Prisoner
posted by philip-random at 3:36 PM on August 19


The Mary Tyler Moore show yielded Rhoda, Maude, Phyllis (okay, that one wasn't good, but the theme song is amazing), and Lou Grant.
posted by hippybear at 7:15 PM on August 19


(Wasn't Maude from All In The Family?)
posted by mittens at 3:40 AM on August 20


Hrm. That might be the case. But the others are from MTM.
posted by hippybear at 3:43 PM on August 20


Just wonderful: The Beauty of Better Call Saul

I'm really going to miss the visual luxuriance of this show.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:33 PM on August 23 [4 favorites]


Whoever suggested concentrating on the visuals has helped me appreciate this series much more. Thank you again Metafilter crew!
posted by DJZouke at 1:00 PM on August 31




In other news, the show got snubbed at the Emmys, including Rhea Seehorn in her first nomination. Apparently they're only considering the first half-season this time, though, so there's still hope for next year.

Bonus: The beautiful "Something Stupid" montage popped up for me on YouTube earlier, and while watching it I made the delightful discovery that the song mirrors the montage by playing the male and female vocal tracks on either side -- just like the split-screen visuals.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:58 PM on September 12 [3 favorites]


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