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‘Better Call Saul’ rings in a new era of storytelling standards

‘Better Call Saul’ rings in a new era of storytelling standards

‘Better Call Saul’ rings in a new era of storytelling standards
September 08
13:00 2022

Content warning: The following story contains spoilers for “Better Call Saul” and “Breaking Bad.”

The sixth and final season of “Better Call Saul” ends an era of expertly made television by delivering a tension-filled rollercoaster that will leave fans more than satisfied.

Twelve years after “Breaking Bad” introduced audiences to the crime-riddled world of Albuquerque, New Mexico, “Better Call Saul” takes a closer look at both Saul Goodman’s story and the universe created by Vince Gilligan.

This show goes out of its way to prove that Gilligan and the other showrunners are masters of tragedy. Not a single character is free from their horrible end. Season six digs into how these characters deal with the futility of their resistance.

The season’s 13 episodes are overflowing with raw talent and emotion. Every actor gives their best character performances throughout the entirety of both series. Michael Mando’s performance as Nacho Varga seethes with fury and determination that has viewers on the edge of their seats as he navigates last season’s consequences. Jonathan Banks’ character, Mike, is given one of the best dialogues in the show, as he talks with Nacho’s father about the meaning of justice.

“Better Call Saul” is acutely aware that these final episodes are the last time audiences will see their favorite characters. It manages to throw in resolutions for characters that viewers felt needed more screen time. The last episode has a surprisingly large roster of powerhouses that leave no open threads in the story, even for characters we haven’t seen in years.

Pulling the show altogether is Jimmy McGill, better known as Saul Goodman and later as Gene Takovic. Jimmy is still front and center throughout the show, and Bob Odenkirk’s performance reaches new heights. The comedian-turned-drama actor plays not one but three different personas of the same character.

Fans have been waiting for six seasons to see the moment Jimmy truly “becomes” Saul Goodman. However, with every step closer to Saul, we empathize with the spirit of Jimmy McGill. The closing shots of episode nine give us a revelation that entirely reshapes the character: Saul Goodman is a coping mechanism for the man locked inside.

Odenkirk’s outstanding acting is matched by his costar Rhea Seehorn, who has become a fan favorite over the years as Kim Wexler. Kim’s absence in “Breaking Bad” had fans speculating for years what her fate would be. The end result will shock even the most attentive of fans.

Seehorn goes all-in on the role and delivers a subtle but passionate characterization that culminates in a heart-wrenching expulsion of emotion. Seehorn’s performance as the hard-working lawyer earned her an Emmy nomination, and the final season leaves no question as to why.

Though the grief, loss and tragedy throughout the show is severe, a surprising element of the show’s final moments is the affirmation of a true love story. Jimmy and Kim’s dynamic throughout the entire series is electric and very unique for a TV show. The two aren’t traditionally affectionate, nor are they portrayed as particularly likable people. Season six throws their relationship into its most dramatic conflict yet — but as the screens fades to credits, the love that resonates between the characters is undeniable.

This season goes out of its way to push the boundaries of what television cinematography can be. The producers of “Breaking Bad” dipped their toes into engaging cinematography with “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” back in 2019, and what they learned from creating the film definitely shows.

Gone are the overly saturated shots of the desert “Breaking Bad” popularized. Every frame of “Better Call Saul” feels intentional.

Some choices are a bit too on-the-nose. Every moment of the show that takes place after “Breaking Bad” is shot entirely in black and white. It makes a visually interesting piece, but the directness of it comes off as blunt in a show that is otherwise meticulously implicit.

What is arguably most enjoyable about the last season of “Better Call Saul” is how it bolsters “Breaking Bad” and the rest of the story’s universe. Knowing the backdrop to Walter White’s meth empire highlights his character progression even further: his ego ends up destroying everything “Better Call Saul” built. For those who have already seen “Breaking Bad,” knowing certain characters’ sacrifices are in vain only twists the knife further.

You don’t need to be a fan of “Breaking Bad” to love “Better Call Saul”. The writing, dialogue and cinematography is a one-of-a-kind magnum opus. It’s not a high-action show, but it is artistic in its delivery. If you’re looking for something that goes a long way to push against expectations and succeeds on all levels, then you better call Saul.

Ayden’s rating: 5/5

Featured Illustration by Erika Sevilla

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Ayden Runnels

Ayden Runnels

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