So we know one thing to be true. Jimmy, or Saul as we know him in the next life, will at one point create a new persona catapulting him into a world that he was born to navigate. After a whole season of guessing the wrong twist, I’ve finally concluded there’s no twist to be had. That point A to point B timeline we’ve been given as an audience is not just a suggestion, but rather an unavoidable fact that is not to be fucked with, no matter what side story our psyche’s crave. It’s not about us, the audience, and it’s high time we appreciate the unique guidance and patience it takes a ratings hungry showrunner to avoid giving into that.
The novel approach Better Call Saul takes to its story telling is grossly simple: take a story we already know, and show us what’s in between the panels. In a world of sequels, reboots, and gritty retellings there’s a deafening moment of shock in finding originality within the road most taken. With Saul we don’t need to expect anything, because 99% of the time it takes us there by its own volition.
This year’s season ender was missing a key component that we had last, and that was the overture of the previous episodes. When Jimmy found himself walking away from Davis & Main at the end of season one without even considering their offer, we were left with a sense of who Jimmy was and what he was willing to do in order to keep himself safe and happy. Jimmy is selfish, but his selfishness has limits. This season we puttered into a finale that successfully kept the audience rocking at the edge of their seats, without revealing anything new. Which, as far as cliffhangers go, should be pitiful. We need that shock and awe factor to keep us tuned into next season right? If there’s an ounce in your being agreeing with that sentiment, then you obviously haven’t been paying attention. The episodes are available on Amazon, go on, re-watch, we’ll wait.
Though we ended on more of a fizzle than a bang, we did burn the necessary bridges that will significantly connect season three. There has been a lacking in push back against Jimmy’s actions this year. Chuck’s persistence to not keel over and die (or at least fall to the wayside) comes not from a place of self-preservation, but vengeance towards Jimmy. It’s making more sense this year with the quick flashbacks painting Jimmy in a harsh light. To add insult to injury our final look back consists of their mother crying out for Jimmy as she dies to a room in which Chuck is the only stubborn occupant. No wonder he hates his brother; there’s never been a moment to forgive or accept him because they cannot empathize with one another.
We’ve been struggling with the wanting vs. needing aspect of the Breaking Bad crossovers; in many respects the circulating “Fring’s Back” acronym theory is not only compelling, but likely indicative of where our new season will take us. But before you pat yourself on the back consider this: what will bringing Fring into our known Saul universe do for the character development we’re currently experiencing? Aside from a contented giggle and side eye at the non-believers, what are we getting from his resurgence (or rather, initial appearance) other than a steaming cup of nostalgia? Is this what we’re limited to within Jimmy’s world?
Consider the side by side storyline form Mike and Jimmy’s lives have been taking recently. With Mike on the mend and out for revenge, we are left helpless much of time to watch his mistakes unfold over and over again. Jimmy on the other hand doesn’t make mistakes because he talks his way out of them like it were a first language. While Mike struggles to protect his family, Jimmy struggles not to abandon his.
As far as season enders go, this won’t top any lists anytime soon. However, structurally speaking it was breathtaking. As Chuck lays awash with electricity, we see upside down into his fear driven scowl. Pair this with the ice cream truck driver’s helpless quivering in the back of Nacho’s truck and we see the contrast of the two men doing everything they can to get back on top, away from a situation they were blindsided by. Knowing what we do about the fate of the truck driver, it feels fair to assume that the “shocking” moment Chuck reveals his true intentions to the unseen jury will not end well for him. Just as Mike was given the out, Jimmy will take his, extending no mercy to Chuck as both of them will not fit on the floating door after the wreck.
Going into this next season we can only hope for the titillating bits that were ripening this season. I know, gross, “please don’t say juicy”. Well it will be, so suck it. The assured mutual destruction between Jimmy and Kim is inevitable. The fiery wreck that is Chuck’s life will be extinguished by his exit from Jimmy’s life all together, whether it be in death or at the hand of his smooth talking little brother. Now we’ll all be turning blue as we wait for an appearance by Fring, which I pray to the television gods happens quickly for the sake of critics everywhere (and their unassuming readers who will be fed the same garbage weekly as they look for clues).
So what’s left as we wrap up the season? Is Saul still as watchable as we all thought it was? Of course, what a stupid question. The frightening truth is the series has stumbled onto something new in the rubble of TV past. We’re literally living in the golden age of television as we’re able to find meaningful trauma in a series that spends about 90% of its time doing absolutely nothing so superbly that it tends to overshadow the larger moments in a plot. And what a magical world it is.