Monday, August 6, 2018
With the long-awaited release of season 4 tonight, one begins to garner the idea that this may be it for Better Call Saul. Creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have stated that Saul won't exceed the length of its progenitor, Breaking Bad, which means a season 5 would be the limit. However, the opening Cinnabon scenes are possibly finally drawing the noose around Jimmy's existence in Nebraska, with the blankly menacing stares from the cab driver with the 'Albuquerque' air freshener. One could also sense a breaking point at the end, after all the emotional turmoil of Chuck's death, when Jimmy declares that his death is Howard's "cross to bear" when the latter clearly came to Jimmy and Kim seeking sympathy. This is the blame shifting that Jimmy has engaged in throughout his life, but never in such a ruthless manner. There was always the angst apparent in his awareness that he was really doing someone wrong. This time, he's just coasting, likely not least because he's found the angle that lets him off the hook he'd just imagined himself on because of the insurance stunt.
But by that time, we already knew that Jimmy had turned a corner in his emotional transformation. The best moment of the episode was when he and Kim were sitting on the bench outside the ruin of Chuck's house and Jimmy was muttering about how Chuck had been getting better and "something made him relapse." Just watching Rhea Seehorn's face was a treat because so many emotions washed over it in the space of a few seconds it was hard to keep up with all of them. There was the frustration with Jimmy still thinking Chuck could have gotten better; there was the concern for his emotional state; there was the angst over how she was going to get him to change his mind and not blame himself... but there was also the hesitation. That hesitation said that she knew why Chuck had "relapsed" and what may have led to his state of mind that caused the "accident" to happen. She knew because she knows Jimmy. She knows what Jimmy did to Chuck's career and life. She knows how casual Slippin' Jimmy can be about the travails of others. No matter how much she loves Jimmy McGill, there's an inner self to him that's basically amoral. She's been making excuses to herself or simply forgiving him for it up to now, but the crux point may have been reached.
The other clue we might have that this is the final seasons is Bob Odenkirk's statement that "Breaking Bad is going to swallow season 4." With Mike Ehrmantrout well on his way to becoming Gus Fring's fixer and the latter's business now rolling with Hector having been reduced to what will be his wheelchair-bound state, we're rapidly approaching the state of affairs that saw Saul enmeshed in that business as the "criminal lawyer" that Walter White first encountered on behalf of one of his dealers.
Speaking of which, Jonathan Banks continues to excel as Mike. Despite the fact that he ended up doing the "Axel Foley in the bonded warehouse" thing as he was scoping out Madrigal, that whole scene kept us intrigued as we watched him develop an idea of just what kind of front Lydia and Gus were running. You can tell that he's become more comfortable with his return to the twilight of the law, if only by the obvious boredom that he experienced while sitting at home watching the Isotopes, before finally deciding to move on the suspicions he had about the check he received. The music choice for the warehouse bit was also excellent, as was the rest of the episode in that respect. Gilligan's aural cues continue to be a distinct element of his productions and I'm glad that he's not abandoned that trait.
So, this is it. We're in the home stretch of the transformation into the "real pipe-hittin' member of the tribe." Even with the recent and coming deluge of things to watch (Orange is the New Black, second season of Ozark on the 31st, Liverpool, Michigan), I'll still take time to sit down on Monday nights and endure commercials just to see the final pre-chapter of Breaking Bad roll out.