+ Recommended – TV-MA, Drama, Crime ( 10 episodes, 46 minutes)
It’s all good, man. Season 4 premiered back at the beginning of August and I must say, it feels like it shouldn’t be over just yet. After a long gap between Season 3 and Season 4, I was practically begging for more episodes and this hasn’t changed, even after the last episode of the season; it’s one of the few shows that I don’t want to miss a single, fleeting moment of. I cannot recommend Better Call Saul enough to anyone, and yet many of the people I am closest to haven’t even seen a single episode; but you totally should.
[WARNING: THIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FROM PREVIOUS SEASONS AND FROM SEASON 4]
That’s not to shame them or you, although they are missing some of television’s best content that it has to offer. Unlike many other shows, particularly ones on streaming services, Better Call Saul takes time to delve into a deeper character study. Not just with the main protagonist, but with almost each supporting character. Each have their own arcs and problems they face within the greater story, and series writers Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan ensure that these diverging stories eventually cross paths again, whether that be in a later season or a later episode.
After Chuck is revealed to be dead from Season 3’s finale, “Lantern,” in which Chuck (Michael McKean) kicked over a lantern, setting himself and his house ablaze, Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) struggles to find his sense of self in the aftermath. For so long, Jimmy has idolized his brother, even through all the conflict and disagreements, but one thing is for sure: the two loved each other in their own way. Early on in the current season, he reads a letter that Chuck wrote for him. During the scene, Kim (Rhea Seehorn) gets very emotional, breaking down over the situation in front of Jimmy and the audience, while Jimmy reads the letter with a monotone voice and blank expression. The Season 4 finale, “Winner,” has Jimmy fighting for the reinstatement of his law license. He reads the letter again, only this time he becomes deeply emotional. Kim believes that he’s finally being vulnerable and letting people see his emotions, even I believed that he was suddenly sharing raw feelings. After the hearing, it’s revealed that Jimmy was playing the game all along, showing Kim that he can basically cry on command.
I feel like this moment encompassed the entire season. Jimmy doesn’t mourn for Chuck in the way we traditionally view grief, but I believe he does internally; it’s most likely suppressed. Kim isn’t mourning for Chuck, either. Throughout the ten episodes of intense emotion from actress Rhea Seehorn, it becomes clear in the finale that she’s not been crying for Chuck, but rather for Jimmy’s apathy towards the death of his brother. This stuck a major cord with me, because Kim wants Jimmy to succeed but she’s been watching his downward spiral and simply can’t do anything about it. In the final moments, after an arousing speech to the committee, Jimmy appears to get his license reinstated and asks for a specific form, one in which he will need to have in order to practice law under a different name. “It’s all good, man.” You know the name: Saul Goodman.
Better Call Saul is a prime example of how to write three different main protagonists. There’s, of course, Jimmy, but then, almost equally important, Mike and Nacho. Mike works closely with Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) in constructing the chemistry lab we eventually see in completed form during Breaking Bad, and Nacho is trying to find a way out of the Salamanca drug trade. These narratives are just as important as Jimmy’s to the overall prequel aspect of Saul in relation to Breaking Bad; we are actively following the events leading up to one of the greatest shows in the history of television. All of the puzzle pieces must fit into place. And they are forming, slowly. By the end of Season 5, I’m nearly certain we will be waiting at the gates of Breaking Bad, if not completely inside.
Everything wraps up nicely, although there is a pseudo cliffhanger attached to the end of “Winner.” Not that it’s really a cliffhanger, but rather a tease for Season 5 when it premieres. The varying angles and the corky style of the camera work, perfectly encompassed during the opening title sequence, remains constant throughout the ten episode run and very competent. Even if it seems like a few moments are insignificant to the story, the writing team has proved time and time again that nothing in Better Call Saul is insignificant: take the Hummel figurine for instance (you’ll know what I’m talking about if you watch). Give this show all the love, please, because boy does it deserve credit.