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Season 5 of 'Better Call Saul' Has Arrived as Strong as Ever
February 23, 2020  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
 


Season 5 finds the Better Call Saul train gathering speed as it rolls toward Breaking Bad.

Better Call Saul resumes Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on AMC, and it has two more seasons to fully explain how a low-rent scam artist named Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk, top) became the high-stakes crooked lawyer who played a pivotal role in the drug empire that Walter White (Bryan Cranston) built in Breaking Bad.

We haven't seen Walter White in Better Call Saul, because none of it is about him. It's about the incremental rise of Jimmy, sometimes by street-smart calculation, sometimes by outright deception, and sometimes by sheer dumb luck.

As Season 5 begins, Jimmy has made a watershed calculation. He will no longer be Jimmy McGill, bored small-time screw-up. He will become Saul Goodman, "The Magic Man," the go-to lawyer for lowlifes.

No town will ever run out of lowlifes, right?

We know that down the line, this will take him from defending nickel-bag pot dealers to providing legal cover for Walter White's far more serious sins.

At the moment, though, he still sees himself as just a hustler, working the angles. The fact a couple of those angles led to the suicide of his smarter and more ethical brother, Chuck, bothers him, but not a lot.

Jimmy/Saul can rationalize pretty much anything as what he had to do at the time.

His law partner/girlfriend, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), has some of that same skill. She's been more conflicted, however, and her concern seems to escalate as we move into Season 5.

Kim has been the show's most elusive character since the beginning, in many ways, and watching her weigh her own principles on Jimmy/Saul's scale has been a fascinating process.

It also may encapsulate the central moral question of Better Call Saul: What price do we pay for what we think we get away with?

We have some sense of what price Saul will pay, though scenes in the first episode of the new season suggest we might not want to assume he will live out his days as manager of the Cinnabon in a mall in Omaha.

What we don't know, however, and what seems, easily, the show's most interesting unanswered question, is what price Kim will pay – or, absent a moral price tag, what will be her physical fate.

Unlike dozens of other characters we see in Better Call Saul, Kim doesn't make it to Breaking Bad.

Is she dead? Does she escape? Whatever happens, Better Call Saul's aftertaste will depend heavily on how we feel about what happens to or with Kim.

In other business, Season 5 does not neglect the increasingly dark doings with Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) as he moves to wrest control of the drug game from the Salamanca family, now fronted primarily by Lalo (Tony Dalton).

Part of Gus' plan, the underground dream lab where one day Walter White and Jesse Pinkman will cook the country's best meth, is taking shape under the supervision of ex-cop Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks).

As this season begins, Mike and Gus are disagreeing over how Gus handled a personnel matter, reflecting the fact Mike has a few moral concerns, albeit selective.

Better Call Saul still occasionally punctuates the serious criminal doings with good fun, often cashing in on Odenkirk's skill at deadpan humor.

But with next season already on the books as its last, the train is steaming toward the station, and the ride seems unlikely to get smoother.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Zeke
Did I understand, back in Breaking Bad, the Saul character created by Odenkirk was so good that the showrunners/Writers decided it could not be a one-off appearance?
That is how we got extended story? Odenkirk's (and writers) talent?
Mar 1, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
 
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