In Review of… 2020 (Part Three)
Following on from the films that I enjoyed last year, this week, I beging to take a more detailed look at some of the television shows that kept me entertained during those long Lockdown nights in 2020.
The TV (Episode One)
Better Call Saul (Season 5)
How have we reached the fifth season of this brilliant show already? Back in February, as I tried not to binge on the latest season of the prequel to cult TV show Breaking Bad, it was becoming evident, even by Season 3 and 4, that this show was no cash-in. It wasn’t some spin-off, churned out to garner some ratings, milking the goodwill towards Breaking Bad, and keeping it alive in the minds of its fans.
In its own right, and in the growing minds of many, myself included, Better Call Saul, which focusses on the origins (the rise and fall, and rise) of loveable crooked laywer Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad, is as good as its predecessor. As the prospect of the final season looms (though when it will arrive now, remains to be seen), and the narritive timeline of both shows threaten to collide, I suspect that Better Call Saul may well prove to be even better.
Whilst originally only intended to be in a few episodes, such was the reaction to Saul Goodman, writer Vince Gilligan decided to keep actor Bob Odenkirk on the payroll and keep Walter White’s and Jessie Pinkman’s lawyer around to the very end.
Boy, am I glad he did!
To go back before Breaking Bad with such care, love, devotion and skill, focussing on one of the supporting characters from Breaking Bad, and to create such a wonderful tale, is one of the many real triumphs of Better Call Saul. As the afore mentioned timeline draws near, Season 5 could have teetered on the edge of falling into a fan-serving, nodding and winking prequel to Breaking Bad – sure, there are plenty of moments (and cameos) to get everyone salivating at the prospect, but its the writing and the actors that draw this show up to even greater heights.
If you are still with Better Call Saul, you will know what I am talking about. Many viewers may have turned off after a slow, in the eyes of some, first season – but this show has become better with each season. Knowing what comes in its predecessor, but in the future, makes this all the more poignant, and tragic. If Shakespeare had written one of the two shows, he would have probably chosen to write Better Call Saul. There is something very Shakespearean about it all, and in the final season, it is going to be unimaginable.
Of course, we should first focus on Bob Odenkirk. As always, he is amazing in the lead role, and in Season 5, Saul Goodman, aka Jimmy Mcgill, goes through even more trials and trebulations than in previous seasons. At times this could come across as too much – too much clamity and misfortune for one individual, but his acting is wonderful, and he rises to the challenge of all that comes his way. He is a rogue, but you can’t help but love him and such is the skill of the writing, when I watch Breaking Bad again, it will be hard not to call him Jimmy.
There are so many familiar faces in this season that come and go, helping to bring this show to new levels of greatness. But, above all others, two actors stand out for me, again.
Reprising his role as Mike Ehrmantraut, Jonathan Banks brings with him his usual understated brilliance. As ‘the guy who knows a guy’ – he still remains the coolest grandad on screen, and we get to see even more of him in Better Call Saul than we did in Breaking Bad – and that is no bad thing in anyone’s book, I imagine. Again, knowing where we are headed with Mike, gives even more weight to what we are seeing – it’s what is so great about this show and the jounrey it is taking us on.
And finally, we come to Rhea Seehorn, and her lawyer, Kim Wexler. I cannot begin to describe her journey in Better Call Saul, but if you are still watching it, you will know that, above all others, she is the most interesting, and potentially, the most tragic. She does not appear in Breaking Bad, and I almost do not want to find out what happens to her in the final season, such as I have come to care for her character. Rhea Seehorn, much like Bob Odenkirk, was amazing this season, and as we head towards the finale, we have the bitter-sweet prospect of finding out what is going to happen to her, of how everything is going to tie up. It’s what makes this show, if possible, an even more mouthwatering prospect.
Better Call Saul? Better get ready – if Season 5 is anything to go by, the finale is going to be the bomb, baby.
Better Call Saul (Season Five) Episodes: 10
My rating: 9.5/10
Watched on Netflix
Join me next week for Episode Two of the TV that kept me going through 2020. As always, I would love your thoughts on the above – are you a fan? Did you stop watching? I’d love to hear from you.