Martin Carr reviews the seventh episode of Better Call Saul season 2…
What I like about Better Call Saul is the pace. That feeling which implies there is no rush and ultimately this programme is all about the long game. Because if you notice not a lot really happens here, although things do happen eventually. Breaking Bad felt exactly the same and just pottered along at a seemingly sedate pace, never feeling particularly urgent. Which means that when something dramatic does happen in Saul the impact is similar.
Amongst the flashbacks, loud suits and carefully calculated waffle which pours from McGill, there is an inherent charm which Odenkirk maintains. Here more than anywhere else things feel realistic even when the situation is exaggerated. Meaning that even the serious moments slot in perfectly due primarily to some laid back performances. Jonathan Bank’s Mike is laconic to the point of being horizontal which is deceptive, bearing in mind his involvement on this occasion is minimal.
Elsewhere this episode lives and dies on the chemistry between Kim and Jimmy as it does most weeks. You get the impression that for Vince Gilligan it is more about the journey than anything else. And that sense of familiarity which comes from Saul has more to do with the relaxed structure, than any nostalgia concerning its predecessor. What Odenkirk does more and more is make the audience feel like they are watching something honest, whether playing bagpipes, blocking toilets or making smoothies.
Much like many people who feel trapped within a system they can neither control nor work within. Jimmy is the ‘everyman’ neither hunter nor hunted, but somehow in a position left mediating between the two. Perpetually on the verge of bankruptcy or millimetres away from that one big win, it’s a skill Odenkirk has honed over many years in the shadow of others.
Better Call Saul joins the rarefied company of other dramatic heavy hitters, who possess an ability to allow audiences freedom. By which I mean the freedom to dip in and out without losing track. For those who want to follow McGill and company the option is there, but Saul is so well done that occasional visits are actively encouraged. Whether Jimmy is breaking out on his own, or Mike is just spending time with his daughter, Saul continues to intrigue and draw you in. For a programme where not a lot happens very often this is one hell of a trick to pull off. But nonetheless one I intend to keep doing from now on; whether I need to or not.