Martin Carr reviews the tenth episode of Better Call Saul season 2…
For season finales this is a weird one. There is no resolution, there is no big finish, in fact there’s just continuation. That’s not to say there’s no drama, just no big finish. It uses flashback to expand on a deep bond between Chuck and Jimmy which I still have trouble figuring out. McKean and Odenkirk are peas in a pod of that there is no doubt, but the back and forth which constitutes their relationship is never cut and dried.
With a brother who has some sort of psychosis keeping him isolated from others, only to immerge when it suits sets up an interesting dynamic. An under achiever who would rather find ways round things than follow a straight path, compared to an over achieving sibling so advanced he is unable to function. As I have said before Saul is more character piece than anything else. As an audience member it feels increasingly voyeuristic, purely because Saul fails to follow rules. Or if it does so it this very slowly.
There are few comparisons beyond the obvious yet this ceases to matter as these characters draw you in and keep the interest, despite that lack of apparent conflict. Not apparent only because this drama comes from character not situation as you would expect. And what becomes more obvious is just how deep that bond between Odenkirk and McKean goes. Manifesting itself as effortless chemistry in a world where there is no such thing.
Anyone with a passing knowledge of film knows about Michael McKean. Legendary improvisational pioneer who spearheaded Spinal Tap, Best In Show’and A Mighty Wind forget one very simple fact about the man. In order to create these indelible characters you have to be one hell of an actor. By which I mean dramatic actor not comic because there is a very big difference between them. Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, John Candy and Robin Williams to name a few are all actors. True most started on stage or through television in comedy shows, but none would wish to be labelled comedians. Both Murphy and Martin are quiet, introspective deeply thoughtful men in interview preferring to talk than perform. I suspect McKean is similar favouring character studies over comedy foil.
For that reason he is the perfect choice for Odenkirk’s opposite number. Always tending to underplay a scene and add nuance, rather than ham things up for the big finish. Odenkirk is similar if not as well-known, ably supported by Jonathan Banks and Rhea Seahorn in something which still defies definition. But after two seasons it’s abundantly clear that people can do without clarity for certain things; Saul being one of them.