This series has been a case of history repeating itself. When I first started watching Breaking Bad, it was only because everyone had been raving about it. I watched half an episode and then stopped.
People kept raving about it, so I persisted. That time I struggled past the first half of season one and it’s now one of my favourite series. Better Call Saul takes a little more of an investment to get going.
Where Breaking Bad had half a season of not much happening, Better Call Saul doesn’t get going until around episode eight of the first season. Before then it has moments of brilliance, but not enough to drag you back.
Season two is a very different creature. I binge watched the season in a week. The reason is down in large part to Rhea Seehorn and Jonathan Banks. That’s not to say Bob Odenkirk gives a bad performance, he’s perfect. The issue is mostly in his storyline.
Jonathan Banks as Mike has an incredible arc to follow. He’s a principled man caught between his honour and the need to provide for his daughter-in-law and granddaughter. It’s almost a cliche at this stage: the ultimate fighter who’s sworn off violence, but Better Call Saul and Jonathan Banks breathe a whole new, vivid life into the concept.
Rhea Seehorn’s story as Kim is equally as compelling. She’s just as principled, but she can’t help but try to justify the actions of the man she loves, Jimmy/Saul. Her struggles kept me rooting for her throughout the season.
Compared to that, Saul can be a frustrating character to follow. He battles with his brother Chuck, played excellently by Michael McKean. But they’re as bad as one another. Saul is conniving and deceiptful, Chuck is undermining and pompous. It’s difficult to know who to root for in their confrontations.
Mostly I hated Chuck, but it was a very balanced fight. I went back and forth several times. Which is a very realistic way to portray the characters. But I always celebrated a little inside when I saw Mike again.
Overall, I’d highly recommend Better Call Saul. I give it 5/5 stars. If you’ve tried it and didn’t think it was as good as Breaking Bad, I’d recommend trying to finish the first season. Persistence pays off in this case.
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