Thursday, February 12, 2015

There's a Law

Reading about King Saul in the bible a few days ago, I remembered there was a spin-off of Breaking Bad that premièred recently called Better Call Saul. So I watched it, the first two episodes which aired on successive nights, for some reason. It's good, though it's hard to judge how enjoyable it would be for someone who hasn't seen Breaking Bad. Well, no, actually I think most of it stands on its own--the story of Saul, who is called Jimmy as the show begins, looks somewhat similar to Walter White's fall from grace. Except, we learn Jimmy was a scam artist when he was a kid but as an adult is trying to turn himself around with a law practice on the straight and narrow.

The problem for Jimmy is that the fellows we've been taught to see as legitimate turn out to be flawed as him. My favourite scene of the first two episodes is a confrontation between Jimmy and his brother, Chuck, played by Michael McKean, who is being slowly pushed out of his high profile firm due to some kind of mental illness that causes him to believe he has a fatal sensitivity to electricity.

Jimmy is trying to convince his brother to "cash out" and take the over a million dollars the firm owes him instead of being paid off by a steady stream of paychecks while he nurses the delusion of returning to the firm at some point. Within this one exchange, Jimmy's conscience hanging by a thread is wonderfully apparent as the brother he's looked up to as a moral authority is not being helped by his morality and the legal system Jimmy holds dear permits the ways in which Chuck is being abused.

I thought Bob Odenkirk did a good job as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad but I didn't think he was ready to carry a series as the lead. I've changed my mind, I daresay he's improved.

The second episode was much weaker though its weakness began with the cliffhanger of the first episode which rested almost entirely on a glimpse of a character from Breaking Bad. The one moment somewhat deflated the momentum of the show and I hope it won't lean much on surprise glimpses of Breaking Bad characters in the future.

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