Tuesday, August 07, 2018

The Return of Saul

Last night's première of Better Call Saul's fourth season was a lot like the third season première--not a lot of dialogue, not a lot of plot, just the feeling of a stage being set. Sometimes I like this deliberate slow down, sometimes it does feel stretched a bit too thin.

Spoilers after the screenshot

Once again I feel like the makers of the show overestimate how interesting Mike (Jonathan Banks) is. In this episode we see that Mike quits his job at a toll booth, plays with his granddaughter while she gardens, gets a cheque from Madrigal, then goes in and infiltrates their front company like he really is a security consultant. And that's it. I like the idea of a procedural and I like what it says about Mike's worth ethic that he just can't sit still with the ten grand--he's more comfortable doing the job. But I don't know that we needed to see Mike slowly leaving the toll booth for the last time, giving up his windbreaker--I don't know that we needed to spend so much time watching Mike prowling the offices with a clipboard.

Maybe I'm a hypocrite for loving all the slow burn stuff on the new season of Twin Peaks but it seemed like Lynch's silent spaces are so much fuller. Even the long sequence of the guy sweeping the floor at the Roadhouse. Oddly the fact that it was essentially pointless makes it seem like it had more of a point to it than Mike going through the trash in the warehouse.

The scenes with Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) were better. That opening sequence set in the present day did a great job playing with suspense, showing just how precarious his life is now. He may be wearing a big moustache but he used to be on TV--running into anyone from Albuquerque has a chance of blowing his cover. So that long stare from the cab driver was filled with tension.

I'm a little worried the show won't pick up the slack in the absence of Chuck, though. The drama between the McGill brothers was amazing and vastly overshadowed everything else in the previous seasons. They're almost going to have to start from scratch. But I did think the final scene was great where Howard (Patrick Fabian) revealed he does have a conscience and breaks down over what he did to Chuck. Jimmy, completely callous, letting him keep that guilt, is both completely nasty and completely understandable after all he's been through on top of his brother's death knocking him off balance. So I do think the writers could be on to something.

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