Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Name of Saul

No, you can't go back to Jimmy McGill because this is now a show about Saul Goodman. Sunday night saw the fifth season premiere of Better Call Saul and Bob Odenkirk's protagonist getting his name officially changed. As he explains it to Kim, he sees it as a fresh start but she clearly worries it's a sign he's giving in to his worst instincts. Written by series co-creator Peter Gould, it's a good start to a season that promises to bring an illuminating clash between Saul and Kim.

In fact, the season episode titles paint a pretty clear arc already:

No Gennifer Hutchison episodes this season? Unless she wrote one of those TBA episodes. I hope so, she was my favourite writer on the show.

Kim (Rhea Seehorn) is having to work a little harder not to see the Saul in Jimmy. Though we have seen her, in seasons past, getting turned on by his conman antics and even participating a little. She reluctantly even takes his suggestion when dealing with a client in this episode but she really doesn't seem to like it.

It's nice to see the return of the gaudy suits.

Like every season premiere of the series this one began with a lengthy flashforoward to Saul in hiding, now as Gene, the manager of a Cinnebon. This time there was a pleasant surprise cameo from Robert Forster who apparently shot his scene while working on El Camino.

Saul has to call him because someone recognised him from his Albuquerque days. And I loved how that went down. Some might mistake it for bad writing that the guy manages to coax Gene into admitting he's Saul. It seems like Saul would be too smart to ever think he would have to give in. But intelligence wasn't in play here. It was the need to be recognised as who he was, the identity that he establishes in the same episode, years earlier. It's not intellectual, it's pure, maybe unstoppable, emotional need. It's another layer to his tragedy.

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