Friday, April 10, 2015

Saul Called

The first season of Better Call Saul is over, and it was both entertaining and unnecessary.  It featured plenty of the style that Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould brought us in Breaking Bad, but did we need it?

Saul was the shyster on BB, and he provided the show with much comic relief, as well as being an interesting character in his own right. Giving him a series didn't seem like a bad idea, especially if they staked out new territory.  It would have made for a fine comedy, with Saul getting new, bizarre clients each week, finding tricky ways to get them out of their situations.  This would have been even easier to do if Gilligan hadn't decided to pointlessly bring down Saul Goodman in BB--I still don't get why he had to go underground.

But that type of show is not Gilligan's style.  He likes origin stories. Breaking Bad was pitched as the story of Walter White going from Mr. Chips to Scarface.  So it figures Gilligan would go back in time to show us how Jimmy McGill got to be Saul Goodman.

But why should we care?  When I see a fully-formed character, I'm not concerned with where he came from.  Saul was great from the start, and how he got that way was a riddle that didn't need to be solved.  I just accept such characters and enjoy them.  Maybe I'll fill in the gaps a bit with my imagination, and I'll often be disappointed when the creator of the show gives his own opinion which doesn't agree with mine.

In fact, some of my least favorite stuff in BB was Gus's past.  He started as a mysterious man, soon revealed to be a brilliant and cold-blooded villain. What more did we need?  Certainly not the "reasons" he is what he is--mystery is better the whining about past slights and pat psychological explanations for present-day activity.

So I'll keep watching as Saul travels toward his predestined appointment.  There's still some mystery as to what will happen to those close to him, and maybe we'll even get lucky and get some stories from Saul's future where we don't know what will happen. But for now, Better Caul Saul is just filling in something I was already satisfied with.

On the other hand, I could stand more of Mike.  He's already fully formed.  Sure, there was a bit to explain about his troubles back East, hinted at in Breaking Bad, but he's still the same badass from that show.  Just as I'd enjoy weekly doses of fast-talking Saul on new cases, so do I like more tales of Mike's badassery.


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