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03/07/2020 The Communication Science magazine

At Last, The Prequel Must End

Jorrit writes about Better Call Saul and tells you what he thinks of this so called ‘Breaking Bad’ spin-off.


Originally dubbed as ‘just a Breaking Bad-spinoff’, Better call Saul has earned the right to stay. However, every week we are coming closer to the end. This Tuesday, Netflix is airing the last episode of the current season. With only one season left, the saga prepares for the final series.

With a finished show and even a movie, the Breaking Bad-series can already be regarded as one of the biggest entertainment-franchises of the 21st century. But arguably the best piece of the chain must still come to an end: Better call Saul, evolving around the shady, attention-needy lawyer Jimmy McGill, kicked off five years and is more popular than ever. The AMC-production now faces their last but hardest task: provide a fitting end and connect the storylines of Better call Saul and Breaking Bad. This season has already provided an outline of how this link will be made.

Familiar Faces
Though the show is officially a stand-alone, fans have seen reoccurring performances from the antiheroes featured in Breaking Bad. Next to an all too familiar lawyer, ‘Nacho’ Varga, Kim Wrexler, Mike Ehmantraut and a wide variety of gangsters should all ring a bell to many. But though the shows share the same universe, Better call Saul has proven that it does not need the former show to become just as good, if not better.

While the beginning seasons focus on one hand on the struggling career of Jimmy McGill in advocacy and on the Albuquerque’s cocaine trafficking on the other, as the show progresses it becomes evidently clear the greedy Jimmy is all too interested in the quick way to money the cartel can offer. Along with a change of heart and becoming an independent lawyer as well as changing his name to Saul Goodman, he is just as quick into becoming immersed as a representative of drug dealing criminals. In a little matter of time, he becomes the legal voice of the cartel.

So Ordinary, Yet So Unusual
This, inevitably, creates the drama that brings Better call Saul to great heights. Only sporadically does the show become nerve-wracking tense, yet the audience find themselves on the tip of their seat almost constantly. The casting, setting and background acting is representing a normal life almost perfect, but it isare the odd circumstances Jimmy keeps on finding himself in that make the show distant and intriguing as well. In just a few episodes, we see Jimmy practicing law just as much as forging documents, vandalising properties and shooting commercials, all while not staying out of trouble with the cartel, his wife or in court.

The current season, the show upped the pace. While the cartels are going to war and with Nacho acting a double spy, Jimmy’s storyline becomes fully immersed with the drug-affiliates. Not only does he represent the new leader, Lalo Salamanca, in court but after a rocky start he and Mike Ehrmantraut have little options to work together on the other side. Ehrmantraut, whom many remember as the corrupt agent that has gone rogue in Breaking Bad, is in need of various services: next to his own run-ins with the law, he also acts as a spy regarding Albuquerque’s cocaine war.

Only sporadically does the show become nerve wrecking tense, yet the audience find themselves on the tip of their seat almost constantly

Three Is A Party
Starting off with a leisurely pace, focusing much on background information of the main characters, it is now all coming together. A great part of this is the introduction of a third main character in the show: Kim Wrexler. She, too, is a lawyer but more important the naive fiancé of Jimmy. While she is a critically acclaimed lawyer working for many big companies on her own cases, she also finds herself being held back by her love for her husband. Naturally, while Jimmy is dreaming and trying of one day having a case that can match her resumé, Kim is happy to see Jimmy succeed in the lower tiers of advocacy. In his greed to catch up with this deficit, he always seems to tipple on two thoughts: go down the dangerous but fast route of representing criminals in court or never fulfilling his potential in order to live an easy, unremarkable life with his long-time girlfriend.

The last three episodes are building up to that one final climax: stuck in the desert for days after having to pick up bail for Salamanca somehow finding himself together with not-so-friendly Mike Ehrmantraut, it is only then the viewer gets a glimpse of the colliding Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad universes. Is this not the famous desert that is one of the key locations in the latter show? Are these props not also used in Breaking Bad as well? Now, every attribute in both shows has a story, a history that represents two different worlds existing side-by-side. The transition is smooth and the explanations are clear, yet never out of character. But before everything becomes intertwined and viewers can say their goodbyes to the whole saga, there is the final episode of tomorrow and the last season to end with. A hard, but almost perfect end to thirteen years of top-notch entertainment.

 

Cover: Pexels

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