Season four of Better Call Saul proves the dictum, “All good things come to those who wait.” Unlike its parent show, Breaking Bad, the descent of the show’s protagonist does not pivot on one act of desperation that creates a rip-roaring wave of corruption that cannot be stopped. Instead, the transition of Jimmy McGill (portrayed amazingly by Bob Odenkirk) into the show’s eponymous sleazeball lawyer is the result of a gradual series of choices that all offer a path towards redemption that is at the last minute neglected. Walter White broke bad in episode one; Jimmy McGill took four seasons.
Although this has left some people crying out, “Why aren’t we there yet?”, Vince Gilligan and co originally intended to get to this point in around two seasons and had to actually undo some of their earlier work to delay the arrival of Saul Goodman – such cries of despair miss the whole point of the show; the journey more important than the destination. The twisting of the show’s central relationship between the scheming Jimmy and overworked Kim, Jimmy coming to terms with Chuck’s departure and Mike’s precise contribution to Gustavo Fring’s plans for the meth-king throne, are handled with a deft touch. It is a slow burn that is as mesmerizingly rich and ensnaring as a fire on a cold winter’s day. We sit and watch as the logs char and then slowly turn to ash.
Despite its willingness to delay what most shows would brush over before an ad break, Better Call Saul is definitely not a show that forgoes the frenetic hijinks that made Breaking Bad the beloved show it is. Be it Jimmy and Kim conning a civil servant or Mike trying to shake a gang leader who is tailing him, this season is full of high concept moments which, all shot in the show’s idiosyncratic style, will have you both on the edge of your seat and laughing out of it.
When it was first announced that the show’s creators would be returning to Breaking Bad‘s drug-addled Albuquerque, for a prequel that would focus on the show’s eccentric side character, many had their doubts. The shadow that Breaking Bad casts is a long one, but it appears that Better Call Saul may be close to surpassing it. All they have to do is stick the landing in season five. If they do s’all will be good, man.