Better Call Saul S3 E1 review

“If you want to make more money, and keep the money that you make, Better Call Saul!”

With that line, from season 2 of Breaking Bad, we were introduced to perhaps the most intriguing character from that show, Saul Goodman. Now in the 3rd season of his own spin-off, also titled Better Call Saul, Saul, or Jimmy McGill as he is known in the spin-off, is still managing to be as intriguing, interesting and fascinating characters on TV at the moment.

Season 3’s first episode, entitled Mabel, picks up where season 2 left off, with Jimmy’s brother, Chuck, has recorded Jimmy admitting to a felony. Despite this episode indicating that Chuck’s recording would not stand up in a court of law, it’s fair to say that storyline will likely bubble away under the surface for the rest of the season, especially after Chuck instigated a way for Ernesto to ‘accidentally’ hear part of the recording. This certainly ties back into the growing hostilities between Jimmy and Chuck, which is also likely to affect the rest of this season, especially after had something of a reconciliation during the episode, only for it to be shot down by Chuck.

Elsewhere, Jimmy’s attempts to launch a firm with his love interest Kim Wexler are hitting bumpy ground. Kim’s lack of confidence and seeming lowered ability to cope with the expectations of running her own firm, even in spite of her stellar work on the big case she’s been working on, is sure to be an intriguing plot thread to follow, while Jimmy’s arguments with Bauer, the US Air Force captain who allowed Jimmy to film an advert on a US base over false pretences, came to a head when Bauer warns Jimmy that “the wheel is going to turn. It always does.” An omen of things to come for Jimmy, perhaps. Jimmy’s plans throughout the series have always been close to blowing up in his face and causing severe repercussions for him. With each passing day, it seems more and more likely that sooner rather than later everything that Jimmy has built is going to come crashing down.

Elsewhere, Mike’s storyline took an interesting turn. At the end of season 2, where he was about to take out Hector Salamanca before an intervention by an unknown source prevented him from doing so. Instead of focussing on the aftermath of that incident, this episode instead looks at Mike discovering a tracking device in his vehicle and using that knowledge to switch up the tracking devices to allow him to track the people tracking him. While many of the shots used in the scenes with Mike were extraordinarily good looking, as Better Call Saul continues to hold onto its crown of the TV series with the best cinematography, it’s never really adequately explained why exactly Mike is doing what he is doing, which is a plot thread that needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.

One last thing of note is the conspicuous absence of Gus Fring, an antagonist from Breaking Bad who’s been heavily hinted at appearing in Better Call Saul. Fring is also assumed to be the unknown source that intervened during Mike’s assassination attempt on Hector, so for them to abandon that storyline almost entirely for the first episode is telling in itself, and Fring’s expected introduction into Better Call Saul will have to wait for another day.

Overall, though, this episode does a great job of setting up the conflicts and storylines that season 3 is going to heavily deal with. From Jimmy’s head towards collapse, to his deteriorating relationship with Chuck, it’s clear that this season of Better Call Saul is going to definitely up the stakes in showing how Jimmy McGill became Saul Goodman. And maybe, just maybe, season 3 can finally allow Better Call Saul to eclipse Breaking Bad and emerge from its shadow.

Image credit: Indie Wire

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