Review: Better Call Saul – 1.4 – ‘Hero’

I’m detecting a trend in my own, and I hate it when I start them. Last week’s ‘Nacho’ had moments of unadulterated Saul Goodness in an otherwise static episode. It dawns on me that this is the problem with the prequel aspects of the show: Breaking Bad grew on you. It got better and darker and by the time we got to full bastard-Heisenberg it felt like the trek up the mountain was worth the while.

‘Hero’ confirms that we’ve cheated ourselves out of the journey. We know what Saul is going to be, and there’s only so many permutations of controversy and risk that he can have before it has a knock-on effect to the parent show’s story.

Of ‘Hero’ – it’s good, but it’s close to the line. Collective glee was felt when we heard some pre-flashback Jimmy McGill give a half-assed explanation as to his much-earlier-than-thought future pseudonym. It was, like the scene itself, a bit of a ruse but an insightful one as to the character. Yes, we get the point that he was always conning people, but the point has been made. The pre-prequel is as useful as the main storyline itself in that it expands the screen time of the character but can only do so little as we know where it’s all heading, ultimately.

You’ve read me say time and time again that the acting is superb etc. It is. But is that all the show’s worth, is it all good acting? Can it actually evolve into something more than a cog in the Breaking Bad machine?

Yes, that’s a long monologue, but four weeks of viewing with little by way of pay-off makes me think this is either going to be Lost until something ridiculous happens or that it will simply bob along until the first Jesse Pinkman cameo.

Perhaps what signals ‘Hero’ as a good omen was the humour. Better Call Saul has been billed, more by the Internet than by the studio, as a lighter Breaking Bad. Elements so far have been dark as the night, namely the negotiated leg breaking, but all in all it’s been a bit tame. Humour has been missing, and there are moments in ‘Hero’, particularly those involving the billboard, that are hilarious.

Humour. Make me laugh Saul, it’s what you’re good at. Jump it up to level ten and don’t be afraid to be funny, the character is funny and Walter White’s prescient menace should be replaced with Saul not only being sarcastic and hyperactive, but deadpan with a healthy dollop of ironic farce.

Saul’s brother Chuck is a character I’ve neglected as of late. Michael McKean is a gem of understatement, albeit one confined, most noticeably, to a perpetual Möbius strip of time periods. McKean, like Odenkirk, has and hopefully will continue to admirably convey the different stages of his life. There’s a back story here, and both attitude and body language convey changing levels of condescension to his little brother beautifully. It will be interesting to learn the full story.

In any event, the tea leaves are forming for what comes next but a prediction is getting harder. The excitement is there and you can feel fans and newbies alike hoping it can pull off something satisfying.

There remains much to look forward to, not least when McGill finally becomes Saul Goodman. Albuquerque isn’t that big I imagine, and there must have been a mighty fall from grace for Saul to permanently assume the alias, especially after such a loud billboard.

A funny fourth outing, but it needs to get the momentum flowing.

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