Better Call Saul: The Greatest TV Show I've Ever Seen
Updated: Aug 30
Better Call Saul is the best TV show I've ever seen. It's a rare case these days. My dad and I would watch a new episode every Monday night on AMC. It's sad to say that episodic weekly episodes are a thing of the past. To me, it felt like a last hooray for the old ways of watching TV in this new streaming era. That aside, Better Call Saul is on that high rise mountain along side it's companion; Breaking Bad.
What impresses me the most of Better Call Saul is the fact that they took Saul Goodman, the comedic side character with zero emotional depth from Breaking Bad, and turned him into one of the most tragic TV characters of all time. How the hell is that possible? I'll tell you. It's the goddamn writers. Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, and crew are masters of their craft.
This show is also beautifully shot and directed... no surprise there!
SPOILERS FOR BETTER CALL SAUL
Also I apologize for using the word tragic frequently throughout this piece. It really is the perfect word to describe this show and the characters.
Better Call Saul is a prequel. Once that word is thrown around, most people are turned off from the idea. On paper, a prequel to Breaking Bad, one of the most popular shows of all time, sounds like a cash grab awful idea. AMC giving Gilligan money to do more. They easily could've half assed it but they didn't. Gilligan and crew, once again, delivered one of the most compelling dramas ever! That's insane! We know the aftermath of most of these characters yet the way we get there is absolutely thrilling. That's that's hard thing to accomplish and this show does it in spades!
According to IMDb, the show is defined as: Six years before he begins to represent Albuquerque's most notorious criminal, Goodman is Jimmy McGill, a small-time attorney hustling to make a name for himself. He's a forceful champion for his low-income clients, an underdog whose morals and ambitions often clash. Jimmy works with private eye Mike Ehrmantraut, a former Philadelphia cop and recent transplant to the Southwest. Mike has a specialized skill set -- he's a "fixer" of sticky situations -- that Jimmy soon learns to appreciate.
What we get is two storylines: Jimmy McGilll and the lawyer side of the story and Mike Ehrmantraut and the criminal/cartel side of the story. For 95% of the show, both storylines aren't connected. We cut between the two so, in my opinion, the show always feels fresh and unique. I don't have a preference on which storyline is better. I like them both equally because they are fantastic in their own way.
One thing I love about this show are the characters. The main cast are so much fun to watch. In Breaking Bad, my favorite characters were Saul, Mike, and Gus, and in this show they are the main focus. Not only that but the new additions: Kim Wexler, Howard Hamlin, Nacho Varga, Lalo Salamanca, and Chuck McGill are all fantastic as well. There's not one bad (poorly written / acted) character in this show.
Jimmy McGill / Saul Goodman / Gene Takovic…. What a character. He is Jimmy McGill but becomes Saul Goodman due to the events from this show. His slow decent into the sleazy attorney is one of the most fascinating character studies I've ever seen. It's funny how we wait 6 whole seasons to see Saul Goodman because we love the character so much in Breaking Bad, but when he finally does turn, it's beyond tragic. It's absolutely genius. Bob Odenkirk is phenomenal as McGill. He fully embraces each personality perfectly. He deserves all the awards. Jimmy McGill / Saul Goodman is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time!
Mike Ehrmantraut, played by Jonathan Banks, is the heart and soul of this show. His journey is also tragic. We know how his story ends in Breaking Bad but his journey in this show adds so much depth. We understand why he does what he does. He gets his own episode in season 1 that explores his past and it's one of my favorite episodes of the show. The way he feels he's responsible for his son's death is beyond sad. The way Mike meets Gus and ends up becoming the ruthless killer he is in Breaking Bad is tough to watch. Like Jimmy, he also is a tragic character.
Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler has to be one of the greatest characters and performances of all time. Kim is Jimmy's love. She is one of the main focuses on the show. She is mysterious but tough. Her love for Jimmy and the con is fascinating. I love her character arc. She starts off as a caring and law abiding attorney who slowly transforms into a con woman who ends up getting Howard Hamlin killed. It's thrilling yet very tragic. I love the way she confesses at the end of her story and cries with remorse on a public bus. Kim is by far one of the best characters in this universe. Rhea Seehorn deserves all the praise.
Patrick Fabian as Howard Hamlin is an interesting addition. At first, Howard comes off as the main antagonist. He's a prick who foils Jimmy's wishes in season 1. However, the show throws an interesting curve ball with Chuck McGill, Jimmy's older brother, as the main antagonist. Howard then becomes likable. His spot on the show is interesting until the final season. His fate was unknown in my mind. I had ZERO idea what would actually happen to him. His death by the hands of Lalo Salamanca remains the most shocking moment of television I've ever experienced. He didn't deserve that at all. Howard was the morally responsible character in the whole show. He didn't have a bad bone in his body yet he is murdered in cold blood. It's tragic.
Nacho Varga is the underdog of this show. I really enjoyed the focus of this character. He's a cartel member who slowly gets to the top but at the same time closer to his demise.
Watching his journey is tragic as well. His character causes a lot of things we see in Breaking Bad. Most importantly, putting Hector Salamanca in the wheel chair by switching his medications for sugar pills. That scene is intense by the way. His relationship with his law abiding dad is very well done. Their last phone call together is heartbreaking. Nacho's sacrifice is one of the best scenes in the show. I love how he tells off the Salamancas and takes control of his own destiny. What a character. Michael Mando deserves all the credit.
Lalo Salamanca might be my favorite villain in the Breaking Bad / Better Call Universe. He comes in late and I mean late in the show but leaves such an impression. He’s charismatic as hell but is evil as any Salamanca in these shows. Tony Dalton just melts into the role and kills it. I love how the show incorporated that small line from Breaking Bad where Saul says “It wasn’t me it was Ignacio!” Into this fully fleshed out dramatic story. Goddamn what a show and what a character.
Chuck McGill might be my favorite villain of this show. Michael McKean absolutely nails the part. Chuck is the spiteful brother of Jimmy. Chuck busted his ass to become the best version of himself but his younger slipping brother slides into becoming a lawyer like it’s nothing. I love the brother dynamic in this show. It really makes seasons 1-3 so enticing. McKean portrays a man who’s “allergic to electricity” with such ease. His big monologue in one of the best episodes Chicanery is one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. Chuck is an asshole but he isn’t wrong for how he feels. He is completely justified. That makes him an awesome character.
Now like my Breaking Bad piece, I will go through each season and give my overall thoughts and list my favorite episodes.
The one that started it all. I remember watching through the 1st season and instantly being captivated by the story. It’s funny yet dramatic. I like the focus on the Kettlemans and how each main character is involved, even Mike. The reveal that Chuck is secretly behind Jimmy’s undoing is so damn good. Howard can be a little cartoonish but it’s okay. It’s so interesting watching season 1 over and seeing how it all started. I love it and I think it’s one of the best seasons of television.
My favorite episode of season 1 is Five-O.
Now this is my least favorite season of the show. I’m not saying it’s bad, I just prefer the other seasons over this one. I guess my main issue is Jimmy’s storyline is more or less the same as season 1. Mike’s storyline with Nacho is very interesting. I like how Mike gets involved in the criminal underworld. The last three episodes of the season get intense, especially with Jimmy and Chuck’s feud. I love the scene where Jimmy switches the numbers to fuck over Chuck. Awesome scene.
My favorite episode of season 2 is Nailed.
This season is some of the best I’ve ever seen. There is not a dull moment. Every second is well spent. I cannot praise this season enough. We see how Mike gets involved with Gus and it’s fucking awesome. They share a scene together that became my favorite Gus scenes of all time. It’s so damn good. Chicanery is one of the best episodes of TV I’ve ever seen. I’ll get right to it, the courtroom face off between Jimmy and Chuck is phenomenal. I remember watching it live with my dad and being utterly shocked by the outcome. Chuck killing himself was so surprising and heartbreaking. The whole season is just perfect in every way.
My favorite episode of season 3 is Chicanery.
Like season 2, this is one of my least favorite seasons. Mostly due to the fact that Jimmy’s storyline is not that interesting. Mike though, has an incredible storyline. The fact that he has to kill someone he cares for is so tragic.
My favorite episode of season 4 is Winner
Season 5 is when we start getting payoffs for the beautiful set ups from the first four seasons. Jimmy is now Saul. He is practicing under the name Saul Goodman. His storyline involving Lalo is damn good. Saul goes through a lot in this season, especially in Bagman, and it's thrilling. Kim gets involved and she has an amazing moment in Bad Choice Road where she tells Lalo off. That scene is a highlight of the show. Mike's storyline isn't as interesting unfortunately. Nacho's storyline gets more and more intense as the episodes go on.
My favorite episode of season 5 is Bad Choice Road.
The first seven episodes of this season is by far the best run of episodes ever. Especially when it gets to Plan and Execution, Point and Shoot, and Fun and Games. Those three episodes can easily be a film. I had no idea where this season would go but I never suspected: Nacho being killed so early on, Howard's demise, Lalo's demise by the hand of Gus, and the finale. So many thrilling and insane moments happen in this season. It's interesting how the show changes once all the Better Call Saul storylines complete. Kim leaving Jimmy then the show cutting to Saul Goodman in the Breaking Bad universe was phenomenal to see. The finale is perfect. I love everything about it.
My favorite episode of season 6 is Fun and Games.
My ranking of each season from favorite to least favorite:
My Top 10 Favorite Episodes:
Fun and Games
Point and Shoot
Plan and Execution
Bad Choice Road
Rock and a Hard Place
This show means a lot to me because of one reason and that's because of my dad. I showed him Breaking Bad and he loved it. He loved the character of Saul Goodman too and when he heard about this show, this was around season 2, he wanted to watch it with me. We've watched this show together live every Monday at 9pm for 7 years. We looked forward to watching this show together and we are happy we got to bond over this incredible show.
There will be nothing like Better Call Saul ever again. It's by far the best TV show I've ever seen.