Better Call Saul (Sony, 2022) on AMC+
Better Call Saul largely came into being due to the popularity of the Saul Goodman character on Breaking Bad, played by Bob Odenkirk – who suspected that due to the nature of that show, Saul’s popularity with fans was largely due to the way he did his job incredibly well – finding legal loopholes the way naturalists discover new butterflies and because he’s the least hypocritical character on a show whose protagonist, Walter White, is actually the villain of the story.
The prequel tells a story not all that different from Breaking Bad, in which Jimmy McGill, whose admiration for his older brother drives him towards the legal profession, becomes an opportunistic ambulance chaser who gladly defends the most dangerous people in Albuquerque using questionable means – so long as they pay. As the show progresses, we watch his means of defense stretch further beyond the legal boundaries – to the degree where he protects the most dangerous drug lord in the Southwest from the court by misrepresenting Lalo’s identity in order to secure his bail from prison.
This is the stroke that makes him a legend across the state with clientele traveling far and wide for his representation – but also the final straw that alienates him from just about all of his old colleagues at the courthouse who know he lied to a judge and put people in danger from the cartel. It’s also a risky move as his battle against his brother’s old partner Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) rages on, and ultimately, his dealing with Lalo is the mistake that follows him home.
After the vicious takedown of Chuck McGill in the show’s third season, there was very little that could stand in Jimmy’s way – making his transformation into Saul Goodman inevitable. As crazy as he sounded at Jimmy’s hearing with the Bar Association, he was also inevitably right about everything. Howard may have been one of the few people who believed Chuck, but even he didn’t realize what he was getting himself into – facing not only the wrath of Saul Goodman but also of Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) who’s directly responsible for the latest plot against Howard going forward.
Just when he thinks he’s on the cusp of resolving the lawsuit that has put his company on the map while also taking down Jimmy, things go horribly wrong. Not only do they go horribly wrong, but they also get even worse once Howard catches up to the plot against him all the way, and Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr.), who has taken up his largest role since the season began. Even finally “breaking bad” for Howard couldn’t save him, as he realizes too late that he hired a private investigator that Jimmy compromised.
The legal world that Jimmy once navigated so well has all but crumbled by the end of the episode with Howard’s sudden demise – and we have yet to wonder whether or not Kim may be on her way out too – as the story finds the two of them standing alone – surrounded by someone who’s just as ruthless a criminal as Saul Goodman is a lawyer. This is a point of no return if ever there was.