Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Better Call Saul Season 6, Episode 7, “Plan and Execution”

After several episodes of moving the pieces around the chessboard, “Plan and Execution” finally advances Better Call Saul’s major story beats by concluding Kim and Jimmy’s con of Howard and addressing its fallout. It’s a tremendous conclusion to the first half of this final season, as it not only satisfies various expectations raised over the previous six episodes, but also manages to toss in a few surprises along the way. It’s easily the high point of what has been a fairly slow final season thus far, and hopefully a portent what’s to come as the series moves toward its conclusion after a brief mid-season hiatus. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Better Call Saul Season 6, Episode 6, "Axe and Grind"

Season five’s concluding episode, “Something Unforgiveable,” raised the intriguing question of who bears responsibility for Kim’s newfound capacity for immorality. Throughout the episode Jimmy secretly suspects that he is at fault, that his influence has corrupted her into someone who is comfortable ruining someone else’s life to benefit themselves. Kim, however, pushes back against this notion, stating that she makes her own choices for her own reasons. We’re encouraged to see it both ways: yes, she is her own person, but she has also been influenced by the various stresses Jimmy has placed on her, which seem to have shifted her moral center closer to Jimmy’s more flexible worldview. “Axe and Grind” sheds further light on the question of who bears responsibility for this new-look Kim, lending further credence to the notion that her increasingly flexible morality and risk-inclined behavior is less a product of Jimmy’s influence and more of an innate character trait. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Better Call Saul Season 6, Episode 5, "Black and Blue"

Better Call Saul, like Breaking Bad before it, is often committed to showing the incremental steps between larger events. We see how people go about their business, their working methods and habits, both professional and personal, and how they handle the minute consequences of their actions. It makes sense for these shows to do so, given that at their core they are about how their characters undergo gradual change as they wind down increasingly dark paths. However, sometimes this commitment to showing the incremental steps can lead to relatively slow episodes that exist mainly to move the characters into position for presumably more eventful and captivating episodes later on. Indeed, Better Call Saul usually has lull in the plot around episode four or five each season. Such has been the case in the previous two seasons, for instance, and season six is no different, as “Black and Blue” is largely concerned with laying track for subsequent episodes.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Better Call Saul Season 6, Episode 4, “Hit and Run”

"Hit and Run” is one of those incremental episodes of Better Call Saul, where nothing major happens, but where plots advance bit by inexorable bit. In the hands of a less skilled creative team, it could come across as boring or rote, but in the hands of these writers, and especially in the hands of first-time director Rhea Seehorn, the episode is still incredibly compelling. It helps, of course, that Seehorn directs the hell out of it. “Hit and Run” is full of stylistic flourishes and visual nuance that enlivens the action and enhances the storytelling in various ways.