Wednesday, June 22, 2022

"Better Call Saul," 6.1-6.7: some scattered thoughts

[WARNING: it helps to watch the series so you know what I'm talking about.]

Egads! By episode 6.7 of "Better Call Saul," two of my favorite main characters are dead! I wasn't thinking that these two particular characters were going to die, so their deaths came as a surprise. I am, however, thinking that Kim Wexler, Jimmy/Saul's girlfriend-turned-wife, is going to either die or leave forever. I hope she survives, but the series has gone pretty dark, and there are no guarantees as to whether certain people will survive. We know, since "Saul" is a prequel series, that Jimmy/Saul, Mike Ehrmantraut, and Gus Fring will all survive, along with Don Eladio, Hector Salamanca, and some others. But "Saul" has introduced a host of new, interesting characters whose futures remain up in the air, and the writing for the series is good enough that I actually care about these characters' fates. I'm pretty sure, though, that Lalo Salamanca is going to die by the end of the series. The guy is a murderous bastard, and he's a clear-cut case of live by the sword, die by the sword.

All that said, the series remains as funny as ever. A lot of the comedy is of the heist variety as Jimmy and Kim concoct elaborate schemes to bring down their nemesis Howard Hamlin (who really does seem to be channeling Michael Douglas). Jimmy is still an expert at getting himself into trouble, and it's often Kim, easily the smarter and more methodical of the pair, who has to swoop in and rescue him. One wonders how Jimmy was even able to function all alone in "Breaking Bad." The guy's a self-undermining mess who never learns from his mistakes.

We take a detour into Germany when Lalo, who survived the attempt on his life in Season 5, tries to track down the people who worked on Gus Fring's massive building project (i.e., the huge, underground meth lab that we first see in "Breaking Bad"). If you watched the previous seasons, you may recall the sad death of German engineer Werner, a naïve man who didn't really understand whom he was working for. Lalo, while in Germany, tracks down Werner's wife Margarethe, and this creates some tension because Lalo is normally the type to kill pretty much everyone he meets. Lalo also finds Casper, a member of Werner's construction crew. Casper's fate, after his encounter with Lalo, isn't shown, but it's a good guess that he's dead.

Season 6 feels a lot more tense and suspenseful than previous seasons, maybe because everything is coming to a head. By the finale of this series, events have to converge so that "Better Call Saul" dovetails with the story we saw in "Breaking Bad." Some of Season 6's tension comes from the heist-comedy of Kim and Jimmy, but that comic tension is counterbalanced by the horror-movie tension of watching Lalo. As mentioned, Lalo usually ends up killing the people he meets, but he doesn't always do this, so it's a flip of the coin trying to figure out who will live and who will die whenever Lalo appears. With the tension and suspense constantly ratcheting up, I have to wonder whether the finale will end up being a disappointment. We're obviously building up to something, but will that something be worth the wait? No idea. Season 6 picks up again in July.

Anyway, the first half of Season 6 was very entertaining, and it ends on a bloody cliffhanger centering on Lalo, as might be expected. You have to keep the audience hooked, after all. I know Jimmy will survive whatever fallout there is, but I'm not sure about poor Kim. As for Lalo, I'm calling it: he'll die in the final episode, probably killed by Mike, who is an even more sinister angel of death than Lalo is.

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