REVIEW: Better Call Saul – Season Two (2016)

Better Call Saul - Reviewed

The following is a review of the second season of Better Call Saul. Expect spoilers for the first two seasons.

Last year, with the first season of Better Call Saul, I became even more enthralled with the Breaking Bad-universe. Somehow the television masterpiece that Vince Gilligan created was being strengthened by a prequel spin-off show. As I mentioned in the season one review, I was worried about what it would do to the legacy of Breaking Bad. I wasn’t sure if it would work. Well, I ended up loving the first season of Better Call Saul, and the second season did not disappoint either. Better Call Saul is currently my favorite show on television.

At the end of season one, Jimmy McGill (played by Bob Odenkirk) was done with Chuck (played by Michael McKean). Jimmy was going to disregard the watchful eye of Chuck and his own moral compass. Jimmy now wanted to do what he felt was right, and, at the beginning of the second season of the show, Jimmy found out that he didn’t need to be an attorney to get the girl. Kim (played by Rhea Seehorn) still didn’t want to see Jimmy have his law degree wasted, though.

So, this season Jimmy had to find out what kind of attorney he was going to be. Could he fit into the round hole of legal ethics, or was he just a square peg? Meanwhile, Kim’s connection to Jimmy became a problem, as everything he does ends up hurting his loved ones. Perhaps Jimmy really is what Chuck said he was last season.

Now, as you may have noticed, in the brief premise outline above I did not mention anything about Mike Ehrmantraut (played by Jonathan Banks). The thing is, while I ultimately loved a lot of what was happening with Mike this season, in excellent episodes like Gloves Off, a lot of what he brought to this season actually worried me.

I love Breaking Bad as much as the next fan, but this season got really close to overdoing the Breaking Bad-connection. It’s the same universe, sure. But some of the appearances didn’t feel as natural as I would’ve liked them too. And when the show really hinted at the one big guest appearance fans have been waiting for, they chickened out, pun intended.

The only other problem I had with this season was the start of the second season. The episodes weren’t bad, the writers just decided to undo the ending of the first season finale. I really enjoyed the first season finale, which ended on a pretty high note, but the opening to the second season undid it all. One step forward, but two steps back – as I put it in the Switch episode review.

With the negatives out of the way, let’s move on to what is perhaps the biggest positive I have about the second season: Kim Wexler is one of the main characters now. If Rhea Seehorn did a great job in the first season as Kim Wexler, then she was flat-out fantastic in the second season. As I’ve previously written, she isn’t just a love interest, but she truly does love Jimmy in some way, shape, or form.

Seehorn was flawless this season, there’s no other way to put it. Seehorn outshone Odenkirk, Banks, and McKean, who all gave fantastic performances last season and were just as good in the second season of the show. For some, Kim Wexler is now one of the best characters in the Breaking Bad-universe, which is as much of a compliment to Seehorn as it is to the writers of Better Call Saul.

When this show, Better Call Saul, is over, I feel certain that the ninth episode of the second season will come up when discussing the very best episodes of the show. Nailed, written and directed by Peter Gould, is a masterpiece. It may very well be the definitive Better Call Saul-episode. Every major character in the show had a moment to shine. For Mike, it was the opening of the episode. For both Kim and Chuck, it was the gigantic discussion that led to this perfect speech from Kim:

“I know he’s not perfect, and I know he cuts corners. But you’re the one who made him this way. He idolizes you, he accepts you, he takes care of you. And all he ever wanted was your love and support. But all you’ve ever done is judge him. You never believed in him, you never wanted him to succeed. And, you know what? I feel sorry for him. And I feel sorry for you.” – Kim Wexler to Chuck McGill.

Now, what about Jimmy, you may ask? Jimmy’s moment came at the very end. Slippin’ Jimmy had been doing the dirty work for a while at this point. Jimmy was taking his brother down, and Chuck knew it was happening. Chuck always knew how he had done it, he just needed some proof. In what is both one of the best and most haunting moments in the history of the Breaking Bad-universe, Chuck, filled with anger, falls and hits his head on a counter in the copy store.

Up to this point, Jimmy had been watching as everything has been going as planned. But, out of the blue, everything went wrong. Jimmy goes from being cautiously confident to suddenly being frightened, stunned, worried, and unsure about what to do next. Bob Odenkirk does a wonderful job in this scene. What a brilliant cliffhanger, which led us into an episode, Klick, that would make us even more angry at Chuck.

We’ve talked about Slippin’ Jimmy for a while now, and we’ve already seen Chuck’s true colors prior to the second season of the show. But this season showed us that Chuck isn’t afraid of slipping into the territory of cruelty. Chuck is egomaniacal. When Chuck chooses to ‘slip’, as it were, it is only for his own good. Chuck will stoop as low as possible to get one over on Jimmy.

The second season of Better Call Saul was a slow-burn, but that is how this show operates. Sure, there are episodes, like Five-O or Gloves Off, that give you Breaking Bad-like action, but this show is about the small character moments. Better Call Saul is much more understated. We need it to be a slow-burn, and two seasons in a row we’ve seen fantastic conclusions to great seasons. Better Call Saul just keeps getting better.

A

– I’m Jeffrey Rex

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