Better Call Saul is not just any spin off. It’s easy to be cynical when it comes to shows that bring back popular characters. In the end, it’s all about milking a couple of extra pesos from a franchise, isn’t it? Well, now that this week is coming to an end, it’s time for the definitive declaration so that you can convince anyone to give the show a chance:
‘Better Call Saul’ is the perfect tragedy of modern television.
Better than Breaking Bad?
The title of this article was originally going to be “Is Better Call Saul Better Than Breaking Bad?”, but I ended up scrapping this option not only because the click bait left me with a terrible taste in my mouth, but also because I can’t write honestly. this sentence.
For me, Breaking Bad is one of the best series on television (depending on my mood that day, I might even give it first place). His final season, in particular, is a masterpiece of how to build tension through the inevitable and close the arc of such a memorable character as Walter White. ‘Ozymandias’, the 14th episode of its last season, is one of the best pieces on television. So no. Better Call Saul is no better than Breaking Bad.
But what it is is a different version of some things that its ‘mother’ series was not. Both shows share a basic premise: “how does a man become ‘bad’”. In the case of Breaking Bad, the story is told through a development in which we do not know the outcome of his character. Will Heissenberg end up as the biggest narco that ever lived or will his empire fall? Will they catch him or will he continue to make a narrow escape?
Better Call Saul is similar… but somewhat different. We already know Jimmy’s fate (or at least his inevitable corruption) so the goal isn’t quite this.
Better Call Saul is about punishment
Watching the transformation from Saul to Jimmy has been fascinating, especially if we look away to where the character begins. As with Breaking Bad, the show opens by showing how this lawyer doesn’t ‘want’ to be bad. He is behind the respect of his brother who does not see him as anything more than a thief, of professional success that sponsors a life much better than the one he has had, of someone who appreciates his intelligence at the time of obtaining results.
The world initially doesn’t seem fair to Saul.
But with each season, with each new plan from which the protagonist narrowly escapes… we realize that there is a greater tragedy. How can a scammer live with the truth of the damage he has caused?
The death of his brother, the old woman who is isolated from her group, the death of Howard or the anonymous targets of his scams. It is curious how Saul shows us in a much more obvious way the consequence of these actions. The show even gets into Saul’s game of justifying them. Chuck was a terrible brother. Howard was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Saul is a Modern Robin Hood who steals from the rich to give to the ‘poor’…
Kim and Saul: Better than Breaking Bad
Didn’t you see it coming?
Neither do I. Initially Kim Wexler seemed like just another character. An unsolved puzzle from Better Call Saul. At least until we find that the dynamic of the duo is different than expected. Kim is not only someone who supports Jimmy’s transformation into Saul… but she is also the co-star of this story:
How can these people live with what they have done?
In the case of Kim, it is wonderful how the last seasons try to make this balance: lawyer for those who have no way by day, con artist at night. She defends the law in front of a judge, but fascinated by the dark world of her husband. But unlike Saul, Kim at some point can’t make any more excuses. She can’t keep running away and blaming others.
They are the cause of so much pain.
It’s a dynamic that is so much brighter and subtler and deeper than Jesse Pinkman and Whalter White. One that in its final chapter seems to want to answer just one question:
If you can live with the pain of others… can you also live with their punishment?
The final episode of Breaking Bad premieres this August 15 on Netflix.
Images: Netflix and AMC