Better Call Saul Complete Series 1-4 DVD Box Set
Well, as Bob Odenkirk just said, “This show is now, at Season 4, Episode 4, blending with “Breaking Bad” – we’re slowly transitioning from the precursor to B.B. to becoming the beginning of B.B. So NOW, if you want to be able to say “I’ve seen all of B.B., you have to watch “Better Call Saul”, as we’re now showing how everyone in B.B. came to be how and who they are.”
This is a little different than Breaking Bad. Fans of the series already know Saul but here you find out his origins and a little about what happened after Breaking Bad. Lots of your favorite characters make a return here. No spoilers but it’s nice to see some of these characters again. Of course it’s mostly about Saul back when he was still “Jimmy McGill.”
I am looking forward to the upcoming Breaking Bad movie. Are you?
I think fans of that show will find a lot to like here. The stories are all interesting and we get a lot of insight into our favorite characters. Finding out about Mike’s story and others makes re-watches of Breaking Bad a lot richer and more textured experience. The origin of Saul Goodman is the focus and of course he is a fan favorite but we see others pop up as well. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just say give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.
I know a lot of us BREAKING BAD fans were a little dubious when it was announced that there would be a spin off series built around ¡°criminal¡± lawyer, Saul Goodman. There was no way Vince Gilligan and company could duplicate the awesomeness of BREAKING BAD again, and we feared that they were diminishing the legacy by building a show around a supporting character that probably should remain a supporting character. But now, after four seasons of BETTER CALL SAUL, I am very happy to say that we were totally wrong. While I am not ready to say SAUL surpasses BB, I will say that this new series certainly equals the original in many ways, and at times, is even more engrossing. For the latter show builds on the universe created by the former, digging way deeper into the lives of Jimmy McGill (Saul Goodman), Mike Ehrmantrout, Gus Fring, and Nacho Varga, and the scams and cons, and crimes they perpetrate, as they believe they are coming out on top, all the while sinking deeper into a darkness they have become so acclimated to that they no longer notice it.
Season 4 began with the suicide of Jimmy’s brother Chuck, and followed in the aftermath, as Jimmy had his license to practice law suspended and was forced to support himself with other gainful employment, which ultimately led him to manage a cellular phone store (this is the mid 2000’s), where he drummed up quite a trade with the Albuquerque street criminal element. Jimmy’s story this season was one con after another and a parade of utterly shameless insincerity, including a plot to steal a Hummel figure from a prospective employer that took an unexpected turn. My favorite had to be elaborate effort to win a reduced sentence for Huel Babineaux, a BB character who was not about to go back to jail; this was great writing every time, we often didn’t see where things were going and we had to keep watching to find out. The long shadow of Chuck McGill’s death hung over this season, as all who were touched by him, especially Howard Hamlin, were frequently reduced to tears by his memory. But not his brother Jimmy, and in episode after episode, we keep expecting him to break down at some point and acknowledge his loss and pain honestly, but thank God the writers never went for the easy way out. And right by Jimmy’s side throughout all of it, is Kim Wexler, wonderfully played by Rhea Seahorn, we keep waiting for something fatal and final to end this relationship, but as the season wore on, we learn that Kim has something of a dark side of her own, that she likes the excitement of the con, the bending of rules, and the taking of big risks. Throughout this series, whenever I saw Jimmy and Kim together, I would think, ¡°What’s wrong with this picture, she could do way better than him.¡± Thanks to Season 4, I now know why, but we also know that Kim does have her limits, she is not a criminal at heart, and will not do whatever it takes, no matter what. That seems to be the ticking time bomb in their relationship.
Season 4 was also about the journeys of Mike Ehrmantrout and Nacho Varga, the latter finding himself firmly in the clutches of Gus Fring after Gus figures out that it was Nacho who tried to kill Hector Salamanca. Poor Nacho is not a hard core gangster, he just wants to make some money and protect his father, but it is increasingly clear that if he wants to survive in this world, he will have to as bad as the worst. The most compelling story line of the season has to be that of Mike Ehrmantrout, who is clearly a Lee Marvin/Charles Bronson level bad ass, as he becomes increasingly more valuable to Gus and the cartel, the go to guy who gets things done. His bogus safety auditor scenes were priceless, but it was the back story of how Gus’s underground meth lab came to be was where Mike has his best moments, as he has to ride herd on a group of German engineers brought in to secretly construct it under the laundry. Give it to the writers of BETTER CALL SAUL, to take minor detail from BB and make riveting story arc out of it. All praise to Jonathan Banks, who plays a man who may have regrets or doubts, but never, ever, lets them show.
Everything came to a head in the Season 4 finale, titled ¡°Winner,¡± where we get a flashback showing a rare moment of camaraderie by the McGill brothers before the episode focuses on Jimmy’s quest to get reinstated before the bar, and Mike’s efforts to track down the AWOL Werner, who is in danger of drawing unwanted attention to Gus’s little illegal construction project. Further complicating matters is that Lalo Salamanca is nosing into Gus’s business and on Mike’s trail; while Jimmy has to show (or fake) real grief and contrition over Chuck’s death if he wants to practice law again. This episode was one great scene after another, as Mike eluded Lalo (the parking lot scene was a series best), with both of them conning and harassing a ginger headed travel agent (who didn’t come out the better for the experience), along with Mike’s final confrontation with Werner, where he does what he has to do whether he likes it or not. Throughout this episode, we see Jimmy maneuvering and faking to get on the good side of the right people to ensure that his license is reinstated. We finally get a moment of honest emotion from Jimmy, but it is not tears of grief, but an honest speech to the poor girl who came in last in the competition for the Charles McGill scholarship, where we learn the true depth of Jimmy resentment is made plain. It is the bile of a man who has been looked down by this ¡°betters¡± and knows it, hates it, and lives to get even. And we understand that Jimmy McGill is a man so broken that he can never imagine being whole. All praise to Bob Odenkirk for his awesome acting. By the end of this finale we know that Mike and Jimmy are now the characters we first met in BREAKING BAD. And all Kim can do is stand there and look shocked as the newly restored lawyer Jimmy makes known he wants to practice law in the future under a name not his own. ¡°It’s all good, man.¡±
Right now, BETTER CALL SAUL is so good that it makes most of the shows on the networks and other cable channels look like high school production; a masterpiece of writing and plotting. It’s a great show free of the shallow agenda driven writing of most ever shows on TV, and their diversity checked casting. And it left us wanting more in Season 5: what will happen to Nacho, we hardly noticed that he was not in the Season 4 finale; what will happen when Lalo catches on to Gus and Mike, no matter what it will not be pretty and will certainly threaten peace in the ranks of the Mexican cartel; will we ever see a true flash forward with “Gene” at Cinnebon, I increasingly think there is a big shoe waiting to drop there; most of all, what will happen with Kim and Jimmy, most of us were certain their relationship would be a casualty of Season 4, but they are still together, but we wonder how she will share Jimmy with Saul Goodman.
Back when BETTER CALL SAUL first premiered, we all wondered and hoped that maybe we would see Walter White and Jesse Pinkman again. But after four seasons, it is clear that this show does not need the presence of Bryan Cranston or Aaron Paul in their iconic parts; SAUL firmly and proudly stands on its own two feet.
Actors: Bob Odenkirk, Mark Johnson, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould
Format: Color, Dolby, Widescreen, PAL
Region: Region 4 for Australia
Number of discs: 12
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release in: 2018