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‘Better Call Saul’ Recap: “Mabel”

Cameron Lee 20′ / Emertainment Monthly Contributor

Spoiler Alert: This recap contains spoilers for the season 3 premiere of Better Call Saul.

Better Call Saul, for all intents and purposes, is not just a prequel to one of the greatest television shows ever made. This is a tragedy that gets increasingly difficult to watch as we know what becomes of Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk). The season 3 premiere continues the show’s tradition of implementing a slow burn method to its storytelling. While normally this would be extremely frustrating, Better Call Saul is one of the few cases where this method of storytelling shines. The premiere flows at a natural pace and, even when technically nothing important is happening on screen, the show’s impeccable cinematography and acting make every scene something special.

The season picks up like all previous seasons have: in a flash forward after the events of Breaking Bad. Gene (Saul) is still working at a Cinnabon in Nebraska. While eating lunch and reading a copy of The Moon’s a Balloon (the book choice is very indicative of what the writers have in mind for the series). He sees a young shoplifter hid in a photo booth. When security guards come by to ask him for his whereabouts, he points the kid out. As the security guards haul the kid away, Gene (Saul) yells at him to stay silent and to hire a lawyer. When he returns to his workstation, he suddenly collapses to the floor.

Back in the present (2002), Jimmy is still in Chuck’s house after he confessed to tampering with court documents. Chuck has secretly recorded their whole conversation in his efforts to destroy Jimmy (F*** Chuck). Chuck (Michael Mckean) is playing with his brother; he’s the most unlikable character on the show because we know what his future actions will lead to. While helping Chuck take down his tinfoil coated living room, Jimmy reminisces about his childhood memories. Chuck lets Jimmy reminisce about their childhood for around a minute before telling Jimmy: Don’t think I’ll ever forget what happened here today.” He says this menacingly before telling Jimmy: “And you will pay.” Chuck plays the tape to his law partner Howard (Patrick Fabian) who doesn’t believe the tape will hold up in court. Chuck has a plan in place to get back at Jimmy and tells Howard he knows exactly how to use to tape.

Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn in Better Call Saul. PC: AMC Network

Kim (Rhea Seehorn) is feeling guilty for what happened in the Mesa Verde case, which is very telling in a scene later in the episode when she keeps retyping a semicolon in her brief. This was very stressful to watch, a credit to the show’s always excellent editing. Jimmy is confronted by the air force colonel from last season. He realized he got duped by Jimmy and wants the commercial pulled. After a great argument ( the highlight of the episode) Jimmy relents to his demands. As he leaves, the colonel tells him: “The wheel’s gonna turn. It always does”.

Meanwhile, Mike (Jonathan Banks) is trying to figure out who sabotaged his assassination of Hector Salamanca and left a note that read “Don’t.” He does this by finding the tracking device in the gas cap of his car. He then reverse engineers the device to enable him to track the device. These two scenes have very little dialogue and last around 20 minutes. Still, it’s never boring thanks to the inventive cinematography and low key acting of Jonathan Banks. The premiere ends with Mike following the tracker in his car which will eventually lead him to meet Gus in the near future.

This premiere added to the growing sense of dread that was seeping into the series since the beginning of the 2nd season. It’s slow but methodically so. Vince Gilligan is a master storyteller. Every artistic and writing choice he makes is for a very good reason. There should be no reason to worry; we are in very good hands.

Episode Grade: B+

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