The third season of Better Call Saul picks up exactly where the second season ended. There is no time skip. We are thrown right back into Chuck McGill’s foil lined library, coaxing his brother Jimmy into confessing that yes, he had sabotaged Chuck’s dealing with Mesa Verde. Which by extension gave Kim Wexler a big fish client and earned Jimmy a petty yet satisfactory victory over his arch nemesis Howard Hamlin. Just shy of a year from the initial airing of the Season 2 finale, we finally find out what Chuck’s plan is for the secretly recorded confessional and how our “hero” Jimmy will respond. We again see alliances solidified, forged and redefined.
It’s been almost a year since we saw Mike, perched on a distant sand dune ready to assassinate Tio Salamanca only to receive an ominous warning via car horn. “Don’t”. The first two episodes of Season 3 will offer no hasty answer as to who left the message. However, we are treated to engrossing performances by Johnathan Banks as he tries to outwit and discover who exactly has been keeping tabs on Mike.
It was nice to see Jimmy’s mail room friend Ernesto play a small but pivotal role in the larger overall plot. Of course, there will be some familiar faces from the Breaking Bad universe returning as well. Yes, one can surmise who shows up using AMC’s marketing material, but dare I say, that particular character is not alone. Just as we got a glimpse of pre-Breaking Bad Ken in Season 2, we get to see how another Breaking Bad ancillary character entered the scene. Also, per seasonal tradition, we get to check in with “Gene”! This season appears to be setting the stage for a greater in-depth look into how Jimmy McGill’s post Breaking Bad alter ego is holding up.
While viewing the first two episodes of Better Call Saul Season 3, I kept finding myself glancing at the clock, then back to the television, then at the elapsed time bar of the video for the episode itself. As the episodes kept moving forward I kept questioning how long I had been watching the episodes.
Was I experiencing dense tales snugly fit into their run time or was I viewing a long blossoming story given room to grow and breath? It seems counter intuitive, but the odd sense of time I was experiencing helped established an effective, deliberate pace. While the episodes are packed with minimalist progression, they are no less engrossing. Past seasons’ episodes have garnered some criticism for either moving too quickly establishing nothing or too slowly trying to establish a lot. If the first two episodes of this season are any indication, this will be the season Better Call Saul has found it’s own unique voice, ties to Breaking Bad be damned.
Speaking of Breaking Bad, there is also no doubt the series is well on it’s way to an inevitable collision with the pre-established introduction of Saul Goodman. We, the viewer, are well aware how this story ends. The march toward the inevitable merge grows shorter and shorter. Sometime in the not too distant future, Jimmy McGill will become Saul Goodman. Until then, Season three, while obviously trapped in the gravity of Breaking Bad still has time to expound before the words collide. This makes the nuanced and detailed creation of Jimmy McGill’s pre-Walter White world all the more impressive.
Better Call Saul season 3 premieres April 10 at 10/9c on AMC.