Better Call Saul, season six review: TV’s best slow-burner returns without missing a beat

After a two-year break, the accomplished ‘Breaking Bad’ spin-off is back for a sixth and final season. The end may be in sight, but the first two episodes hold true to the series’ uniquely patient ethos

Louis Chilton
Tuesday 19 April 2022 06:38
Comments
Better Call Saul final season trailer

Has there ever been a TV series as masterful as Better Call Saul at staying three steps ahead of its audience? Even more so than its predecessor Breaking Bad, Saul has carved out a niche doing exactly this – slowly teasing its fans with pieces of a puzzle, only to reveal what it is you’re watching hours down the line. The series returns to screens today following a hiatus of two years, with the sixth and final season having been delayed due to the pandemic (as well as shorter disruptions stemming from Bob Odenkirk’s on-set heart attack). You wouldn’t know by watching, however – it picks itself back up without missing a beat.

The season premiere picks up immediately after the end of season four, with Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) wrongly presumed dead after a bloody raid on his Mexican home. Nacho (Michael Mando) has been immediately pegged as the inside man, and goes on the run for his life. Meanwhile, north of the border, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), now fully embracing his “Saul Goodman” persona, conspires with his now wife Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) to enact devious vengeance against his former employer Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian).

Saul has always been somewhat divided in its storytelling. On the one hand, you have the legal mischief surrounding McGill/Goodman and the eccentricities of the Albuquerque legal scene. On the other, you have the power struggle between factions of the New Mexico drug cartel, which plays more like a traditional crime drama and gives plenty of screen time to returning Breaking Bad favourites Mike (Jonathan Banks), Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) and Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis). These two worlds often dovetail and intersect one another, but not always: season six begins with two episodes that keep them firmly apart.

With tension mounting in the underworld plotline, the decision to embroil Jimmy and Kim in an elaborate act of character assassination – motivated entirely by petty spite – might seem, on paper, like something of a distraction. But there’s nothing Saul does better than show a scheme at work. We watch as they set up the dominoes, unaware exactly how they’re going to fall. As always, the cleverness in the writing is matched by exemplary talent elsewhere: Saul remains one of the best directed and best acted shows on TV. For my money, the standouts are Seehorn – by turns endearing and flinty; impossible to get a read on – and the wickedly charismatic Dalton, but there’s not a weak link in the bunch.

With just 12 more episodes to go, it’s clear that Better Call Saul is ramping up for its endgame. But if the first two episodes are anything to judge it by, it’s going to go about that the same way it has the rest of its story. Slowly. Methodically. The devil is in the details, but so is everything else. It’s a pleasure to be three steps behind.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in