“Better Call Saul” took some time to find its footing. Its first few seasons can feel uneven. The show eventually settled into its style, and each season became better than the last. The show’s fifth season continues this trend.
This season is better than the rest, though it still has a few of the same problems. The show spends too much time putting characters we know from “Breaking Bad” in dangerous situations, expecting us to feel some kind of suspense. As audience members, we know that characters like Saul and Mike can’t die in this show, because they appear later in the “Breaking Bad” timeline.
It’s when the focus is on other characters that the show truly gets suspenseful. Then, it can be terrifying and emotionally draining. And a lot of this suspense comes from one person, who serves as the villian for the series.
Lalo Salamanca is the first true villain introduced to “Better Call Saul.” There were other bad people introduced previously, like the other Salamancas, Hector and Tuco, but they never had the impact Lalo has on screen. Lalo is another great villain in the “Breaking Bad” franchise, which previously has introduced some of the most compelling bad guys in television. Thanks to Tony Dalton’s performance, Lalo is energetic— stealing every scene he’s in. He’s charming even when he’s scary.
He plays an important role for the show. His presence as a straightforward villain marks how far the show’s story has come. The main characters have further embraced their role of being criminals and compromising their morals, and Lalo is a consequence of their actions that they have to face. The story is getting darker, with less comedy and more murder being shown on screen.
“Better Call Saul” is a show that’s coming to an end. The sixth season will probably be its final one. Like “Breaking Bad,” the writers know it’s better to properly end a story rather than to drag the show out as long as possible. This season does a great job of setting up that ending. We have seen its characters change, and many of them for the worse.
The prime example of this is Kim Wexler’s journey. In this season, she, along with us, finds out who she really is and what she wants.
Kim has a conscience. She often questions Saul’s actions. She has her own code, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Her code involves helping out her people, but says nothing about hurting others. By the fifth season, Jimmy’s shady actions have rubbed off on her. He’s at fault, but so is Kim for letting him in. And better yet, she was always comfortable with doing the wrong thing to a certain degree. It’s hard to say who is truly to blame.
It’s Kim’s arc that hits you in the gut. We knew that Jimmy was going to have his fall from grace and become what he is in “Breaking Bad,” Saul Goodman. It was a question of what caused him to become Saul. But with Kim, we didn’t know that was going to happen. It feels like we’ve been cheated. At first, I hated it—but that’s why season five is the best so far.
The brilliance of the “Breaking Bad” franchise is its ability to change a character gradually over time. These changes are often so subtle that it’s hard to say exactly where the change happens. It can frustrate you as a viewer, watching these characters make choices you know will come back to bite them. What’s truly frustrating, though, is that most other TV shows won’t or can’t do this.