There was just no way I couldn't do reviews on Better Call Saul, this show is just way too good not to. This should provide me a welcome break from the consistent disappointment of The Walking Dead this year.
Well to begin, "Mabel" was an excellent premiere for the third season of Better Call Saul, I'll give it a 70 out of 100. The pacing was slow, but that is par for the course by this point. And ultimately I wasn't at all bothered by the pacing because there was just so much to love about this.
I will start with the phenomenal directing. Better Call Saul is the best looking show on TV for a reason and there were plenty of beautiful camera angles, excellent lighting techniques and creative montages as usual, which makes this show just a joy to behold. There was literally around 15 minutes total during the Mike storyline where not a single word was said and yet it still worked so well and I was never bored and I could never look away from the screen. On almost any other show these scenes would never have worked, but here they are outstanding and allow us to experience Mike's dilemma when he is being followed.
The only flaw in Mike's storyline is that it's painfully obvious that the tracker is Gus or more likely one of Gus' men. This predictability takes away a bit from the experience but its still nonetheless fascinating to watch Mike turn the tables on his tracker through a very carefully constructed plan. By showing some lengthy sequences of Mike working on his car and working on the tracking device, it allows us to really appreciate the level of thought that Mike put into uncovering the tracker and makes the final scene of Mike going after him all the more satisfying. The level of patience shown really makes it pay off in the end and I found myself grinning wildly when I realized exactly how Mike had planned everything when he was driving away in the closing shots of the episode.
That storyline took up half of the episode and the rest was spent with Jimmy, Chuck and Kim for the most part. After last season's excellent finale it felt like Jimmy would be behind bars real soon, and yet it's going down much slower than I had expected. And yet the reasoning all fits, Chuck can't use the tape against Jimmy yet and so by patiently adding more to the story, it could make Jimmy's ultimate exposure that much more impactful and I can't wait for it. While some would probably say the marketing of Jimmy behind bars was giving away too much, I disagree. This show has always been about the journey, not the destination and just like in the Mike storyline, we know that the payoff will make it all worth it in the end even if we know where the story is going.
Chuck and Jimmy's relationship continues to be interesting. The early scenes between them were excellent as we can see the brotherly love that brought hem together before. It makes you think for a second that Chuck may just let everything go, but then Chuck coldly dismisses that thought by brutally telling Jimmy that "you will pay". It's suitably grim and really telling of where Chuck's mind is at in their relationship. Jimmy on the other hand, is still bitter and angry, as shown in that excellent confrontation between Jimmy and the airforce representative from "Fifi". but the difference is that Jimmy is willing to let it all go away for his brother, but Chuck will never think that way for Jimmy.
Kim is excellent as usual in her scenes. There is obviously a growing rift between her and Jimmy after the whole Mesa Verde fiasco and Rhea Seehorn plays Kim's discomfort and conflict very well. Her scenes with Jimmy and Paige were masterfully acted and told a lot about the dilemma she is facing in each of those situations. Kim is one of the few characters whose future is uncertain so it's easy to cheer her on and hope that she can be happy. That makes her current conflicts very engaging since either way she goes it seems like there will always be a struggle for her, which allows for us to really hope that she can find happiness somehow.
Lastly, the opening scene at Cinnabon was expected but still very well done. It spoke a lot about this new character "Gene" who has been built up slowly these past 3 seasons so that we can learn more about him. Here we see that despite everything he's been through there is still that part of Saul Goodman that lives inside him that so desperately wants to break free. It should be fascinating to see where Gene's story will ultimately go.
-Fantastic stuff with that peeling the duct tape scene between Jimmy and Chuck. It really goes to show how they differ in their perspectives.
-Jimmy exploding in his conversation with the airforce representative was excellent stuff. It's clear that he felt like he was talking to Chuck and we really got to see his emotions come out after getting so belittled by the man.
-Excellent stuff with Chuck conning Ernesto to get his plan to capture Jimmy going Chuck probably expects Ernie to tell Jimmy about the tape which could prompt some illegal actions from him, which Chuck could then exploit. Chuck is proving to be an even better conman than Jimmy.
This premiere delivered exactly how it should have. Despite being very slow, I fully expect the patient approach to pay off and the artistic and character-driven story of Better Call Saul is more than enough to make this an episode worth watching.