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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: Lead actors shine in second season of ‘Better Call Saul’


    Promotional still for Better Call Saul. Season 2 is set to end on April 18.

    The AMC original series “Better Call Saul” is now in its sophomore season and continues to provide more of what viewers loved about season one.

    The series serves as a spinoff of “Breaking Bad,” one of AMC’s most successful and critically acclaimed series of all time. Bob Odenkirk stars as lawyer Jimmy McGill and the show explores his early days as a lawyer, before he changed his name to Saul Goodman and became involved with Walter White. Odenkirk uses his wit and charm to shine in the leading role, balanced well with co-star Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, another character of “Breaking Bad” fame.

    The series does not compare to the greatness of “Breaking Bad,” but this comparison should not occur in the first place. Odenkirk brings his wit and likability to the character, and the exploration of his origins make him significanlty more fleshed out than when his character appeared in “Breaking Bad.” Banks plays a serious and seemingly unfeeling character, but he plays him in a way that makes it difficult to actually take him seriously.

    Season two picks up where season one left off — Jimmy just started working at a prestigious law firm as it takes action against a series of retirement homes called Sandpiper Crossing. Sandpiper Crossings’ management has allegedly taken advantage of its elderly residents by drastically overcharging them. Jimmy takes it upon himself to become the voice of the older generation, and the scenes of him trying to solicit the residents as clients will make viewers laugh.

    Meanwhile, Mike serves as a bodyguard to a nerdy drug dealer while the dealer sells pharmaceuticals to other, scarier drug dealers. Their interactions also inspire laughs from the audience.

    With that, the show’s heavy use of humor serves as a way to surprise the viewer. It isn’t a comedy, by any means, but it doesn’t quite take itself seriously enough for viewers to acknowledge it as a serious drama. It definitely has the feel of the “Breaking Bad” universe, and even though it deals with similar issues like drugs and corruption, it also has a considerably lighter tone than its predecessor. It doesn’t take itself as seriously, and it is nowhere near as emotionally draining or thematically deep as “Breaking Bad.” Protagonists Jimmy and Walter are entirely different, and Jimmy’s lighter and wittier character fits in well with this show.

    All of these elements combine to create the final product, which works out successfully, for the most part. Odenkirk balances wit and humor with more serious moments in a way that shows off his acting ability, and how this role was made for him. Banks also shines in his respective role. The show only has one real problem right now: these two characters rarely interact.

    The new season seems like it wants to explore the story lines of Jimmy and Mike simultaneously without having them intersect. Mike works as a parking attendant and the two have entertaining conversations whenever Jimmy drives through the parking lot, but that’s basically the only instance they meet face-to-face in the new season.

    The writers need to find a way to more successfully blend these two characters into a single storyline, and the show should progress in a way that involves both of them together in some capacity rather than just on their own. Although it already has great writing and terrific performances, the show can still improve, and hopefully the writers will take this advice as the season progresses.

    Season two of “Better Call Saul” airs Monday nights on AMC.

    Grade: A-

    Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter.

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