Vince Gilligan’s shows do some interesting things with time frames. Last episode a scene with Chuck ended and the episode carried on not revisiting the character at all for the remainder of the episode. The beginning of this episode picked up where we left that character. This kind of dedication to giving all the character’s their time to tell their story allows the audience to experience the full rich tapestry of this universe Gilligan has created.
The interesting visual style and sets coupled with the nuanced performances make something as basic as a discussion absolutely fascinating. These episodes somehow wizz along despite their use of long, quiet scenes of awkward interactions. Better Call Saul does not rely on lots of action and yet the 40 minute episodes race by. I can hardly believe we are already half way through the season, I know it is a shorter season than the usual consisting of only 10 episodes but it still seems to have gone very fast.
Bob Odenkirk puts on a very well thought out and nuanced performance as Jimmy McGill. A noticeable acting choice was how quick James grabs the money when the old lady pays the attorney for his services. McGill is struggling for money and has already been through the scenario of thinking he is getting money and then losing the opportunity.
There were some very clever cinematic techniques used in this episode. Particularly when the show simulated the discomfort Chuck suffers when he is near technology. The effects and sound used actually gives the viewer a sort of psychosomatic panic. The viewer feels the same discomfort that no doubt Chuck does. This is interesting as the characters in the show claim that Chuck’s condition is also all in his mind, some kind of physical reaction to a problem that is actually caused by some form of anxiety.
Better Call Saul has such a confidence in its actors and directing that it often goes a long time with no music, often in one very long take. This is really is quality television. The moment where Jimmy watches law programs on TV and uses it as research was very interesting to see. The way he sketched out the suit the lawyer was wearing so that he can get on for his own pursuits was almost reminiscent of a superhero designing his costume. Essentially McGill is creating a persona, the person he is in the courtroom is very different to the person he is when he is with Kim. It was almost like seeing someone out of character, honing that fictional version of them self so that they can slip into it when they are in the role. We are somewhat seeing the acting process played out on screen, however McGill’s platform is not stage or screen, it is the courtroom.
Seeing “James McGill attorney at law” at work doing what he does best is always fun. He really worked the room in that home for elderly people. At the moment James McGill’s humour is often through his discomfort in awkward or frightening situations however it is good to see the occasional flash of the sharp and cutting wit of Saul Goodman.
There was a very strange scene at the end of this episode involving Mike Ehrmantraut. This odd exchange of glances and silence leaves me wondering what the story is there. The character of Mike us a real enigma, he is one of the least explored characters of the Breaking Bad universe so it should be good to get more of a profile on him in the episodes to come.