AMMAN: “Better Call Saul” is one of those shows that, if a friend tells you they’ve never seen it, your reaction is one of surprise that they’ve ignored something you’ve presumably recommended a dozen times already and envy that they can still have the joy of discovering this fantastic piece of work.
It has just started its sixth and final season. What began as a prequel spin-off from “Breaking Bad” has gone on to achieve what many thought impossible — not just matching the high bar set by its parent program, but arguably surpassing it.
“Breaking Bad” was the tale of a good man doing bad things for (initially, at least) good reasons. “Better Call Saul” is more nuanced: You have bad people sometimes doing good things (veteran hitman Mike, for example, superbly portrayed by Jonathan Banks), good people doing selfish things for fun/revenge (Kim Wexler, Saul’s wife — played by Rhea Seehorn — say), and then there’s Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill himself, the heartbeat of the show, played magnificently by Bob Odenkirk in the role of a lifetime.
Saul is both good and bad. Greedy and generous. Sensitive and soulless. Bold and terrified. Funny and frightening. It’s an astonishing performance by Odenkirk, conveying all of this and more, often in a single scene. And that performance is only enhanced by the all-round brilliance of the ensemble, who are pretty much faultless.
As we enter the home stretch, there is still plenty to tie-up, even though the ultimate jeopardy is off the table; we know that Saul survives whatever is to come, because we’ve seen him in “Breaking Bad.” But. We also know that Kim was not in “Breaking Bad.” And that makes this final series all the more tense. Will she die? Is she forced to disappear because of Saul’s involvement with a Mexican drug cartel? Does she just get sick of living with someone who lies so easily?
The first three episodes leave us little the wiser. We know tensions are rising in the internal cartel war, and that Saul is in way over his head. We know Kim’s plan to bring down her former boss, Howard, is — against Saul’s better judgment — progressing at pace. And we know that “Breaking Bad” protagonists Walter White and Jesse Pinkman will turn up at some point (probably breaking the internet when they do).
Apart from that, we also know that when “Better Call Saul” does end, television will have lost one of the finest shows ever made.