Better Call Saul Season 3 Finale: The Show that Almost Called Itself Off

WARNING: This entry contains spoilers. 

I’m hitting this a little late, nonetheless I had to follow up on my previous post about the popular Breaking Bad prequel. At the time I wrote it I’d become increasingly worried about the writers’ apparent hesitation to wrap things up climactically. This is especially considering that the season was around seven episodes in at that point. “How”, I pondered, “would the show be able to pick this up at the 11th hour and still land a season renewal after the finale was said and done?”

I’m glad to say that I’m pleasantly surprised; the last two episodes delivered well. Kim Wexler’s car accident, though in the long run just a temporary setback, was painfully directed to the interminable slack she’s been having to pick up, owing to Jimmy’s year long bar suspension. We can easily anticipate this is only going to strain Jimmy and Kim’s relationship as the shock of her accident wears off.

Still, the biggest upset, without question, would be the apparent on screen suicide of Chuck McGill, who’s spiraling madness had become something of a stagnant liability to the show, almost as much as Chuck himself had become a liability to Hamlin Hamlin & McGill. Maybe Chuck could somehow survive having intentionally kicked an oil lamp to the floor, sitting there as his living room burst into flames. But if we know Vince Gilligan, we know that when such a sweeping statement of character development is made, it sticks. To that end, we can presume Chuck McGill is dead.

I’m happy to say the show has been renewed for a fourth season, but waiting a year to see what happens next (and the last time around, I had to wait longer, due to production delays) is tedious considering that this season didn’t build things up the way the last season did. My speculation is that season 4 may be the last. The makers of the show seem to think people will stick around forever as a matter of reverence because the show was born out of the timeless sensibilities of Walter White’s Albuquerque. But take it from this Albuquerquean, even we are close to having had enough, as per the show’s decreased viewership.

So my advice to the writers would be this: tie up the gap between Jimmy/Kim’s storyline and that of Mike/Hector/Nacho, which seem to be running hopelessly parallel and separate at this point, and move everything else along fast. To quote the (likely) late Chuck McGill, “Time being of the essence.”

 

Anyone else worried about Better Call Saul – Season 3?

I’m happy to say that the issues between Netflix and AMC for Season 2 have been resolved and that Season 2 is now available on the streaming site. However, as I remain tuned in faithfully to the third season, I’m beginning to feel as though things are fizzling, rather than heating up. The show is spending a disproportionate amount of time dealing with mundane aspects of Jimmy/Saul’s life, such as picking up trash for community service and trying to pay for the commercial time he bought when he hadn’t anticipated getting suspended from practicing law for a year. Even the side plotline involving Mike, Hector, and Nacho seems to be dragging its feet.

Friends & family who watch the show, as well as myself, are starting to worry that too many people will lose interest and that Vince Gilligan will entertain the notion of cancellation. It could happen if they don’t tighten things up. There are only three episodes left of the current season, which was delayed multiple times for production reasons. That in itself is often a sign of creative difficulties, and three episodes won’t be enough to wrap up the many loose ends, not least of which pertain to the insufferable Chuck McGill’s pending insanity. If the show doesn’t get another season, we’ll be left completely in the dark.

So in that case, yes, I worry. I am not of the position that just because Better Call Saul is based on the Breaking Bad universe that it will find itself safe from the cutting block despite not delivering what we should so reasonably ask! I hope the writers know what they are doing!

Bob’s Burgers: A brief overview

I’ve been watching this cartoon an awful lot lately. The first episode I ever saw was the pilot, and I hated it. It was hideously disorganized. I ignored it on Netflix until about a year later, when I decided to give it another chance. I was glad I did; even though the show certainly had a lot of evolving to do before it could even begin to compete with the likes of Family Guy (which I might add is passed its prime), it’s certainly lived up to the public’s expectations. I feel as though it’s actually a somewhat progressive show. That is, it employs a type of humor that other cartoons haven’t really experimented with. It’s filled with nuances that someone with a watchful eye for satire can appreciate. And that of course, is considering that their viewers are the same type of people that appreciate the subtle social and political commentary the Simpsons tends to put into their episodes.

The best episode I’ve seen so far is S03: E08: The Unbearable Like-Likeness of Gene. There are already mountains of sites that can give you an in depth plot line, and better yet, you should just watch it for yourself. But here’s a short synopsis. There’s an impossibly annoying girl at Gene’s school who develops a crush on him. Gene tries to get out of this forced relationship, but first finds out her father is a jingle writer for commercials and, being in the music business, has access to some pretty sweet studio equipment. Stuff like this:

This here looks like a hospital machine of some sort, but it’s actually a Music Production ControllerIt’s a very high priced switchboard used for sampling and recording and is generally only seen in recording studios. Gene is not a ‘real musician’ by any stretch of the imagination. His idea of a new composition consists of making fart noises with his keyboard and other electronics. In other words, he’s no up-and-coming Elton John. He doesn’t actually play anything, but he does have an interest in instruments nonetheless. So when he meets someone who has a whole studio full of them, it makes sense he wants access to that for as long as he can. But for that, he has to continue dating this annoying chick.

Well, maybe he’s an up-and-coming Weird Al.

He rationalizes it, saying he could tolerate Courtney if he didn’t have to see or hear her. This inspires him to write lyrics to a “remix” he calls “Silent Love”. The lyrics go something like this:

“When I close my eyes and cover my ears, it’s like you’re not even here. It’s a silent love.”

How insensitively insulting. That’s as though you’re telling them you wish you didn’t have to interact with them. The girl however, is too dense to realize it’s not a compliment.

More dense is that Gene believes this song will get him a record deal through Doug (who, again, writes jingles and is not a record producer…actually Bob points that out). But things go wrong while he’s playing the song at Courtney’s birthday party when she becomes so annoying he can’t help but yell at her. Since Courtney has a congenital heart condition, she has an episode resembling a heart attack and has to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. The doc stabilizes her, but all the other kids now hate Gene and Courtney breaks up with him. This means no more recording studio for Gene, and Doug wants nothing to do with him. Actually Gene asked “Does this mean I can’t go to gear heaven anymore?” to which Doug responds “Not a chance in gear hell.”

He’s actually not as nice as he looks, as you’ll find out reading on.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that six months later, Gene sees his own lyrics appear in a commercial for a business called “Silent Muffler“. It would appear Doug stole his lyrics and used them for his next commercial jingle. Tough break. Doug probably made a hefty creative fee off the song and will likely collect residuals or royalties on the content for years to come. And nobody will ever believe some bumbling kid if he ever claims that his work was stolen. It would just be the kid’s word against that of a successful songwriter.

Of course, one could speculate this wasn’t the first time this guy stole some poor kid’s work and profited off it. Maybe he sees any “friend” Courtney invites over as a potential uncredited ghost writer for his next jingle. That’d be unbelievably menacing, but stranger things have happened in the music business.


The ironic misfortune here was that Gene’s unpleasant experience with this girl manifested in a commercial jingle that only the girl’s father was able to make money off of. And because she was clearly pretty spoiled, that meant more stuff for her.

Side splitting, if I do say so.

And that’s what makes this show so good. The perfect use of irony. It utilizes irony in a manner that Family Guy can’t do without an at times irritating over use of “cutaway sequences”. I get the feeling this show is going to become the future of cartoon sitcoms.

 

 

New ways to spin Salinger’s legacy

I just read an interesting article in the New York Times of a somewhat successful (though perhaps not quite as much as the article is attempting to let on) actor and film director named Danny Strong who is set to put a film spin on the life of the late author J.D. Salinger.

You may know Salinger best as the writer of the famed Catcher in the Rhye and thereby the creator of the perhaps legendary Holden Caulfield. There was never a well read young brat that at one time or another didn’t compare his character and life situation to that Caulfield, and conversely never one who was accurate in such self flattery.

But not much is known to most people, even devoted readers of his work, about what Salinger’s own life was really like. This film will serve to revive some interest in the author in addition to the authored.

And while it’s a bit unfortunate to me that contemporary readers only became interested in Salinger’s work after his death in 2010, it’s best to sometimes employ the old maxim “better late than never.”