Better Call Saul season 6 review: creeping toward an inevitable end

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman - Better Call Saul _ Season 6, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television
Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman - Better Call Saul _ Season 6, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television /

Better Call Saul returns for its sixth season in predictably strong form – another airtight entry into an already-impressive run that takes Saul, Kim, and the rest of the ABQ residents one step closer to their inevitable demises. 

After a two-year break, an on-set health scare, and the recent news that Walt and Jesse will, in fact, make a cameo appearance, AMC’s Better Call Saul has finally returned for the first half of its two-part final season. Though by now most loyal fans (or curious new viewers) will already be familiar with the show’s particular sense of aesthetics, airtight writing, and faultless performances, season six is yet another reminder that Better Call Saul has not only stepped out from under Breaking Bad‘s shadow but developed a confident identity as its own series chronicling the slow and steady demise of its protagonists.

Picking up in the wake of Jimmy’s (Bob Odenkirk) treacherous “Bagman” trek through the desert and the attack on Lalo’s (Tony Dalton) hacienda, season six of Better Call Saul knows just how close it is to the events of Breaking Bad, and unlike earlier seasons, has no qualms when it comes to constantly reminding its viewers how unlikely it is that any of our favorite characters will make it out unscathed. Between Nacho’s increasingly perilous situation, Mike’s growing guilt, and Kim’s unlikely descent into the ways of Slippin’ Jimmy, the connective tissue for season six seems to be bad decisions – and unfortunately for our heroes, the season premiere is chock full of them.

In a turn that would be almost unrecognizable for Kim in season one, season six picks up with Mrs. Goodman (Rhea Seehorn) full-on embracing Jimmy’s less-than-legitimate tactics in her attempts to dismantle the life and reputation of their former employer, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian). Though in the season finale, even Jimmy seemed a little off-put by Kim’s sudden interest in troublemaking, but once we pick up with them again, the two are (quite literal) partners in crime – in one of the premiere’s most bizarre (and memorable) sequences, we watch as Kim keeps lookout while Jimmy gets naked, plans cocaine in Howard’s locker, and causes a scene at a ritzy golf club – complete with claims that he was thrown out over antisemitism.

The bizarre antics are the perfect reminder of the level of chicanery that Jimmy (and the show) is capable of, but this time, there’s a more sobering note as well – Kim is now in the picture. Though she isn’t exactly negotiating bail for drug lords (yet), it’s still unsettling to see her so ecstatic about committing the sort of immature crimes that she once looked down on Jimmy for – and not only that but taking notes for the next time and trying to figure out ways to make their plans more devious.

It’s an interesting role reversal that was teased towards the end of season 5 – that Jimmy would eventually become the one bringing Kim back from the edge, not vice versa – and it seems as if season six is fully interested in continuing the thread and seeing how it plays out. The shift in their dynamics is also the perfect way not just to keep the characters fresh and engaging as we head into the show’s final season, but also an opportunity for Rhea Seehorn in particular to let loose and bring out a side of Kim that has stayed mostly tucked away until this point.

There’s a fierceness and a kind of borderline cruelty to Kim’s scheming that makes her a more formidable enemy in some ways than Jimmy, and much of that intimidation factor can be credited to Seehorn’s performance – a turn that doesn’t lose sight of who Kim is at her core, but also one that embraces her darker side, her more impulsive nature, and utilizes her wit and intelligence in a more malevolent way. When Seehorn gets the mischievous glint in her eye that says she means business, it invokes a strange sort of melancholy – the knowledge that the woman who once stood as Jimmy’s moral compass is finally slipping into darkness herself.

Also falling further and further into an unsavory situation is Nacho (Michael Mando) who is now fully in hiding and on the run after inadvertently revealing himself as Gus’ mole in the Salamanca organization, and pulling the trigger (so to speak) on the raid of Lalo’s hacienda. In the past, Nacho hasn’t always been the character with the most screen time or narrative significance, so it’s gratifying to see the writers give him so much attention, especially in the first two episodes of the season. Michael Mando, as always, brings the requisite tension to the role while also giving Nacho a warmth and humanity that ensures you’re rooting for him until the very end.

Another player squarely in Nacho’s corner is – at last – Mike, who has spent the past few seasons on the slow and steady journey towards re-developing his moral compass. Of all the returning Breaking Bad characters (outside of Jimmy, of course) Mike is perhaps the most well-utilized of the bunch: Jonathan Banks was certainly no slouch in his time on BrBa, but bringing Mike back for Better Call Saul gives us the chance to watch his sense of ethics develop in real-time, especially with Nacho’s no-win scenario.

Though at first, it seemed fairly clear that Mike was only interested in giving Nacho advice every now and then and was perfectly content to him get sucked into Gus and Lalo’s feud, the season six opener confirms what many fans have been suspecting – that Mike is more sympathetic to Nacho than he lets on – and this season, it looks like we’ll finally get to see somebody in Nacho’s corner that isn’t just taking advantage of him. Mike’s newfound empathy for Nacho hasn’t gone unnoticed, though – while Gus Brings role on the show is still one of Better Call Saul‘s weaker points, it does seem as if he’s picked up on Mike’s fondness for Nacho, which could spell trouble down the line.

Speaking of trouble, season six wastes no time lettings us know that Lalo knows exactly who helped set him up and that he’s out for blood. Ever since the charming drug lord sauntered onto our screens in season four, Tony Dalton has always been a scene-stealer. But the two-episode season premiere reminds us just how formidable of a dramatic actor he is: there’s a shot where we watch the charm bleed from Lalo’s face, replaced with pure fury, and the moment is perhaps the episode’s most unsettling, even without the brutality of the violence that takes place moments later.

With the cast and crew all continuing to rise to the occasion, Better Call Saul season six is yet another nearly flawless entry to the show’s already impressive run. From the changing dynamics of Kim and Jimmy’s relationship to the massive question mark that is Nacho’s fate, the series builds on its characters in new and exciting ways, making for a final season that pushes the characters we know and love to the brink – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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