BETTER CALL SAUL Season 5 Premiere Spoiler-Free Review; "[It] Remains a Worthy Follow-Up To BREAKING BAD"

Better Call Saul returned to AMC for its season five premiere last night, but as the series nears its end, did this opening episode set the stage for a must-see finale? Find our verdict after the jump...

Better Call Saul has faced Breaking Bad comparisons from the start, but that was inevitable when the series serves as both a prequel and sequel to arguably the greatest TV show of all-time. While it's certainly rivalled and sometimes surpassed that since first debuting in 2015, the consistently entertaining spinoff has always been good fun, but occasionally a little hit and miss. Well, its been firing on all cylinders over the past couple of years, and this strong opening episode in the penultimate season lays the foundations for what looks to be an unmissable year of television. 

Kicking off with a lengthy flash-forward to the present day, the stakes are now higher than ever as the opening few minutes show us a Jimmy McGill whose past is finally beginning to catch up with him. Still attempting to escape the shadows of both Walter White and Saul Goodman, Jimmy is in a dark place, and it looks like he may be about to reach the point of no return to protect his new life. In the past, however, he's riding high with his new moniker and quickly becoming the shady lawyer we first met in Breaking Bad

At this point, it should go without saying that Bob Odenkirk's work is phenomenal, and he continues to effortlessly make Jimmy/Saul an incredibly likeable presence. As Saul, he's doing things Jimmy never would have had the stomach for, and it's fascinating to watch his two very different sides wrestle for control. Rhea Seehorn's Kim Wexler is another highlight, and her story arc this year looks set to take her down a path every bit as morally dubious as Jimmy's as his influence continues rubbing off on her in all the wrong ways. Slightly less interesting in this premiere is the Mexican cartel subplot, and while Giancarlo Esposito and Jonathan Banks remain as compelling as ever, Better Call Saul needs to stop dragging that out and start upping the ante in order to make it as interesting as the actors and characters it revolves around. Bringing Gus Fring into the series was a smart move, but it's beginning to feel like something that might have happened a little too soon. 

Still there's no denying that even after five years, watching Jimmy become Saul remains as fascinating as ever. The premiere - titled "Magic Man" - perfectly sets the stage for what is already shaping up to be one of the seasons yet, and it's never not going to be a thrill returning to this world (especially after the stellar El Camino). It immediately becomes clear that this isn't simple filler heading into the show's sixth and final season, and though it's still too soon to tell whether the next nine episodes can keep this momentum going, we're already hooked. 

The consistently excellent Better Call Saul still has a little too much filler, but the series remains a worthy follow-up to Breaking Bad, and "Magic Man" points to this penultimate season setting the stage for a must-see final two years. 

IF
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