More than any other season of this spin-off show, this is the one where Jimmy McGill starts to disappear and be replaced by Saul Goodman. He’s still not quite at Breaking Bad level yet, but seeing more than ever this disintegration of one identity and the forming of a new one is a marvel to watch. The show does wonders with this character, though it seems at some expense of others.
Going by the new name for his lawyer profession, Saul (Bob Odenkirk) is getting into more illicit shenanigans than before. This turn for Saul sees him dealing with the kind of on-the-streets clients that he’ll end up representing in Breaking Bad, and his twisty intelligence and charisma makes him appealing to that crowd. But the captivating essence of this season is how this change in character affects his romantic relationship with fellow lawyer Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) – they’ve never seemed so far apart, yet they paradoxically use this distance to bring themselves closer to teach each other from their opposite perspectives.
But where the Goodman-Wexler relationship develops, the secondary plot involving the true criminals of this series is more stagnant than previous seasons. The momentum of Season Four’s big plot involving the development of the underground super-lab is suddenly removed, with what seems like a whole new drug-dealing objective in its place.
Some of these characters have to wait until they get going in this season, making the later episodes more memorable for them. Handy-man Mike (Jonathan Banks) seems to be going about business as usual, until he’s giving a shining moment in Episode 8 Bagman, where his relationship with Saul is strengthened, though through a tortuously physical manner.
Nacho (Michael Mando) also has a waiting time before he really starts to come through in this season. Previously he seemed to have a consistent agency in how the plot developed through the season, but this time he’s treated more like a pawn, especially by new cartel hot-shot Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton). He manages to work within the system he’s got caught up in, but he sure does take his time.
Now running as many seasons as Breaking Bad, the evolution of this title character has been as consistently mesmerising as that of Walter White’s, with Saul now navigating the uncomfortable path towards his comfort zone as a lawyer, all the while made even more in-depth with Kim’s deeply embedded connection to him. Although this has put other significant characters on auto-pilot (at least until the more dramatic and thrilling last few episodes), Vince Gilligan and co. are filling our screens with at least two transfixing characters.