Better Call Saul Season 6 Review: One Of The Best Shows On TV Unleashes An Unbearably Tense Final Season

How did Jimmy McGill become Saul Goodman? That's the question "Better Call Saul" has been asking from the get-go: how did a bumbling, morally grey, but seemingly well-meaning guy become the full-blown criminal attorney (emphasis on the criminal) we first met in "Breaking Bad"? For five seasons now, the prequel series has deliberately paced out the answers, like a tight valve being slowly turned, releasing pressure along the way. The result: one of the best shows on TV. A series choked with impeccable style and unbearable tension. And the tension is at its highest going into the show's sixth, and final, season.

It is to the credit of all involved in "Better Call Saul" that the show can have us consistently on edge even though we already know how things end. Kind of. We know that certain characters will survive; they have to — they were alive during "Breaking Bad." And yet, there remains a palpable dread layered into the series. Because there are those characters, like the wonderful, complex Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn, who continues to give a remarkable performance that certain awards bodies continue to bizarrely overlook), whose fate is a mystery. And then there's Jimmy himself. He's already operating as Saul Goodman, but he's not quite there yet. He's not quite the same low-life crook with no moral compass we met in "Breaking Bad." As season 6 begins, Jimmy's doom is at hand. But he's still clinging on to some semblance of righteousness. And yet, in the cruelest twist of fate, it might be Kim who finally pushes him over the edge.

For the majority of the show, Kim has been a kind of conscience for Jimmy. She's been aware of his less-than-admirable traits, but she's remained committed to him. Hell, she even married Jimmy — although the marriage is more about stopping Kim from ever testifying than it is for romance. That's not to say Kim doesn't love Jimmy, though. She clearly does. And as the show has revealed time and time again, it's not easy to be close to Jimmy. All this time, there's been a considerable worry that Jimmy would finally bring Kim down to his level. And perhaps he finally has. But, interestingly enough, the show has thrown a wrench into our assumptions by revealing that Kim might actually like being on Jimmy's level. She's enticed by his scheming lifestyle. And now she wants in on that action. She wants to ruin their old boss, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), and she even has a plot cooked up — a plot she mentioned last season. Jimmy seems ready to let any talk of "getting" Howard go. But not Kim. Kim wants blood. And she's not the only one courting danger. There's the whole criminal underworld side of the show, as drug lord and fast-food chain owner Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) attempts a power-play against the Salamancas. 

Great TV

Season 5 concluded with Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) working with Fring to help remove the odious, creepy, and suspicious Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton, still stealing scenes while making us all uneasy) by letting a team of mercenaries into Lalo's compound. But Lalo proved exceedingly difficult to kill — and Nacho is now in an incredibly dire spot. He needs help, but can't find it — not even from the usually helpful Mike (Jonathan Banks). The series continues to have some difficulty tying the drug-running elements with Jimmy, and in the first two episodes given to critics, they remain fairly far removed. But the seeds have been planted. Jimmy is connected to all of these people, and nothing good can come of that. We're waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And that's true of the series as a whole. These first two episodes are almost unbearably tense. Every scene is loaded with double, or sometimes triple meaning. We watch on edge, biting our nails, bouncing our legs, concerned about practically everyone and everything. This is no small feat — to hook an audience on a foregone conclusion and pull us along the way, helpless to resist. It is the power of the show's impeccable writing, masterful direction, and cavalcade of brilliant performances that keeps us addicted. Bob Odenkirk remains at the center of it all, and it really cannot be overstated how great Odenkirk is on this series; how he evolved from a supporting comic relief player into a full-blown dramatic leading man. Jimmy is still scheming, but there's a sadness present now. Perhaps it's the realization that the end is near; that the days of Jimmy McGill are all but over, and Saul Goodman will soon be in complete command. 

The fact that the show continues to be so well crafted only heightens the power. Every frame of "Saul" remains a masterclass in composition. Here is a TV series that can make a shot of a pitcher of lemonade on a kitchen table resemble fine art. The story remains awash in orange-tinted shadows; in hot desert days and neon-drenched nights. There's a weight to the visuals here; every shot, even glance, every close-up, feels loaded. Ominous. Threatening. And slow, subtle moments are violently punctured by blasts of violence, staged in sequences that put most modern action movies to shame. It will be sad to let the brilliance of "Better Call Saul" go, but it's already abundantly clear that the series is going to stick the landing, and conclude in a manner that will firmly ensconce "Better Call Saul" in the pantheon of all-time-great TV. 

"Better Call Saul" season 6 premieres with two back-to-back episodes on Monday, April 18, 2022, on AMC and AMC+.