Better Call Saul – A-
At the heart of the Vince Gilligan universe is choice, and the consequences of those big decisions. In the case of BCS — presuming we have watched Breaking Bad to completion — we know how these choices have effected Saul and Mike. One of the greatest misconceptions about Saul Goodman — whether as Jimmy McGill or Gene the forlorn Cinnabon manager — has always been the notion that he is a sociopath. In fact, at least in his pre-Saul days, he cares almost too deeply — about Sandpiper, about Kim, about his brother. Unfortunately, in his zeal to help, he tears down everything dear to him, and it’s this tragedy that “Gloves Off” conveys so affectingly. As he employs conman sleits to try and save Kim and shame Chuck, his brother observes that he’s like an “alcoholic,” but exactly what is wrapped around Jimmy’s heart is elusive and hazy. And even though viewers know it can’t be fixed and by 2008 the train will be fully wrecked, it’s impossible not to still somehow be compelled to give one’s soul completely to the idea he’s not consigned to a fate we’ve already seen, and that’s the power of BCS. Oh, there’s also some great honor-of-Mike-Ehrmentraut moments.
– Jason Thurston
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – A
Among the many problems with pretending your life is a romcom, as Rebecca, Paula, and many others do in this excellent offering of CXGF, is facing the reality that we all aren’t Kate Hudson or Ryan Reynolds. As Rebecca realizes as she sings a song which becomes more and more sinister, that she is actually the villain in Josh & Valencia’s love story, it’s as good a point as any to remind the audience that the protagonist we’ve been conditioned for whom to root, is in truth going through some degree of mental breakdown. And in “Josh and I Are Going To Hawaii,” reality pours into her light musical comedy heroine fantasy, and she is forced to come to terms with the fact that her grand gestures have made her broke, alienated friends, and led her to pawn her most treasured possession, all for the love of a man who doesn’t love her — at least not yet. But it’s not even that simple, as realizations abound, from Greg’s epiphany that he’s not the nice guy he tries to exude to Paula’s coming to grips that she’s not the movietime bestie with her friend’s best interests at heart to Josh noticing that while he loves Valencia, her glowing halo and yoga aura disguise a controlling nature that might not translate to a healthy love life.
– Jason Thurston