A Twisty, Tense Return [Tribeca]

Unsurprisingly, “Better Call Saul” delivers. It delivers in shocks, in action-packed scenes, in quiet moments of self-disgust and regret, in impeccably performed scenes that will have you bemoaning the fact that the cast of “Better Call Saul” continues to be snubbed by the Emmys. And it delivers in scenes that will have you very worried for Rhea Seehorn’s Kim Wexler, but what’s new?

Written by Gordon Smith (in his last episode of the series) and directed by Vince Gilligan, the midseason finale of “Better Call Saul” features several clever rug-pulls and shocking resolutions that are the culmination of what we’ve seen being laid out over the past season. Tony Dalton takes center stage for much of this episode, in an hour that sees Lalo Salamanca fully evolved into that terrifying crime-lord boogeyman that we’ve only seen in glimpses throughout the season, even as he loomed over the minds of every character – especially that of Gus Fring (an always terrific Giancarlo Esposito), whose back remains against the wall.

Characters connect and clash in ways both satisfying and terrifying, while our two leads – and let’s be honest, emotional core – Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk, managing to eke out a few moments of levity in an unbearably tense episode) and Kim Wexler remain obviously out of their depths. The other standout of the episode is also, unsurprisingly, Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, whose careful planning and security measures over the past season are tested – as is his patience and his remorse over his ever-degenerating moral code. But the episode has quite a few characters furiously treading water as the tides that have come of their actions threaten to drown them all.

Now that I’ve got the water metaphors out of the way (again, this is all I can do to avoid spoilers), I will reiterate again, “Better Call Saul” doesn’t disappoint. And it remains one of the most cinematically satisfying shows on TV, with Gilligan even throwing in a few visual tricks and flairs that serve to ramp up the tension even more. But with a midseason finale this intense, I can only imagine that things are going to get darker and more troubling from here.

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