On the latest premiere of this wonderful series, Chuck played cat and mouse with Jimmy, while Mike did the same with an unknown enemy (who is almost assuredly someone we know all too well).
That's right, the brilliance continued on Better Call Saul Season 3 Episode 1, as the sad, slow decline of sad sack Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman progressed.
The present day opener with "Gene" even boasted a cliffhanger of sorts.
His instincts as a lawyer took over after he ratted out the kid thief, but him passing out back at the Omaha Cinnabon was a total shock.
They'd better pay that off soon: I need to know what happens to Gene!
Say nothing, you understand? Get a lawyer-get a lawyer!Gene
Bob Odenkirk is so wonderful in this role. Nobody does the hang-dog look better, and he conveys so much with a mournful look or a darting eye than most actors can do with their entire body.
He does not get nearly enough credit for his dramatic chops. We know he's amazing with comedy, but his quiet, desperate moments are something to behold.
When it began, I really didn't know what to expect with the story arc of this prequel, but Vince Gilligan has again created a masterful character study of a man's slow, inexorable destruction.
A death by 1,000 cuts is much more painful than one deadly strike, and we see every psychic slice that turns "Slipping Jimmy," the man with a good heart who cuts corners, into the morally bankrupt Saul Goodman in cold, unblinking fashion.
In my mind, Chuck is the real bad guy here. Michael McKean does a great job as Chuck, as he has the "smile at you while he stabs you in the back" act down cold.
His abject hatred of his own brother is difficult to understand. Simple jealousy doesn't seem like enough of a motivation. But added to that, his feeling that Jimmy didn't pay his dues as a lawyer is probably more on the mark.
Hatred of a sibling can be the the most intense hate of all, and it looks like he will stop at nothing to bring Jimmy down once and for all.
Jimmy, don't think I'll ever forget what happened here today. And you WILL pay.Chuck
In a word, Chuck is a bastard.
I REALLY don't like the character, and that's a good thing.
He is the big bad in Jimmy's life right now, and McKean is knocking it out of the park.
As a matter of fact, all the characters here are amazing. There isn't a weak performance in the bunch, from the leads to the smallest bit players.
I also love the relationship between Jimmy and Kim.
So many of their feelings are passed with little glances and other small things you may not notice, but mean a lot.
When Jimmy tells Kim about his altercation with Chuck, the air is rife with tension, and the look she gives Jimmy after he vents his feelings to her is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
Kim: Are you mad?
Jimmy: I'm not mad-I'm just thinking about things. For 10 minutes today Chuck didn't hate me. I forgot what that felt like.
Rhea Seehorn is a wonder as Kim Wexler and should get some serious Emmy love for her fantastic performance.
Her obsessive, perfectionist mindset was perfectly framed when she agonized over whether to punctuate a sentence with a semi colon, a period, or a comma. Brilliant.
This show is all about small moments. It's the little things in life that often have the most long-lasting impact, and Gilligan shows those moments better than any showrunner going.
The depth and attention to detail exhibited here are wonderful. Example: the book "Gene" is reading in the present day scene is "The Moon is a Balloon," the memoir by actor David Niven.
But the title reminded me of a poem by E.E. Cummings, where the balloon takes you to a city where all the pretty people live, everyone is in love, and the flowers pick themselves.
That rings true: Saul mourns his present circumstance and dreams of a better life, just like the rest of us.
OMG guys, I still haven't talked about my favorite character, Mike, yet!
His scenes were VERY Breaking Bad: pulse pounding, action packed, and full of tension.
I've said for years Jonathan Banks deserves an Emmy for his portrayal of the world-weary bulldog Mike, and he'd better get consideration after all the great work he's done on both shows.
Literally tearing his car apart to find the tracker was unbelievable, and it shows how smart he is about finding out who he's dealing with.
He knew his unknown enemy was a step ahead, but he took care of that in a hurry by getting his own tracker.
All the signs point to Gus Fring as the man behind the surveillance, but we haven't seen him yet. I assume that will change very soon.
The lengths Mike went to gain the upper hand was very impressive, and Banks clearly enjoys playing the damaged ex-cop to the hilt. Simply put, Banks is a marvel.
The story is already rolling, and I can't wait to see where Gilligan will take us in the future.
Tell me your thoughts: will Chuck succeed in bringing Jimmy down? How will Mike end up working with Fring after this rocky start? And how will Jimmy eventually lose Kim?
Sound off in the comments section.
And, of course, you can watch Better Call Saul online, right here on TV Fanatic!