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Better Call Saul (#110 of 10)

Homeland Recap Season 5, Episode 5, "Better Caul Saul"

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Homeland Recap: Season 5, Episode 5, “Better Caul Saul”

Stephan Rabold/Showtime

Homeland Recap: Season 5, Episode 5, “Better Caul Saul”

Everything about this week’s episode of Homeland, “Better Call Saul,” suggests that the writers couldn’t restrain themselves from winking at audiences. To begin with, there’s its pop-culturally referent title, which calls a quite different series to mind. Then there’s the overly cute way in which the series appropriates the in-the-headlines “Je Suis Charlie” as “Je Suis Gabehcoud.” And then there’s the snarky way in which last week’s ramifications are recapped through lazy exposition: The day after the explosion, Allison (Miranda Otto) stands on the airport runway and tells Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) that “Someone betrayed us,” to which Dar Adal snaps back: “You think?”

2015 Emmy Winner Predictions

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2015 Emmy Winner Predictions

AMC

2015 Emmy Winner Predictions

The democratization of technology is a boon for globalization, but for anyone who ever felt an inkling of pleasure watching the Oscars, it’s become a blight to an institutional process that once made seemingly genuine attempts toward establishing even playing fields. Today, the Oscar season begins as soon as the curtain falls on the previous one. The full-time awards pundit predicts nominees, sometimes even winners, months before a film has even left the editing room (“Could it be two in a row for Eddie Redmayne?!”), the insta-reactionary-ness of Twitter trending films and people up or down like stocks. How good the work is matters less than how good one works a room, or how closely the work aligns with a cultural shift in imagination. Show up at a festival to promote your film, pretend to enjoy getting your picture snapped by a #blessed “industry expert,” thus securing their approval, and suddenly you’re a “lock.” At least that’s what said expert will report to their followers, who’ll slavishly lap up and spread the pundit’s hosannas for films sight unseen—a domino-like effect of readiness and willingness perpetuated by the studios with For Your Consideration campaigns.

Breaking Bad Recap Season 2, Episode 8, "Better Call Saul"

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Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 8, “Better Call Saul”

AMC

Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 8, “Better Call Saul”

“Better Call Saul” is the kind of episode that made me get interested in television in the first place. It’s not perfect, by any means, but it would be nauseatingly hilarious in one shot and then cut to another that would load on the unbearable tension. In so many ways, it’s a minor encapsulation of so many of the show’s major themes (from the idea that you can’t be just a little bit of a criminal to the thought that resisting temptation is so very, very hard), but it’s also a surprisingly fast-paced episode of the notoriously slow-moving series. The episode even manages to make famed comedian Bob Odenkirk seem like a part of its universe with a character who is both the sort of joke-y character he plays well and a necessary piece of the puzzle of Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) burgeoning criminal empire. Season two has been building to this. Hell, the SHOW has been building to this. We’re at a precipice, and the RV is pointed downhill. We just passed the point of no return.