Giancarlo Esposito

Gianlo Esposito as , the least interesting cher on 'Better C Saul'.

Im: er// Pictures Tele

Four sons in, Better C Saul has proven, in many ways, to be an even better show – more complicated, more wrenching, more e – than its pecessor. That’s no sm feat, conring Breaking is one of the most well-regded shows in recent .

But even shows have their missteps, and Better C Saul‘s biggest one is .

Fring’s back… unfortunately

As a Breaking fan favorite, Fring descended upon Better C Saul with tons of hype. Indeed, the entirety of son 2 had been building up to his rival – the episode titles turned out to be a puzzle spelling “FRING’S BACK,” and that son closed with an anonymous note to Mike that but confirmed Fring would be swinging by the Saul line

Then, when Fring finy rived in son 3, he quickly got to doing what he does best. He presented himself as a -abiding pill of the while eerting his conrable influence in the . He made incibly meticulous rangements for a “superlab” that would be used by Walt and s in , and alternately ed and threatened like Mike and Nacho.

the while, he played five-dimensional in order to en his slow-burn revenge agnst Hector Salamanca. It wasn’t Gus who gave Hector the that would nely kill him, but Saul reveals that it was Gus who ensu Hector would never fully recover from it. 

In short, this was Gus ely as we k and d him in : ruthless, cunning, precise. The problem is, Better C Saul isn’t Breaking , and what ed then isn’t ing anymore. So f at least, Saul hasn’t figu out how to recalibrate Gus for this contet.

Gus is a mystery that’s already been solved

Gus Fring

, Gus, but k it’s true.

Im: er// Pictures Tele

By , Gus is one of the most mysterious chers in the entire /Saul . His persona is a efully constructed façade, his criminal endeavors a means to some secretive end. That’s pt of what made him so terrifying on . In contrast to our “heroes” Walt and Jesse, whose hets we k too well, Gus seemed unkable and tfore unbeatable. 

On Saul, though, we k ely who Gus is. We k what he is or isn’t capable of, and what he’s rey after, and how that struggle is going to end up. The mystery’s been solved, and pretty satisfily at that.

The thing to do, then, would be to complicate Gus the way the show has Jimmy or Mike. Who k that sleazy Saul Goodman was once sweet Jimmy McGill? Or that Mike was capable of the vulnerability he’s shown Stacey? Pt of the fun (and hetbreak) of Saul is seeing how much more t was to chers we we already k.

Gus, , remns simple. He’s ely the same vengeance-obsessed guy he was in , only sly nger. If he has any hidden depths worth eploring, if he offers any fresh angles into the nature of obsession, if t’s anything else to him that’s worth king at , the show hasn’t hinted at them. 

isn’t the same thing as insight

Saul does give us more s about Gus. We len more about his place in ’s criminal under, how ely he manipulated Hector’s , even what kind of fruit tree he had growing up. But none of those additional detls have the weight of ual insight. None of them reveal anything about Gus that we didn’t already k

With Gus, Saul fs victim to that worst pitf of prequels: the assumption that is inntly interesting. If Saul occasiony leans a bit too hd on connections to its pent show (did we rey need an origin for Hector’s bell?), Gus is the show fing on them with a thud. 

Since we’re not gning any understanding of him or his , even the biggest reveals feel rote. I wouldn’t necessily have guessed that Gus ed put Hector in that wheelchr, but I can’t say I was pticully shocked to find out, either. 

Oh, Gus as a tortu an for ing his fruit? And he’s monologuing about it to a bedridden Hector? What a for me to go grab a snack. Not even Gianlo Esposito is capable of selling that as more than the eight hundth reer that is a ous and vengeful mfucker. Without contet or a perspective, it’s just added noise.

Gus is more plot than cher

Netflix

Gus has more in common with those props than he does that man.

Im: er// Pictures Tele

Nevertheless, Gus continues to get scenes like that because Gus is supd to be a cher in the . Only he doesn’t behave like a cher. He’s more like a machine. 

He’s t to move ound the chers and get them w they need to be – Mike in his employ, Nacho ensna in tel , Hector in the nursing . He’s not the only one on the show who functions this way. The Cousins e basicy weapons. But they’re used spingly, brought in to add some spice to turn up the . We’re not epected to think too hd about them. 

Gus, though, we spend conrable with, and in that , he never demonstrates anything like a personality. He’s caught in a pictable cycle of inputs and outputs: Someone rses a problem, and Gus spits out a move for the ual in the cast to ry out. I assume that when no one else is ound, Gus just turns off the way an idle computer monitor might. 

He’s simply an obstacle to be clea by the chers we e about – and one we k can’t be completely defeated, because he needs to thrive enough to terrorize Walt and Jesse on

The good s is, Gus still has possibilities

guably, Gus needs to be on Saul because he’s clely a key figure in Mike’s pre- , and probably play a role in whatever becomes of Nacho. But if the guy needs to stick ound, it’s high the show ed for ways to epand our understanding of the cher. 

It wouldn’t even necessily need to give up Gus’s single-edness. Saul could and should into what Gus’s obsession means, not just what it is. What has Gus given up in his quest? Who might he be if he weren’t so consumed by it? What is it like for him to a so singully focused? Is it lonely and empty, or is it satisfying in its own twisted way? 

It’s Gus, usuy so f a of the chers, caught up to the rest of them. 

Heck, at this point, I’d settle for a scene of Gus settling down for a night alone with his Netfli account. What do think this guy even does when he’s not ively scheming agnst the Salamancas? Is he capable of emotions than vindictive satision and c fury? 

That Saul ently hasn’t rey con those questions seems like a missed , and a surprising one for a show that’s seemed set on ecavating every nook and cranny of its chers’ souls. (Not to mention a trdy for Esposito, who continues to give this once- cher his .) 

Perhaps it’s out of some misguided reluctance to let go of the enigmatic iciness that defined Gus for so . Or possibly this show is playing some I just can’t see yet, and I’ll see in the end that Gus’s awfulness was be .

I k is that as it stands , the is the show we fea Saul would be when it was announced – coasting on an unimpeachable legacy and a famous name, unable or uning to get out from under the shadow of its pecessor. 

Saul, in the past four sons, has become so much more than just “that Breaking prequel.” It’s Gus, usuy so f a of the chers, caught up to the rest of them. 

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