The allure of “Better Call Saul”

A recent discussion about “Better Call Saul” evoked the “it’s good evil fun” comment from me.  There is a frisson, an owl-eyed  “slow motion train wreck” fascination to watching such shows: bad people doing bad things, trying to believe they are good…and the fact that there is no absolute line.   I’ve seen more than one social commentator suggest that NO businessperson can obey all the conflicting laws.   John D. MacDonald suggested that this is a form of social control: if you don’t stay in line, “they” can always get you for SOMETHING.   That means that, by someone’s definition, you are ALWAYS in the wrong.  So every successful person breaks someone’s rules: legal, moral, social, SOMETHING.   Impossible to do otherwise.  And if you break enough of the wrong ones…society comes down on you.    And watching Micheal Corleone try to convince himself that he is a good man is indeed a queasy joy.  And listening to people excusing his behavior just tells me where the moral rules are in THEIR lives.    It’s fun. Good, evil fun.


If I could enjoy “Dexter” (and I did, until the last couple of years) and “Breaking Bad” (and did, immensely)  I can enjoy “Better Call Saul”.  Morally, he is superior to Walter White (I’m not sure he’s superior to Dexter Morgan, however…) and part of my interest in “Breaking Bad” was the fans who kept excusing his behavior…and excusing it and excusing it, even as the creators gave you every indication that this man had gone to the dark side.    He is incredibly intelligent, and yet never let himself understand that he COULD NOT control the consequences of his actions.   Innocent children are murdered, but it isn’t his fault.   Planes BLOW UP and rain body parts from the sky, but how could he have anticipated?  He is offered free medical care and turns it down.  Watches a girl choke to death without acting…poisons an innocent child…has more money than he can spend, and keeps going.  His actions lead to the death of people he loves and who trusted him…oops.

Intelligence is pattern recognition.    This “brilliant” man never put it together that Chaos prevented him from ever, ever putting the genie back in the bottle.  Sure he knew.   But as I quoted Upton Sinclair recently, you can’t “get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”  Or wake up someone pretending to be asleep.


And the fans kept excusing it.   Man, that tells me all I need to know about the lies we tell and accept from others as truth.   It wasn’t until the last episode when WW admitted that he was doing it for the power and ego.  That the trail of destruction he’d left behind him was indeed his fault.    And people STILL defended him.  Oh, hell, people empathize with Macbeth, too. No prob.  But human evil is fascinating.   Saul, Walter White’s drug-money laundering lawyer,  has a soul.  How tarnished it will become we’re going to find out.  But his struggle and journey is ours.


Classic tragedy is the fall of a powerful, capable human being.  We watch them make the wrong choices, and see the consequences, and feel the pain.  It is a social ritual: see?  This is what we are.  See?  This is what can happen if you don’t have a moral compass higher than the conflicting social rules.  Yes, no matter what, SOMEONE will believe you made the wrong choices, and if those people have power they can destroy your body–so be careful of your soul.


The “Ancient Child” meditation was created to assist with this conflict.    First, love yourself, without reservation.  Next, connect to your image of yourself as an innocent child deserving of love, support and protection. Swear to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to protect that “child.”


And the last major step: connect with your “Elder shield”, the “ancient” part of you.  Beyond all ego, guilt, blame, shame, need to compete or strive or please others.  About to step into the Mystery, with the greatest clarity of your life about what is actually important.  “Say my name” is irrelevant–names are labels.   Roles are masks.

Let the “child” and “ancient” aspects talk to each other.  Put the “adult” in neutral. The result is astonishing.  You will get answers to the most important questions in life (“what is true?” “who am I?”) that your conscious mind could never devise or admit.


What is true?  Walter White finally connected with what was true.  If that truth had been on the table from the beginning, dozens, perhaps hundreds of people wouldn’t have died.

What will happen to Jimmy/Saul? We already know aspects of his journey.  What we wonder is: will Saul keep his Soul?    Will Michael Corleone see what he is in time to avoid hell, private or eternal?   Will Dexter Morgan manage to own his deep and passionate and wounded emotions while there is time to have a life?

Will we?




theancientchild, dotcom


One comment

  1. ” John D. MacDonald suggested that this is a form of social control: if you don’t stay in line, “they” can always get you for SOMETHING. ”

    Ayn Rand made the same point, and R. A. Lafferty mentioned an interesting variant in “Dottie”, an obscure novel– it talks about prejudice against Catholics in medical school (I’m not sure what era). He said that no one could graduate without getting favors from the university, so all that was needed to keep someone from graduating was to not bend the rules for them.


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