Due to holidays and illness I've almost completed a binge re-watch of BB, EC and BCS.
What an achievement the whole thing is. Wonderful how different the shows are and yet they're complementary and fit together so beautifully.
At first BB seemed a bit comic-book and larger than life after getting used to the slow-burn, moving character work of BCS, but the story is so big and gripping, and the characters and performances are so good that I loved it all over again.
Prequels are usually so dull when they show the story of how some famous spaceship got its name, or turn a throwaway line of dialogue into a whole movie plot. BCS may show you how Saul gets his ring, his name, his inflatable Statue of Liberty. But rather than turn a bit of flavour into a stodgy bit of canon, they are either throwaway moments or they make something small into something wide and deep and moving. I would say a remarkable feature of the writing is how they manage to organically grow characters and storylines and drama from tiny beginnings. Names or actors in small roles or snatches of dialogue or loose ends are never forgotten, each little seed is put on an index card in the writer's room and turned into a rich seam of gold over many seasons. It becomes a beautifully self-contained little universe and it such a pleasure to binge on and live in it for a while.
It's been a little less tense this time around now I know every character's fate. There are some episodes in the last couple of seasons of BCS where it was almost unbearable how much they used the fact you knew some of these characters didn't turn up in BB against you.
But when you know where everybody started from and where they are going to, character arcs and actions make much more sense to me. I did lose my way a little bit first time around, what with the gaps between seasons. I couldn't quite remember exactly why Saul and Kim were doing the things they did to Howard. Sometimes when the Exit signs were in shot and they were taking another turning on a Bad Choice Road I'd be a bit puzzled. Normally I expect those things to be driven purely by plot: we are going against this guy because he did something bad to us that was clearly shown in the previous episode. But instead there are these flaps of the wings of butterflies that when they interact they become a whirlwind. And that's all stirred up by what's churning around inside Jimmy and Kim. What performances those two give. What a tragedy.
Anthony Hopkins wrote a wonderful letter to Bryan Cranston. Apparently he didn't like it being leaked, and won't write another. I hope that Rhea and Bob and everyone involved gets all the praise and recognition they deserve (even if the Emmy voters don't ever deliver a just verdict).
During the pandemic, getting to the end of this story seemed like a light at the end of the tunnel. It needed Bob to come back from the dead to make it happen.
What a wonderful thing it is.