I don’t care for prequels. Never have. Even as a die-hard Star Trek fan from my grade school days, I barely noticed Enterprise. Tried it for the first season or so, then let it die in terms of my attention. And not just because the first season was kind of crummy. Heck, except for the original series all the first seasons were kind of crummy, and you can’t really tag adjectives like crummy onto the original series because it was a product of its own special time and place. (Note here that I’m discussing what a lot of people, including me, consider the “real” Star Trek, not the more modern dreck of the last several years.
Same with Smallville. I made it through almost a season on that, then gave it up. Besides the other issues I had with it, as a native Kansan it didn’t help my suspension of disbelief when they were showing cliffs and waterfalls in Kansas. And Gotham? Made it about three eps in on that one. As soon as the balloon-vigilante-killer guy showed up, I was done.
The biggest issue I have with prequels is in the very notion. After all, by definition you already know how things will eventually turn out. So what’s the point? Where’s the suspense or drama when you know how the story ends up? Where’s the excitement? Other than laughing at waterfalls in Kansas.
But with every rule there’s an exception. And as far as I’m concerned, the poster child for how prequels are supposed to be done, darn it, has to be Better Call Saul. With Saul, not only do you eventually know how the story turns out, the first several minutes of each season’s first episode reinforces that knowledge. Now with the fifth season almost complete, it’s becoming really obvious just how the protagonist will eventually end up as the Saul we know from Breaking Bad. And you know what? It doesn’t matter a darned bit that the viewer knows all this.
Because it’s just done so bloody well.
One of the things I noticed early on in Saul’s run is that tonally it’s quite a bit different than Breaking Bad, and I assumed that was the reason it worked for me when all other prequels haven’t. There was enough distance in terms of style from its predecessor that it could stand on its own. But last week’s episode, “Bagman,” was closer in look and tone to BB than any other episode I can think of, and it still serves as a standout episode, not to mention a really intimidating one at that.
To show how much I’m into this series I got sidetracked and missed last Monday’s initial showing, so I had to get up about 3:30 this morning to catch it. Not the first time I’ve had to do so.
And it was so worth the missed sleep.
As I get older, I find that entrenched views I once had are no longer so entrenched. I once considered a dog under about forty pounds as not a “real” dog, and the last few years I’ve changed my mind on that. I used to love Cadbury Crème Eggs at Easter time, and now the thought of all that sweetness turns my stomach. And I’m now beginning to reconsider my opinion on prequels and may even be willing to give a chance to others that pop up along the way. As long as they’re as well done as Saul.
Though all things considered, that may be a sucker’s bet.