Better Call Saul resumed its focus this week on the future Saul Goodman for a slower, yet still largely satisfying episode of the freshman series. Last week was a welcomed detour into the neo-noir world of Mike Ehrmantraut, but it was time to return to the trials, pun intended, of Jimmy McGill and close the book on the Kettleman chapter of the story.
The Kettleman storyline has served as good material for the show thus far as the series distinguishes itself from Breaking Bad by showing a different, more white collar side of the crime world that’s still not light on its larger than life personalities. Take deluded, suburban nightmare Betsy Kettleman for instance, who drags her meek, bumbling embezzler husband further into the mud as she refuses to swallow her pride and take a deal. Her passionate denial of her dire situation is just as compelling as any criminal on Saul’s parent series.
The man at the center of the series is plenty compelling as well. We know Jimmy McGill loses the faith somewhere along the way, but to watch him so desperately attempt to do the right thing weekly has been an entertaining struggle. Perhaps his high road approach with the Kettlemans, having Mike recover their stolen money and forcing them into a plea deal, is a response to Chuck’s improvement. We already know that Jimmy feels directly responsible for his brother’s odd, debilitating condition. So, witness how thrilled Jimmy gets in this episode when he learns Chuck is taking baby steps to recovery. Chuck has seen the realities of his situation when he was almost arrested, and he knows he must get back into the world. Jimmy leaves Chuck’s feeling optimistic about the situation.
What’s heartbreaking still is that even after Jimmy succeeds in doing the right thing with the Kettlemans, including helping Kim get her clients back, he still isn’t satisfied, throwing a temper tantrum in the office he was hoping to move into by using the $30,000 from the Kettlemans that he was forced to return. Maybe that’s because in doing the right thing, while helping Kim, it also solidified that she would stay at HHM.
Jimmy asks Kim to join him practicing elder law, which she declines, believing that she is two years away from partnership with HHM. However, when she loses the Kettlemans as clients, it decreases her standing with Hamlin, which Kim believes sets her back years on her road to partnership. Jimmy does the right thing in helping her get back in Hamlin’s good graces, but it’s interesting to wonder what could have happened if Jimmy decided to take the Kettlemans on as his first criminal clients, keeping his money and possibly luring Kim to join him.
Currently, the nature of Jimmy and Kim’s relationship is still unclear. They’re obviously close and spend a lot of time together, but things haven’t once gotten physical — they’ve barely even gotten intimate. Clearly, Jimmy goes out of his way to improve Kim’s opinion of him, and one can take his proposal for law partnership as a move towards partnership of a different kind. Whether they are together or not, Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn have outstanding chemistry together that makes all of their interactions pop.
Jimmy keeps doing the right thing, but it so far hasn’t generated the greatest results, and at the end of this episode, it appears to leave him just as unfulfilled as we found him in episode one. How much longer until Jimmy’s moral compass points him to the persona of Saul Goodman? Because it seems certain that Jimmy is going to grow tired to kicking inanimate objects out of frustration very soon.