This review of Better Call Saul contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 2 Episode 2
Breaking Bad got to my stomach. During its breakneck string of final episodes the AMC drama could crawl right inside of my skin, tap into my gut, and weigh me down with dread. Entertainment can make you anxious, uncomfortable, but nothing like that; that show elicited feelings unparalleled, it was electric, it was visceral.
Better Call Saul creates a different kind of feeling. I feel a twinge in my chest, and I’m pretty sure I’m too young to be having some sort of heart problem. That pit in my stomach now feels more like doomed butterflies fluttering through their last breaths. With Breaking Bad, it was the not knowing, with Saul, it’s the knowing too much.
Jimmy can steal kisses in the parking garage, gain confidence from a reassuring hand on his knee, and can share spare pie in bed, but there’s a reason that that “World’s 2nd Best Lawyer” mug doesn’t fit in the Mercedes cup holder. By the time Walter White walks into Saul Goodman’s office, we know that Kim Wexler will be nowhere to be found, and maybe more importantly, neither will Jimmy McGill. After hustling through season one, Jimmy has been endeared to me, so naturally I’m rooting for him to succeed and enjoy happiness, knowing all along that somehow he’s going to piss it away and be the crook that he’s destined to become. Prequels are inherently fatalistic, I guess, but I just didn’t get that sinking feeling last season that I’m starting to feel now.
Luckily, it’s not all dark clouds on the horizon because the show has a pretty deft handle on humor. Breaking Bad was always a little funny, especially in its early days, but Jimmy’s cons are starting to become more imaginative and sidesplitting. Mark Proksch is doing an admirable job as Daniel Wormald, AKA Pryce, but his performance as a dimwitted crook with misplaced focus feels too similar to Fargo to the point of being distracting.
Thankfully, the proceedings get much funnier the minute Wormald leaves the room, and Jimmy starts spilling about his “art patron videos.” “Squat Cobbler” would have been this season’s “Chicago Sunroof” if Jimmy hadn’t immediately followed it up with twelve other funnier synonyms and variations, including “Cry Baby Squat.” Pure gold.
The episode’s tenser moments worked equally as well. Chuck’s time on screen was all a bit fascinating. Possibly falling victim to Hamlin’s plan, a status update on Jimmy that reveals that he’s working at Davis & Mane, Chuck ends up willing himself back to the office to “bear witness.” The Chuck sighting works like a trigger, making Jimmy relapse into his Slippin’ ways, immediately accepting a job from Mike that leads to him fabricating evidence. When he reveals the move to Kim, she instantly falls out of the daze she was in, no longer talking about sharing a smoker, firmly putting down a line that we know that Jimmy will cross.
These personal storylines are fulfilling enough, but I am interested to see how the drug world will rear its head into Jimmy’s life again. Nacho said that his and Pryce’s business was concluded, but we know damn well that it can’t be that easy, and I’m sure Mike, and by extension. Another lingering thought is what if Kim is right, and fabricating evidence will be enough to endanger Jimmy’s cushy new gig? Would that be the dramatic push Jimmy would need into the deep end? It’s only the second episode of season two, but we know that it’s coming.
The Best of the Rest
- I love the shot of Kim at the conference table, frantically writing, as Jimmy isn’t moving an inch, then panned down to see Kim’s foot moving closer to Jimmy’s under the table.
- Jimmy doesn’t want horses because he worries about the price of oats.
- Even though Kim is clearly turned on by Jimmy’s newfound success, she’s still competitive and a little jealous, proving that her job is definitely her primary focus.
- Goodbye to the Suzuki Esteem, we hardly knew ye.
- Cliff (Ed Begley Jr.) totally seems like a great, laidback boss and has got real chops on that guitar.
- Mike visiting Nacho at work was a classic Breaking Bad shakedown. Mike uses Nacho’s fear of Tuco as leverage to get Pryce’s baseball cards back, but Mike promises Nacho plenty of money in return. To be continued, I suppose…
- Nacho describes Pryce’s tacky Hummer “a school bus for 6-year-old pimps.”
- Chuck tells the office to pretend he’s not there after making them all remove their cell phones and other electronics from the room, and turn off all the lights. Yeah, you’re pretty anonymous, buddy.
- Kim’s rocking a University of American Samoa sweatshirt, Jimmy’s fictional alma mater.