Monday night was once uncharted territory for AMC. Though the company had established itself with Sunday night prestige dramas like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, much of its air-time, the other 6 days and 21 hours of the week, was devoted to old rerun movies. To compete like a real network, AMC had to begin to operate more than in just a single time slot. Many would have guessed that the Walking Dead, the network’s ratings beast, or the upcoming Dead spin-off, would have been the flagship series for Monday night expansion, not Better Call Saul, a series that was met with criticism based on the perceived notion that it would arrive as nothing more than a shade of its parent series.
But those notions were wrong, and AMC was justified to bank on the adventures of Jimmy McGill, because ratings are solid and the quality is just as high as that 99 percent purity that Walter White was cooking up. After wrapping up a solid first storyline, the series launched another tonight with Jimmy going to battle against Sandpiper retirement homes and their lawyers.
When Jimmy discovers that one of his elderly clients cannot pay him his fee, he learns that the woman is being overcharged and manipulated by her retirement home that is handling all of her bills and funds. After experiencing some difficulty obtaining shredded documents in a gross-out dumpster scene, Jimmy finds an invoice that shows that Sandpiper is dabbling in interstate commerce, getting them involved in possible racketeering allegations. The big, class action case will create good drama for the close of the season, but it’s not as interesting as the show’s smaller details.
Take for instance the show’s cold open, which shows a younger Jimmy as a mailroom worker at HHM. I love the way the series so openly plays with the timeline in these cold opens, shading our characters a bit more on a weekly basis. Here we learn new interesting facets about Jimmy, like the way he worked tirelessly to pass the bar while simultaneously working full-time. We also witness Chuck’s less than enthusiastic response to hiring Jimmy and Jimmy’s brutal rejection by Hamlin right in the middle of his celebration party, a scene we don’t even get to hear as its drowned out by the suffocating droning of office supplies in the mailroom. Jimmy’s had his ego bruised even more than we thought, and it’s sad because he’s actually putting in extreme effort, and he still continues to do so.
All of that flashback then makes Jimmy’s actual team-up with his brother all the more meaningful. It’s fun to watch Chuck knowingly get trapped into Jimmy’s Tom Sawyer-esque trap, and then actually enjoy getting back to work with his brother. Chuck may have sat stone-faced and petrified in the meeting with Sandpiper’s slimy lawyer, especially after he’s recognized and reminded of his past glory and promising career, but he snaps out of it to demand a staggering $20 million with authority.
He then gets so caught up working on the case that he absentmindedly leaves the house, forgetting all about his “disease.” When he realizes what he’s done, he stands in shock, suggesting that its possible he’s gotten all over everything. Maybe Chuck’s condition really is related to Jimmy’s endeavors, because watching Jimmy pick up clients and take down giants is what has led to Chuck’s biggest breakthrough yet. A rehabilitated Chuck could create some great new stories, because honestly, it’s hard to keep a character as strong as the one Michael McKean has created trapped in one location.
We get a little bit of Mike this week, after he’s called upon to babysit his granddaughter. It may seem like an innocent request for a favor, but it’s significant because it means his daughter-in-law trusts him to be around his granddaughter, even knowing all of the terrible things he had done. Mike witnesses the pair’s money issues, then decides to return to that shady veterinarian in search of work appropriate for a man of his skill set. Mike the Cleaner is born, folks.
Now how long do we have to wait for the birth of Saul Goodman? It will be interesting to see where the crash happens because, except for the cold open, everything seemed to be trending in the right direction for Jimmy McGill. Sometimes it can be nice to watch the protagonist prosper.