Question: Would there still be a critical acclaim surrounding Better Call Saul were it not for its predecessor? This week’s episode was similarly slow to last week’s season opener; while there was an abundance of symbolism and foreshadowing (because there always is), there was also an innate dullness that permeates the episode unnoticed, because, quite honestly it doesn’t matter. As we’ve seen, James McGill (aka Slippin’ Jimmy, aka Saul Goodman) is a mess of a human being barely getting by. This week’s episode was a reminder that Jimmy is victim of that ever present plague upon our species; human error. This constant (and it is definitely constant) presence of Jimmy’s faults allows us as an audience to connect with Jimmy in a way that not only has us empathizing with the character, but takes it a step further and has us feel those agonizing moments where we can’t help but fuck it up because it’s in our nature.
Jimmy is flourishing at Davis and Main. He’s actually gotten his cocobolo desk (see season 1 episode 7 where he mentions wanting one to Kim) and living the good life. The thing about getting everything you want is that it’s never actually greener on the other side. Jimmy is obviously having a hard time to adjusting to his new life. Granted, he has a fancy new car, a big fancy office, money, prestige, and best of all…Kim. But it doesn’t seem to be enough. In one scene we see him find a new loophole in the Sandpiper case and he walks it over to Clifford Main’s (Ed Begley Jr.) executive, or rather, partner office. He’s exceedingly awkward standing there with his new boss. The executive life obviously does not suit him, but he’ll try his best. He’s presented with a compliment and pauses a little too long in accepting it. If you think about it, the only other person who thinks about him or believes in him is Kim, so why wouldn’t he revel in that moment longer than he had a right to?
Speaking of un-supportive father figures, Jimmy’s “ailing” brother Chuck continues his task of keeping Jimmy from reaching his full potential. Chuck learns of Jimmy’s new found employment through Howard who makes a point to personally deliver groceries to his house himself. Howard is still iffy; he has no business poking his head in Jimmy’s business as much as he does. However, he also seems to be the unlikely advocate of our protagonist and makes it clear over and over again that he’s actually on Jimmy’s side. In telling Chuck of Jimmy’s success, he quickly takes the stance that he’s been truthful to Davis & Main, but he’s also not “getting in the way.” He’s playing devil’s advocate until the victor is named. So, for now, fuck Howard (still).
We got a nice little chunk of Mike this episode as he brought back Nacho into the mix. Nacho is of course connected to Breaking Bad alum/feared drug dealer Tuco Salamanca and is currently running a side business without his boss’s knowledge. Nacho’s part is integral in this series because he’s connecting the known to the present/future, allowing the Breaking Bad crowd to feel like they’re still a part of things while also accepting this new series. For Mike’s part he does his best to help out newly severed client Daniel Wormald’s legal troubles. Last week Wormald’s stupidity led him to calling the cops when his house was robbed and trashed by Nacho and his goons. The cops found a “hidey hole.” added it up with the gaudy Hummer in the drive-way, and started asking questions. In a horrifically humorous series of events, Wormald shows up to the police precinct to oblige officers, only to find Mike working in the parking booth. Mike insists on lending out his services to finding the baseball cards, leading to our second run-in with Nacho of the season.
In a badass Mike move, he tracks Nacho down at his father’s upholstery shop to explain the situation. Mike persuades the pissed off lackey that Wormald’s going to the police is a hindrance on both of them, dropping Salamanca’s name like it’s going out of style. An agreement is met, Wormald is put in his place, and all is right in the world. Sort of. Jimmy is soon called out of his easy livin’ lifestyle to defend Wormald against the PD, which he does with ease. He fabricates a story and evidence, eventually bragging about it to the newly livin’ on the edge Kim. Her displeasure is swift, and it soon becomes apparent that Jimmy’s slippin’ lifestyle clashing with his fancy new job will ultimately lead to their demise.
Kim’s help is important. Jimmy is unable to perform in front of his brother who grossly makes the decision to interrupt an important update meeting between Davis & Main and Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. Chuck knows full and well that his presence is a hindrance to Jimmy; their last meeting didn’t go well. What’s interesting is the symbolism that occurs as Chuck enters the building. Jimmy is in the middle of a revelation important to the Sandpiper case, and as he reaches the climax of his point he’s interrupted by his disapproving brother literally taking the light out from in front of him. The important take away from this is not Chuck though, it’s Kim and her assurance that allows Jimmy to complete his thought and sequential point. With Kim Jimmy can think clearly. Kim is his fail safe. As we’ve learned from Breaking Bad, Kim isn’t always around. This means there’s a constant countdown to the loss of Kim in Jimmy’s life and it’s excruciating.
After extensive review the answer to the earlier posed question is simple. Yes, we would care about this show (and more specifically) this character because goddamn if he’s not at least a piece of each and every one of the vast audience that tunes into this show every week. Jimmy is our faults, our lies, our intrigue, and our salvation. What are we going to do when he gives in to Saul? Stay tuned…