New Mexico’s Greatest Lawyer Returns
Better Call Saul season 2 is off to a good start with a solid premiere. Although the episode was short on action, it focused sharply on Bob Odenkirk’s character, Jimmy McGill, who as we all know, later becomes the infamous Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad.
Creator: Vince Gilligan
Starring: Bob Odenkirk
Run Time: 60 Minutes
Exhibition: Broadcast on AMC
The episode slowly reveals the motives behind his sudden rejection of his dream job, his connection to Kim, his occasional lover, and his acceptance in the end of his true calling as a lawyer. Bob Odenkirk does an excellent job of providing insight into his character, without depending on dialogue. The premiere also had some fantastic Breaking Bad easter eggs. The only downside was Mike’s small amount of screentime.
Similar to the series’ premiere last year, the episode opened with modern day Jimmy, still working at a Cinnabon in Nebraska, immediately recapturing the black comedy that trademarked Better Call Saul’s first season. Jimmy accidentally locks himself in the dumpster room of the mall, it’s hilarious because we’ve all done something like this at some point or another, but it turns depressing quickly when he heads to the emergency exit. At the last second, he refrains from using it after realizing that the police would be notified, the pained look on his face as he contemplates whether to risk imprisonment or not is tragic. The situation becomes a cruel irony since Jimmy cannot leave this metaphorical prison he’s created for himself for fearing of entering a literal prison. It was a fantastic introduction to the episode.
The remainder of the episode picked up right from where the first season ended; Jimmy was offered his dream job, where he would be finally be accepted as a real lawyer amongst his peers, it’s jarring to watch as he turns the job down without any explanation. Instead, Jimmy returns to his old law office and tears down the sign on his office door. His interactions with the owner of the spa he works out of excellently show the change in his character as it is clear that he simply does not care anymore.
Kim finally finds him lounging at a fancy hotel pool without a care in the world, he later explains that he only became a lawyer to impress his older brother Chuck, who broke Jimmy’s heart in last season’s finale, proclaiming that Jimmy “wasn’t a real lawyer”.
Now “done with the law”, Jimmy regresses back to conman “Slippin’ Jimmy” as both he and Kim plan to scam a jerk stockbroker at the bar, the highlight of the episode by far – Especially considering that it’s the same stockbroker who’s car was blown up by Walter White in the first season of Breaking Bad. This was a great easter egg, made even more so because they’re drinking the same tequila that Gus used to poison the cartel in season four of Breaking Bad.
The emotional high of the con leads to Jimmy and Kim spending the night together. They have a cute scene the next morning, arguing about whether or not it’s gross to share a toothbrush – a conversation I’ve had several times with my wife. Unfortunately for Jimmy, when Kim returns to work his attempts at conning people at the hotel aren’t met with the same passion, it’s just not the same being the lone conman.
The contrasting scenes were made more entertaining thanks to Bob Odenkirk, who was fantastic to watch as Jimmy went from eagerly anticipating conning an obvious mark to realizing the futility of it all – as he remarked back in the first season, con jobs are only good for “beer money.” This realization leads Jimmy to accept that his true calling is as a lawyer and so he takes his dream job at Davis & Maine. It was nice to see him taken aback by all the luxuries and perks of his new job, especially when you remember his claustrophobic former office.
Mike appears briefly in the middle of the episode and proves once again that Mike knows best, warning the drug dealer he protects not to go to a meet in the laughably flamboyant tricked-out Hummer. Even though I know little to nothing about drug meets, showing up in a bright yellow Hummer with flames on the side and spinners is probably a bad idea if you’re looking to remain inconspicuous. Sure enough, his partner, Nacho, takes advantage, easily manipulating his way into the car where he learns the man’s address from the VIN, nobody’s surprised when the man’s house is suddenly robbed. Idiotically, the man calls the police to report it, utterly unaware of how suspicious he looks. It’s darkly comical to watch him blather on about his stolen baseball cards, while the police officers are searching his apartment for incriminating evidence against him.
Overall, it was a great premiere episode. It continued the black humor from the first season, along with an excellent examination of the character of Jimmy McGill. There were two great nods to Breaking Bad and the conning of the rude stockbroker was a lot of fun. Even though we didn’t get to see much of Mike, the episode did set him up for potential conflict with Nacho and a need to protect the foolish drug dealer, since he would undoubtedly rat on Mike and Nacho.
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 10 ET on AMC and is now available on Netflix in both the UK and US.