Article by: Frank Memmesheimer
ON TV: Better Call Saul S2 Episodes 1 & 2 Review
This is the gravy train and it’s leaving the station.
All rise. Season 2 of ‘Better Call Saul’ is now in session. Ladies and gentlemen of the readership, be warned right in advance. This won’t be your usual review. I’ll refrain from diligently recapping the events of each episode, from weighing pros and cons, and from evaluating creative choices. I won’t judge, although I might occasionally offer an informed opinion. Instead, I’ll try to work with the material that each episode offers. Dwell on it. Dissect it. Extrapolate. Speculate. I’ll write about whatever hits my eye, upsets my stomach, or meets my fancy. This is more a collection of curious observations than a review.
Season 2 picks up right where season 1 left us hanging: Jimmy at the crossroad of deciding where to point his life and endeavors. He walks out of the most lucrative job offer of his professional life and right into the carefree life at a hotel pool – under the pretense of a false identity, of course. He is done being a lawyer. “I’ve been doing the right thing for all these years and where has it gotten me? Nowhere!” So, no more following rules. It is time for a change. “A mid-life crisis? Mid-life clarity.”
For the first time in recent years, Jimmy stops paying valuing Chuck’s opinion and lets ‘Slippin’ Jimmy’ officially take the wheel. Just to demonstrate his skillful art of deception, he targets a loudmouth investment broker who practically begs to be swindled. Showing this undiscovered side of his is what finally lands Jimmy in the arms and the bedroom of long term friend and love-interest Kim. The thrill of the mutually committed con act and the bottle of exquisite tequila ($50 a shot) might have had a contributing effect. The ensuing romantic relationship and all it entails is something both will have to get used to.
This new life of Jimmy McGill lasts for a day and a half. In the end, Jimmy is right back where he was in the beginning: at the crossroad of deciding where to point his life.
Notice the difference in background? There’s no future for Jimmy with ‘Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill’ in Albuquerque, NM. The block wall in the first shot makes that clear. But with ‘Davis & Main’ in Santa Fe, NM? This future is bright and abundant: spacious office, company car, acknowledgement, opportunity. Even if life at a big lawfirm is not for Jimmy, he is a changed man with changed principles.
Right after his first decision he returns to his shabby law office in the back of a nail salon. In an act of open defiance, Jimmy ignores his landlord’s infuriated reprimand “Cucumber [is] water for customers only” and quenches his thirst. He is intrigued by what is forbidden. He always has been. Once he enters the services of Davis & Main, his first order of business instinctively is to do the one prohibited thing. He flicks the forbidden SWITCH, waiting for hell to break loose. Yet, nothing happens. The transgression bears no consequences. A silent confirmation for Jimmy’s new moral orientation and a seemingly free ticket to wherever he’s heading. His journey of defiance and disobedience culminates in the fabrication of not only an alibi but also the evidence to support it.
It will be interesting to see how the notorious and almost self-aggrandized rule breaker will turn out to be the indecisive, struggling shadow of a man we saw in the black-and-white opening of the season.
What about the rest of the gang?
Mike and his recent employer Daniel ‘You can call me Pryce’ Wormald part ways as the latter is too pleased with his own ascent in the criminal sphere to follow Mike’s counsel anymore. What could possibly be wrong with taking a flashy Hummer 2 to a drug deal?
“This business requires restraint and this is the opposite of restraint.”
Quite apparently, PLAYUH ‘Price’ has yet to watch Good Fellas, one of the educational must-sees upon deciding to lead a life of crime. The lesson to be learned from the movie is a simple one: don’t spend wanted money, avoid unwanted attention. Otherwise you’ll end up dead. And don’t trust nobody. Especially the people closest to you for they are most likely to have a hand in your demise.
Trusting Nacho? Big mistake, baseball card boy. You’re in for a rude awakening. Losing his stock of illegally obtained pharmaceuticals along with his loud and proud H2 in the final exchange for his beloved baseball cards could be considered “getting of easily.” There are outcomes imaginable worse when one parts ways with someone of Nacho’s caliber. Daniel’s naivety leaves him in the crosshairs of the police and at odds with Mike. The dire situation is ultimately remedied once Mike recruits Jimmy’s help. Both Jimmy and Mike prove their talent at mending what’s broken and saving what seems unfixable. “Are you still morally flexible?” Whoever has either COBBLER rush to his aid can consider himself lucky.
On a final note, let me offer two more pieces of advice I’ve learned from the movies.
Investing your money into big, expensive, fancy things? Not wise according to Heat’s Neil McCauley: “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”
Any chance of undoing the mistakes of the past? Not according to the criminal puppet master in The Counselor: “I would urge you to the see the truth of the situation you’re in. The world in which you seek to undo the mistakes that you made is different from the world where the mistakes were made. … There’s only accepting. The choosing was done a long time ago.”