Lots of things happening this week! The April TV-pocalypse is underway!
Episode of the Week
Better Call Saul – “Marco”
It’s getting a little silly at this point how frequently Better Call Saul has landed in this weekly post – but what can I say? It was once again my favorite thing on TV this week.
“I know what stopped me. And you know what, it’s never stopping me again.”
And with that, Jimmy McGill drove off into the sunset, leaving season one exponentially closer to being Saul Goodman than when it started. After everything he’s been through over the past ten episodes, Jimmy finally realized that maybe all the work he’s putting into being a good guy just isn’t worth it, and being some version of “Slippin’ Jimmy” may just be the answer. Do I expect season 2 to open with him at his Saul Goodman-iest? Absolutely not. I think he’s still got a ways to go before he reaches that level of comfort with being a criminal. But his epiphany outside the law firm was an enormous step toward the Saul Goodman we’re familiar with from Breaking Bad.
But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. The ending made me grin like an idiot (I may or may not have actually said “oh man, that is EXCELLENT” out loud to my empty apartment as the episode faded out), but the build up of the finale was also terrific.
It was shocking to me how quickly the show was able to pivot my attitude towards Chuck (and, to an extent, Howard Hamlin). For the bulk of the season, he was the sad, lonely, potentially crazy brother. After last week’s gut punch of a fight with Jimmy, turns out Chuck has always been a jerk letting Howard do his dirty work. In light of that, Jimmy’s encounters with Hamlin in this episode take on an entirely different feel – and I’d be curious to see how earlier episodes play with the knowledge I have now. Similarly, watching Chuck deal with Ernesto the assistant was cringeworthy – I could hardly believe I’d ever felt bad for the man.
Jimmy’s entire life has been spent trying to impress his jerk of a brother, so the events of last week’s episode left him reeling. He tried to go back to his elder law work, helping with bingo games and the like, but snapped pretty quickly and headed back to Chicago – where he returned to his old “Slippin’ Jimmy” ways. The show put together a wonderful montage letting us see bits and pieces of the various cons Jimmy and his old friend Marco ran at their favorite bar (and the money they were pulling in). It was great to finally have a concrete look at this part of Jimmy’s life, and see just how good he was at these sorts of scams. (As an aside, I didn’t catch this when I watched, but there’s a terrific Breaking Bad easter egg buried in Jimmy’s Kevin Costner bit).
Of course, as seems to be the case for most things in Jimmy’s life, something had to go wrong. Marco convinced him to run the back alley Rolex con we saw as a cold open early in the season one more time – and then collapsed and died of a heart attack mid-scam. This is, among other things, the origin of the big ring Jimmy/Saul always wears on his pinky – but also clearly a big factor in the decision Jimmy makes later on not to take the big law firm job.
It would have been easy for Jimmy to step into that big-time law firm partnership gig. It would have been a huge “screw you” to Chuck after the awful things he said in the last episode. It would have been a chance to make money doing something other than flirting with old ladies. It was, conceivably, everything Jimmy has been hoping for since he got his law degree. But something stops him. The fun of being “Slippin’ Jimmy” again, the anger at Chuck, the realization he could have had everything this job offers him without the drama and the work it would take if he was just willing to cheat a little bit.
So he drove away.
I can’t wait to see what this show does next season – what Jimmy is up to when we see him again, whether he and Mike end up working together now that they’re both a bit dirty, and what surprises Vince Gilligan has in store. The first season was so much better than I could have hoped for, and I am excited to sit back and continue to enjoy the ride.