“Better Call Saul” is an extremely risky idea for a television show. And while that has always been the case for any show that tries to spin off the greatest television show of all time, an even greater risk is the centering of a show on a protagonist that is a dangerously ticking time bomb in need of a babysitter to keep him from blowing up.
We’ve always known where Jimmy is heading. But when this show started, we were unaware of the collateral damage that transformation could cause. We didn’t know Kim yet and how her close relationship with Jimmy could undo all the hard work she’s put into her career. There’s Howard and Cliff, top flight attorneys whose reputations took a hit because of their willingness to support Jimmy. There’s the life Chuck had before he rescued Jimmy from Cicero. Did Jimmy play a part in the direction Chuck’s surburban life took. And was Jimmy the reason his father’s business ultimately failed?
As Season 2 reaches the halfway point, the major players are going to have to make a major decision: stick by “Slippin Jimmy” or get as far away from him as they can. Chuck made his call long ago. And Howard appears to be heading in that same direction. What will everyone else decide? And can we as the viewer continue to pull for Jimmy as he moves closer to becoming Saul as those around him suffer for it?
What am I saying? Of course we will. I mean, we are fans of Walter White and “Breaking Bad.” But I don’t expect it to be a completely painfree process for us to endure.
Now, about that previously mentioned suburban bliss Chuck was living…
Chuck and Rebecca
Do my eyes deceive me, or is that Chuck McGill changing a light bulb? He’s not just changing one, he’s standing, sans space blanket with electrical devices running all around the house. Of course, this is a flashback, as a woman cooks in Chuck’s kitchen while the perfect dinner music plays in the background. That woman is Rebecca (the name on that sheet music in episode 2), and she’s Chuck’s wife. They seem extremely happy together. But their marital bliss creates more questions than answers in my mind. Of course, there’s the mystery of what happened to these two love birds. But why does Chuck never mention her or this wonderfully happy time in his life?
Tonight, Jimmy is coming over for dinner and it seems like his first time seeing Chuck’s place in Albuquerque. After small talk that Chuck doesn’t seem interested in, Jimmy starts telling lawyer jokes. Of course, “the law is sacred” Chuck doesn’t care for those. But Rebecca loves them and starts telling some herself. Before the night is out, Chuck tries his hand at lawyer jokes in bed. But his delivery is all wrong, and Rebecca doesn’t even realize he’s joking. Chuck’s jealousy for his brother’s personality has yet to be more evident than in this opening scene.
Erin the Babysitter
Kim and Jimmy are still dealing with the effects of Jimmy’s rogue commercial airing in Colorado. For Kim, it’s still toiling away in doc review. But Jimmy may actually have it worse. He has his own personal shadow, a spunky, detailed brunette named Erin. She’s appeared in the background previously this season. But tonight, we get to see her true role in Jimmy’s narrative at Davis and Main.
Tonight’s great piece of detail are all those wonderful, color coded tabs Erin has put on a recent deposition Jimmy turned in. Jimmy tried to sneak away from her once, but of course that short-sighted plan just meant dealing with her the very next morning.
And it’s not just grammar and font usage that Jimmy must deal with from Erin. When going to the courthouse to schedule a hearing for the Sandpiper case, Erin also goes with Jimmy to make sure everything he does is above board. And it would not take long before Erin the babysitter had to step in.
Using a technique he used last season as a public defender, Jimmy tries to bribe the court secretary with Beanie Babies to get his case on the docket sooner. Of course, Erin cries foul quickly and adamently, forcing Jimmy’s case to be scheduled next month.
Jimmy does run into an old friend in the bathroom (and thankfully, Erin cannot babysit him in there): Bill Oakley, the DDA he was in constant negotiations with on behalf of his clients last season. Bill is envious of Jimmy’s new job at Davis and Main and wants to know all the “luxorious” details. But Bill seems to be into Jimmy’s lifestyle more than Jimmy’s into it. How is Jimmy going to get out of the box Davis and Main have him locked in with Erin constantly keeping tabs?
“I Save Me”
Speaking of needing to distance oneself from Jimmy, Kim is exhibit A of this dilemma and I am really surprised how quickly the show seems to be pushing her towards a decision. Kim is still stuck in doc review, but is determined that she will find a way out that doesn’t involve Jimmy McGill.
So every spare moment Kim is not looking over documents is spent making phone calls. Anyone with a potential connection to a client receives a phone call from her. But while most of her overtures to bring new business to HHM fall on deaf ears, she finally gets one big fish to bite: Mesa Bank, who I believe needs representation for some plans for expansion (more on this later).
Now, Kim assumes all her hard work to land this big fish will get her out of the doghouse. But Howard still wants her in doc review. But Kim’s work landing Mesa Bank may have given her a new, surprising ally.
Chuck and Kim
It’s amazing to me just how many people have to be inconvienced by this “condition” Chuck suffers. He is trying to do work at the office early before everyone gets there and all the phones and other lights turn on. So someone has to go to his house before 4 am, pick him up and take him there. Hell, the man can’t even make his own coffee. He offers Kim a cup, but then tells her to make him one because he can’t handle the machine.
But this is actually one of Chuck’s more heartwarming moments. Up to this point, we only know Chuck as a lawyer who tried to keep Jimmy down all those years. But here we see another side of him, a Chuck who sees potential in a young lawyer and wants to put in a good word for her. Chuck and Kim have a conversation about Jimmy and about their father, a man who, according Chuck, could “see no sin.” Apparently, the McGill’s father had a general store in Cicero that he lost because $14,000 disappeared from the books. Of course, Chuck blames Jimmy since he was running the store. But Chuck goes onto say that while Jimmy is a good guy, he “just can’t help himself.”
The conversation ends with Chuck telling Kim that she’s too good to be down in doc review, and he will tell Howard this immeadiately. But the clear unsaid message Chuck has for Kim: stay away from Jimmy if you want to stay at HHM.
Mike and Tuco’s Uncle
I am always disappointed when we don’t get to see more of Mike. But what we did see from him this week is just fantastic (as usual). Mike continues to have noticeable bruising on one side of his face (from a “car accident” he says) as he talks to Stacey over the phone. She’s found a new place for her and Faith and thanks Mike for putting them there.
But Nacho’s words from last week rang true here. He wondered why Mike didn’t just go ahead and end Tuco instead of keeping him alive to be reckoned with when he got out of prison. But I don’t think Mike expected to feel the ramifications before Tuco even goes to trial.
In walks Hector “Tio” Salamanca. You should remember him as Tuco’s uncle who appeared in a wheelchair ringing his bell througout “Breaking Bad.” He offers Mike $5000 to say the gun found at the scene was his and allow Tuco to only serve time for battery. If Mike takes this money, he will be on both sides of a conflict likely to turn deadly. Is this another domino that leads Mike into a world with “no more half measures?”
-Jimmy still holds steady to the belief that Chuck is the one punishing Kim. But tonight’s episode shows that Howard is solely responsible for putting Kim in doc review. And Jimmy’s view of Chuck doing everything to hold Jimmy down is a bit self-centered.
-How do you think a lawsuit against HHM would go for Kim? She agrees with me here that’s Jimmy idea to do this would only make things worse for everyone.
-It’s funny how over the course of five episodes, Kim’s opinion of Jimmy has changed so drastically. She begged him to return to the law in the premiere. Now, she likely wishes she would’ve let Jimmy stay in that pool conning loud-mouthed business men.
-Chuck mentions the business with Mese Bank will involve “Interstate Expansion.” So it sounds like the bank wants to work with, merge, or open branches in other states, requiring approval from numerous committees. I am sure the writers of “Saul” can find a way to make this interesting, but it sure doesn’t sound exciting.
Breaking Bad References
-You guys didn’t notice anything in this department tonight did you? Well, other than the appearance of Hector “ring my bell” Salamecca before he had his stroke!!!!
-Also, while at dinner with Chuck and Rebecca, Jimmy mentioned possibly moving into “The Beachcomber,” apartments that Walt would move into at the start of season three after Skylar kicked him out.
-Will Mike accept the money from Hector, alienating Nacho?
-How is Jimmy going to get away from Erin the babysitter?
-Will Kim continue distancing herself from Jimmy? Or will something bring them back together?
-Did Jimmy take that $14,000? Or is there some other explanation?
-What happens to Rebecca? And how does her disappearance lead to the changes that occurred in Chuck?
Folks, we are at the halfway point of Season 2. See you back here next week.