Anger. That is what separates Jimmy McGill from Saul Goodman. Both love to scheme. Both love to perform. And neither can just accept the mundane chores of being a lawyer without the creative aspects (such as interior decorating choices or creating commercials).
But anger will be the tipping point that turns Jimmy into Saul. In seasons 1 and 2, despite all his scheming and questionable ethics, Jimmy mostly maintains his cool. The only angry Jimmy we know of before season 3 was the one who pooped in the car of his ex-wife’s lover.
Otherwise, Jimmy has kept his cool. He maintained his composure when negotiating with Tuco for the lives of the doofus skaters back in season 1. He even kept his cool (mostly) when he found out Chuck was the one holding him back all along.
But something has snapped in season 3. It nearly came out last week when the Air Force captain confronted Jimmy in his office. And there was no holding Jimmy back when he found out Chuck had recorded him.
Now, I’m not saying the anger hasn’t always been there. Chuck knows the deep seated anger Jimmy holds first hand. Chuck had to bail his brother out the last time Jimmy’s anger got him in trouble with the law. And Chuck used that anger against his brother in his own “Slippin Jimmy” type scheme.
So lets take a look back at a big night that saw Jimmy commit numerous crimes in front of a PI, the return of Gus, Mike’s never-ending goose chase following trackers in gas caps, and the hiring of a new receptionist at Wexler-McGill.
The “Better Call Saul” universe brought back another “Breaking Bad” character last night when Kim and Jimmy hired Francesca Liddy as their new receptionist.
Francesca will become Jimmy’s receptionist in “Breaking Bad,” and it’s easy to see why considering the chemistry the two have right off the bat.
The interview process that gave Francesca the job also showed the clear contrast between Kim and Jimmy’s clashing styles. Kim asks standard, professionally worded interview questions, while Jimmy uses his best Arizona DMV (I mean MVD) stand-up material.
And Jimmy further pisses off his business partner when he offers Francesca the job without Kim’s approval. I’m not sure if it was just his gut or a hasty decision to get someone taking calls before his next commercial aired, but Jimmy is able to convince Kim to give Francesca an immediate tryout.
Francesca passes with flying colors, naturally carrying on conversations with the “oldsters” interested in hiring Jimmy. I look forward to many more fun conversations between Francesca and Jimmy’s prospective clients, including the calls she receives from people like Mike.
The Sequel to the Great Gas Cap Tracker Caper
Now, I’m usually a fan of Mike’s schemes and the way the show lays them out step-by-step. And last week’s “Gas Cap Tracker Caper” was a shining example of the best of Vince Gilligan’s story telling.
But one thing last week’s episode didn’t call for was a sequel. And watching Mike spend another episode playing stake out while staring at the red dot moving on that little screen had me screaming “Get on it with it already!!!” at my TV screen.
But on a positive note, Mike’s tracker watch did help introduce Gus Fring to the “Better Call Saul” universe.
Los Pollos Hermanos
We pick up “Tracker Watch 2003” (or whatever year we’re in at this point) and find Mike still following that elusive red dot on the screen. He follows it to a meeting place where the tracker changes hands to a guy driving a green bronco, carrying a green knapsack. Mike tracks the tracker until daybreak, leading him to everybody’s favorite chicken restaurant.
Mike makes the call to Jimmy and hires him to watch the guy in the green bronco with the green knapsack. As Jimmy observes (and notices nothing of importance), we see an iconic first meeting between the future Saul Goodman and Gus Fring.
It’s pretty clear Gus notices Jimmy observing knapsack guy, but “Slippin Jimmy” covers his tracks by literally slipping his watch off when Gus asks why Jimmy’s digging through a trash can.
Gus also notice Mike and Jimmy talking across the street, which I’m sure is the reason the tracker changes hands one more time. This time, a guy in an SVU (more on him later) drives out to the middle of nowhere and lays the gas cap with the tracker in the middle of the road with a cell phone on top of it. That’s where Mike finds it, picks up the ringing cell phone and hopefully ends this cat and mouse game that went one episode too long.
Another scheme in “Witness” that reached its conclusion was Chuck’s entrapment of Jimmy. And I really thought this one would play out longer. But all it took was one “accidental” playing of the tape for Ernesto and 8 days of waiting with a private investigator for Chuck to incriminate Jimmy.
Ernesto arrives at Kim and Jimmy’s office and tells her of the tape with Jimmy’s confession. And Kim comes to the same conclusions Howard and Chuck had about the tape: it will never get Mesa Verde back as a client and is unlikely to be allowed in court. But Jimmy is clearing fuming, which is exactly what Chuck is counting on.
“Howard, Were You a Witness to What Happened Here?”
If Jimmy wasn’t the target, he might have been proud of the detail involved in Chuck’s scheme. Chuck wants nothing to alert Jimmy to the trap. So he has Howard park his car behind the house so Jimmy won’t know Howard’s there when he comes to visit.
Then, HHM hires a PI to stay at the house so he can witness Jimmy commit a crime by breaking into the house and taking the tape.
It’s been 8 days and Howard, considering the cost of paying a PI, wonders if they should give up the plan. But right on cue, Jimmy shows up and smashes through Chuck’s door (notice Chuck did not let him in). He break’s into Chuck’s desk and destroys the tape. And for good measure, Jimmy threatens to burn Chuck’s house down before Howard and the private investigator step out and reveal themselves.
So now, Jimmy has broken into Chuck’s house, destroyed his property, and threatened him with arson.
-Jimmy gave a first hint at what happened to Chuck’s wife, Rebecca, when he tells Chuck “It’s no wonder she left you.”
-I love the scene where Jimmy is pulling the painter’s tape off the wall at the Wexler-McGill office just like Chuck taught him to last week before ripping it off in a rage.
-Great job by Patrick Fabian showing us just how uncomfortable Howard Hamlin would be sneaking around.
-Has Mike left or been fired from his job as a parking attendant? If not, then they must have very flexible sick pay and vacation days.
-“He didn’t sound like he wanted to talk about Cracker Barrell.” The first of what I hope are many great lines from Francesca.
-Are we going to find out what’s in the green knapsack? Or does it even matter now that Gus and Mike appear set to meet?
Breaking Bad Reference
-Of course, the first BCS appearances of Gus, Los Pollos Hermanos, and Francesca were obvious. But the man driving the SUV leaving Los Pollos Hermanos was none other than Victor, Gus’s henchman who meets a very unpleasant end at the hands of Gus in the Season 4 premiere of Breaking Bad.
Jimmy now has a legal fight that figures to keep his hands full the rest of the season. And let’s hope Mike and Gus actually meet next week instead of creepily following each other’s trackers around town.
Also, be on the lookout Friday for a piece analyzing which Better Call Saul characters could die before the show comes to its conclusion. See you then.