The assumption most fans have made regarding the transformation of Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman is that it would be a consistent downhill spiral. Jimmy, the public defender with a good heart who wanted to do the right thing, would move with each passing episode and season closer to the money laundering expert with all the slimy commercials in the greater Albuquerque area. But the Season 2 premiere shows of “Better Call Saul” hints strongly that peaks and valleys will be plentiful as Jimmy not only transforms into Saul McGill, but also into a Cinnabon manager in Nebraska named Gene.
When we last left Jimmy McGill, he appeared to be straight on a road to Saul, spurning a job at a prominent firm because of an epiphany in Cicero, Illinois. But by the end of the premiere episode, Jimmy accepted the proposal with an office that literally could be anyway he wanted (well other than that light switch). He ends the episode on a career high note: a lawyer at a major firm working a high profile case. Instead of continuing back into his “Slipping Jimmy” ways (though we do get that briefly), Jimmy takes the high road of a respectable career path that we know he will only come crashing down from when it’s all said and down.
And I also was surprised at the pace the premiere episode took in addressing questions I thought might take the whole season to deal with. How long before Jimmy hooks up with Kim? How about half way through the premiere. How quickly will Mike move on from Price, the clueless IT at a pharmaceutical company, to more competent clients? How about ten minutes into the premiere.
But the season started almost identically to season one: in black and white at a Cinnabon in Omaha, Nebraska.
Present Day: Omaha
It’s closing time for Saul (or Gene, as he goes by in Omaha) as he heads to the mall dumpster to take out the trash. But the door closes behind, locking him in with the dumpster. An emergency exit is available to Gene, but according to the note on the handle, the police would be contacted immediately. And Gene wants none of that. So he waits a couple of hours until a member of the night cleaning crew opens the door for him. But while waiting for help, Gene carved a little message into the wall with a loose screw, carving “SG was here.”
I didn’t expect the show to return to present day again so quickly. But Gene the Cinnabon manager is clearly holding the identity of Saul Goodman very close to him. And he seems miserable with his current, low profile identity. But will we return to Gene’s adventures running a Cinnabon at some point this season? And will any of Saul’s previous life find him in Omaha?
Jimmy Quits the Law Profession
With his brother’s betrayal and Marco’s death fresh on his mind, Jimmy has lost the desire to continue practicing law. Even an offer from another law firm is not enough to wash away the bitterness from Jimmy’s recent experiences. Of course, the $20,000 fee HHM paid him to take over the Sandpiper case didn’t hurt either. And Jimmy takes the money, tears down his sign at his office behind the nail salon, and spends his days relaxing at a hotel pool looking for people to con.
But it may not have been either of the previously mentioned tragedies in Jimmy’s life that influenced his decision to turn down Davis and Main.
Jimmy and Kim
Before walking away from the offer, Jimmy had a conversation with Kim, asking what him accepting the position would mean for their relationship. Season one strongly hinted that Kim and Jimmy had a very close relationship while they both worked at HHM. But just how “romantically involved” they were before is still uncertain. We do know Jimmy is interested in kindling (or rekindling) those flames and he walks away from the opportunity of a lifetime when Kim is uncertain that will happen.
But Kim still cares enough for Jimmy to try and get him to reconsider the offer from Davis and Main. She goes to the hotel and pleads with Jimmy to return, but he’s undeterred. While having this conversation, a loud-mouthed financial advisor is bragging openly about the all the money he’s making. Jimmy is inspired and brings Kimmy along for his latest con job.
Viktor with a K
The subtle foreshadowing Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould put into each episode is just brilliant. I am really glad that particular strength of their writing has continued with Saul just as strongly as it was for Breaking Bad. The subject for brilliant foreshadowing this week was a bottle of $50 a shot whiskey that Jimmy and Kim casually discuss during their “please come back to the law” talk.
Jimmy and Kim go over to the financial advisor (whose name is Ken) and tell him they are brother and sister, Viktor (with a K, as Jimmy is quick to point out) and Giselle. Ken gives them the sales pitch about all the wonderful things he can do with their money while Viktor and Jezeel casually order that $50 a shot whiskey.
And it turns out, while eating and talking with Ken, they drink the entire bottle of whiskey. Viktor and Jezeel sign a deal to work with Ken, and he agrees to pay the bill, which is of course far more than he expected to pay.
Kim really took to conning naturally and enjoyed it so much that her and Jimmy spent the night together at the hotel. But after their fun night, Kim leaves to get back to work and Saul can’t seem to get in contact with her. He calls and leaves several messages, including a sales pitch for a new con. But after thinking things through, Jimmy reconsiders his situation and takes the offer from Davis and Main.
“Always Leave On”
Jimmy is now a lawyer at a respectable firm. After greeting all his new associates and being shown around by Clifford Main (played by Ed Begley Jr.), Jimmy settles into his new office. There’s a company car, a weird painting (which he can replace if he wants) and a desk that is larger than his previous office just on its own (but that is also another item Jimmy can replace). But there’s also this light switch with a note underneath it, saying “Always Leave On, Do Not Turn Off.” As his first act of rebellion (and I expect there will be many more this season), Jimmy turns that switch off. Nothing happens (at least not that we can see) of course. But I don’t think this “act of defiance” at the end of the show can be taken lightly. And I also have a hard time being happy for Jimmy here since we all know his demise at Davis and Main is inevitable. The only question is when and how.
Mike and Price
My only complaint about the premiere episode was how little a part Mike played in it. Now, I do not expect that to be a trend (and the scenes for next week indicate Mike will be a big part of that episode). But just saying, Mike’s an awesome character.
Price, the pharmacy thief, pulls up in a flame red and yellow Hummer with spinning rims. Remember when everybody wanted to own a Hummer? Mike cringes at the sight of Price’s new wheels and informs him that he will not be getting in that car because of all the attention it brings to a deal that requires as little as possible.
Now, we must remember that Price is a moron. And he decides that Mike doesn’t really do anything but stand there anyway, so he’s just going to save himself some money and go and meet Nacho on his own (another brilliant decision by a brilliant man).
When Price meets Nacho, the exchange goes without any issue. But Nacho takes advantage of a clueless Price by looking and finding his vehicle registration (which includes the IT tech’s address). And we all know what Nacho likes to do when he finds out a dumbass is hiding stolen money.
Now, I want to be clear that I do not condone stealing. But because Nacho steals from stupid people like Price and the Kettlemens who don’t deserve the money they have, I think I can safely cheer when Nacho takes from these people like a modern age Robinhood of some sort (oh, and also, we need more Nacho this season).
After the theft, the police show up at Price’s house and the place has been trashed. But all Price seems to care about are the baseball cards that have been stolen. He accidentally mentions some cash was taken, but quickly changes the subject. The police are skeptical of Price’s situation, seeing that his car is about the size of his entire home. The cops also notice a couch that appears to have been moved and it’s hiding a spot in the wall that would be the perfect hiding spot for large wads of cash (which of course is now empty). I do hope Price’s ultimate demise is delayed at least a little bit because of just how hilarious his incompetence is.
Quote of the Night
“This business requires restraint. And this is the opposite of restraint.”
Mike explaining to Price why showing up to an illegal transaction in a colorful hummer is a bad idea.
Breaking Bad References
-Ken, the loud mouth business man who Jimmy and Kim conned, was also the same guy that gets his car blown up by Walt back in Season One of Breaking Bad. So apparently, Ken did not learn his lesson about bragging a little less publicly from the episode’s con job.
-The tequila used in the con was the same brand used by Gus to poison Don Eladio back in Season 4 of Breaking Bad.
-One of the officers who investigated Price’s house was Officer Saxton. He appeared in Season 3 of Breaking Bad after Walt moved back in despite him and Skylar being separated.
Questions for Next Week
-Now that Jimmy and Chuck are back working on the same case, how will they coexist?
-Who will Mike work for next? (did I hear him mention the name “Tuco” in the preview for next week?)
-Will Jimmy returning to the law bring him and Kim closer together? And are there any more scams in the offing for the two of them in the future?
-And what exactly does that light switch do?
I can’t wait to see Chuck’s return next week, as well as more of Mike. And I want to learn more about Jimmy’s new boss, Clifford Main. What kind of relationship will he have with Jimmy?