Egan Davis ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
As the first season of Better Call Saul comes to a close, it’s clear why AMC picked it up for a full series and already renewed it for season two. Besides the draw of more Breaking Bad success, they realized that Vince Gilligan and crew still had a story they wanted to tell. The creators could have easily just made a carbon copy of Breaking Bad and called it a day. Instead they created a completely different world that succeeds on its own merit. Granted, it has the advantage that most television shows don’t, which is backstory on the characters from a different show, but they didn’t let that define what the show eventually became.
This episode largely dealt with the origins of “Slippin’ Jimmy” and the days he spent in Cicero, Illinois before moving to Albuquerque with Chuck (Michael McKean). The opening scene is a flashback that shows Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) freshly out of prison telling his con artist friend Marco (Mel Rodriguez) that he’s going to Albuquerque to work for Chuck’s law firm. Marco is disappointed in his friend and says that it’s like “watching Miles Davis give up the trumpet.” After handing over the Sandpiper case to Hamlin, Hamlin, and McGill, Jimmy enlightens a group of elderly people on why he was arrested years ago in Cicero. It turns out that Jimmy was married to a woman who eventually cheated on him. When Jimmy found the guy who did the cheating the only logical thing for him to do was defecate in his car through the sun roof. It was revealed to him later that the cheater’s children were both in the car at the time which is why he was charged with a few counts of child molestation. This cringe-worthy scene got more and more uncomfortable by the minute and it’s really impressive how well Bob Odenkirk can work the room even when he’s talking about such a disgusting subject matter.
Jimmy returns to Cicero and reunites with Marco. It doesn’t take long for them to get back into the swing of things and they successfully convince a bar patron to buy a half dollar for one hundred dollars after tricking him into thinking it’s valuable. After getting the initial taste of conning again, Jimmy and Marco are shown tricking people in a montage of lies and deceit. The montage sequence of conning the masses was like an acid trip filled to the brim with debauchery and neon signs. Jimmy sounded like he was something straight out of a spam email by trying to convince someone a “Nigerian prince” needed their help (money). This montage shows us Jimmy indulging in a life he so desperately missed after going straight for a while. This is Jimmy is his prime form. We also see some of their signature lines to trick their victims like “I really shouldn’t be telling you this.” In said montage, we hear Jimmy’s famous story about how he convinced a woman that he was Kevin Costner in order to sleep with her which is a very funny call back to Breaking Bad. Jimmy tries to leave the next day but Marco convinces him to do one last con before he goes. The con is set up similarly to one they did in a flashback earlier in the season where Marco pretends to be a passed out drunk while Jimmy lures a victim and convinces him to overpay for a watch found on Marco’s body. Jimmy immediately realizes that something about this con isn’t right and Marco starts having a heart attack. Before dying, Marco says his week being with Jimmy was the best week of his life. The fact that Marco found such joy in Jimmy’s company made this emotional scene very hard to watch. After the funeral, Jimmy gets a call from Kim who says that the Sandpiper case is too big for Hamlin, Hamlin, and McGill, so they’re reaching out to another law firm. The law firm wants Jimmy on the case because of his close relationship with the elderly clients.
Just as Jimmy is about to walk into the new law firm, he changes his mind and talks to Mike (Jonathan Banks) about all the money they decided not to take from the Kettlemans. Jimmy states that whatever stopped him from taking it before would never stop him again. The season ends with Jimmy speeding away while humming the tune of “Smoke on the Water.” Jimmy is not playing Mr. Nice Guy anymore and will go back to being “Slippin’ Jimmy.”
This episode didn’t feel like as much of a climax as the reveal of Chuck’s betrayal in the last episode. There’s a brief scene that shows Mike on the phone talking to someone about a potential business opportunity. This could be a tease for Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) coming into play next season. It’s interesting that they’ve already gotten rid of the “good Jimmy” persona and it’ll be interesting to see if he comes back next season with the new name of Saul Goodman. First seasons can sometimes be very sloppy with the tone they’re trying to set up, but Better Call Saul nailed it right out of the gate. Season two can’t come soon enough.
Overall Episode Grade: B+