Saul Goodman AKA Jimmy McGill is back, in the season 2 opener of Better Call Saul, called ‘Switch’. And a switch it is. And then it is not.
Like ‘Uno’, Saul’s pilot episode, ‘Switch’ starts with a black and white montage of what we can only assume is a flash-post-Breaking-Bad-forward. Creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould haven’t forgotten about Jimmy’s (Bob Odenkirk) Heisenberg-absent future. It’s a grey one. Jimmy’s working at a mall, takes out the trash after closing hours (accompanied by the song ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ by Billy Walker), but accidentally locks himself up in the dumpster basement. There’s one way out: an exit door, with a sign that says: ‘Notice: Emergency Exit Only! If you exit this door you will activate the alarm, and the police will be notified. If you must exit and the’ – that’s as far as it goes. It’s possible that the warning’s just a precaution and no (silent) alarm will be tripped. However, it’s clear Jimmy doesn’t want to run the risk of encountering police. So he stays put. It’s a quarter past nine. It’s only until a quarter to midnight that he’s released by the cleaning guy. By that time, he’s engraved his initials in the wall. ’S.G. was here’. Or is it ‘J.G. was here’? It’s nice to get a look into the future, but I’m afraid that’s all it is. Nice. Better Call Saul is, above all else, a prequel story.
Jimmy’s been offered the job at law firm Davis & Maine. A huge opportunity to break into the serious lawyer business, but he wavers. It’s not exactly clear why. I guess it’s because he just loves conning people too much. He also wonders if Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is part of the equation. Are they finally going to happen, now that he’s about to play in the big league? She assures him those are two completely separate issues. The clever thing to say. However, that’s just what Jimmy needed to hear to decline the offer. He’s out. No more law. No more lawyer. Just fun pretending to be somebody else, taking people’s money and taking them for fools.
This means drifting like an 80 year old in the pool and being served on, apparently. He’s done everything that was expected of him. Played by the rules. Now, what does he have to show for it? I’d say a job at a prestigious law firm, but that seems to be a minor detail. Jimmy just wants to live, by… sitting on his ass, drinking cocktails. It’s not long before Kim shows up to ask him what the hell is going on. A midlife crisis? More like midlife clarity, he says.
To show her what he means – because he can’t quite explain it – he cons some stock broker at the bar, and lets Kim play the part of his sister. She’s reluctant at first, but gets into the groove after a while. Free food, not to mention the free (very expensive) tequila – stock man Ken (Kyle Bornheimer, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Agent Carter) insists on paying the cheque -, can do that. Jimmy and Kim exit the bar drunk and exhilarated; the perfect recipe for romance. They end up in bed together. We just get to see the morning after, though.
Has it been the spur of the moment? Have Jimmy’s feelings finally been returned? My guess is they haven’t. No matter how great it was to brush their teeth together. As Kim leaves to go to work, Jimmy leaves to float around some more in the pool. That’s when it hits him. Cocktails aren’t everything either. He saddles back up, switches again, contacts David & Maine, is not too late, and settles into his new (proper) office.
There’s not a whole lot of Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) in the episode, but there is of Daniel Warmolt (Mark Proksch), the guy who’s been hiring him. Daniel’s gotten a bit too sure of himself and thinks he can do the exchanges with Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) by himself. Sure, he can, even without Mike as his backup. But you still don’t want to get too friendly with Nacho, especially with your new PLAYUH licence plate and the car to match it, and your full name in the glove compartment. Before he knows it, Daniel’s house is trashed and his baseball cards are gone. His secret stash, too, most likely. It’s a great role, and we haven’t seen the last of him yet. Check out Talking Saul for more inside information and a sneak peek of next week’s episode.