As the first season of Better Call Saul draws to a close, we see Jimmy McGill return to Cicero, Illinois, meeting old friends, and perhaps being put in a corner yet again. Who knows, we might even see someone book a ticket to Belize.
Before getting to the episode discussion and review I’d just like to note how happy I was to finally see Mel Rodriguez again – who was in the episode “Hero”, and in Community a couple of seasons ago. The episode opened with a flashback in which Jimmy tells his old buddy Marco that he’s leaving for New Mexico – Marco doesn’t handle it well, which is to be expected. We return in medias res as Jimmy is to hand over the Sandpiper papers to HHM.
“He’s my brother. He thinks I’m a scumbag. There’s nothing I can do to change that”
Hamlin was shocked to find out how much Jimmy has been doing for Chuck – and this really says a lot about Jimmy. He’s a good brother, seeing as he actually gives guidelines for the HHM people to follow. Hamlin always liked Jimmy, Chuck just… Well, he didn’t accept how Jimmy changed. Great to see Patrick Fabian as a nice guy who is accepted by Jimmy.
“B as in Belize. Beautiful place, or so I’ve heard. I would love to go there, but let’s face it, that’s never going to happen. None of us is ever leaving this God forsaken wasteland.”
In one of the best scenes this season on Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill goes off Bingo-script to vent. The most interesting part of the huge speech delivered at the old folk’s home was what went down when he was charged with indecent exposure. Jimmy felt, feels, wronged. Kudos to Odenkirk – great scene – and probably a tough monologue to memorize.
There was something absolutely amazing about seeing Jimmy return to Illinois and Marco – for one their little chat in the booth was really interesting, but the best thing about that entire plotpoint was seeing Jimmy back in his old element. Seeing Slippin’ Jimmy return to form was so energizing. JFK facing left. Yep.
In the Slippin’ Jimmy montage I noticed how both Jimmy and Marco were covered in blue light at times, and this reminded me of the flashbacks, which have all had a blue tone when centered on Slippin’ Jimmy and Cicero, Illinois. Just as Jimmy is back in Cicero, the lighting is in proper style. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but it stuck out to me. Good job Peter Gould and Arthur Albert.
In many ways this episode is about how good of a guy Jimmy is – how good of a brother he is – how loyal he is. Not only did we have the Hamlin and Wexler-scenes, but Marco even notes how Chuck is a ‘stuck-up douchebag’. No one expects Jimmy to stand by Chuck, but Jimmy refuses to skip town permanently. It’s his brother.
Eventually, though, it’s his loyalty that made him go through some emotional hardship. Seeing Marco drift away like that, on the cold asphalt, was chilling and painfully sad. Loved seeing Mel Rodriguez, it was fun while it lasted.
Jimmy then learns of an opportunity to become partner at another firm, but declines it indirectly by not meeting with the partners. Now why is that? Well, he’s decided that he won’t let honor stop him, he won’t let Chuck’s watchful eyes remain a moral compass. He’s never looking back again. Jimmy McGill is very close to becoming Saul Goodman.
“You are not Kevin Costner.”
This episode had a lot of great callbacks to Breaking Bad. An example of that was the Belize-nod and another good one was Marco’s ring. A great one was how Jimmy and Marco had fooled these waitresses, I assume, into thinking that they were Kevin Costner and his manager, respectively. In the episode Abiquiu from Breaking Bad Saul Goodman revealed how he had: “once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it.”
Overall this episode bookended an amazing first season for the Breaking Bad-spinoff well, and while some might say the episode was slow-paced, too character-driven, or that it didn’t have enough action, you must remember that this was never Breaking Bad. Better Call Saul is its own show, and this origin story is exhilarating.
I’m Jeffrey Rex