REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Amarillo”

Better Call Saul - Reviewed

The following is a review of the third episode of the second season of Better Call Saul, available on AMC in the U.S. and on Netflix in Europe. Expect story spoilers. 

Jimmy is slipping… In the third episode of the second season of Better Call Saul (“Amarillo”), Jimmy goes too far with the Sandpiper Crossing-case, and might irreparably damage his relation to both Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill and Davis & Main. Meanwhile, Mike is in-between jobs, as it were, and his family is calling for his help. 

Let’s start with my least favorite part of the episode – the B-story. Mike (played by Jonathan Banks) has been working so hard for Stacey (played by Kerry Condon) and Kaylee in Better Call Saul, and at this point I’m totally with Mike on this. Stacey must’ve dreamt this, and it seems she has become way too paranoid after the passing of her husband. Mike may not be the best person for her to have in her life right now. But then again, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Nevertheless, Mike needs a job to take his mind off what little is happening at home. I’m sure some were expecting the veterinarian to present him with Gus Fring, but we’re not close to that happening I’m afraid. Nacho (played by Michael Mando) is still here, and as long as he needs either a talking to or a helping hand, we won’t see Mike’s story be pushed that far ahead into Breaking Bad-territory.

This episode referenced Alpine Shepherd Boy, my least favorite episode of the series at the time of writing, but when Amarillo slowed down a bit, with Mike waiting to see just who was shooting in Stacey’s neighborhood, it fared much better than Alpine Shepherd Boy did, which I had found to be a very slow episode.

My main problem with the B-story is based purely on expectations. Normally, in Better Call Saul, the B-story, which is to say the story involving only Mike, is as strong as the main story or, at select times, basically what keeps the episode chugging along. In Amarillo, however, I thought it was the least interesting part of the episode, and the content with the Ehrmantraut-family felt very ‘filler episode’-ish to me.

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. McGill.”

Returning now to the A-story, I must admit that this episode was very nerve-racking to me. From beginning to end, I couldn’t help but think about how Jimmy (played by Bob Odenkirk) was destroying his situated life as the Davis & Main-lawyer, Jimmy McGill. In Cobbler, we saw how Kim Wexler (played by Rhea Seehorn) was upset with Jimmy over having slipped again. Slippin’ Jimmy is not gone, he is very much in action in this episode, and it is sure to hurt both him, as well as the people around him.

Jimmy has a lot of great ideas that can help the Sandpiper Crossing-case, but he isn’t going at it by the book and Chuck (played by Michael McKean) knows it. I really wanted to be upset with Chuck at the HH&M and D&M meeting, but, when it comes to the case itself, Chuck is not doing anything wrong. Chuck is trying to win the case, and that means he has to dig into Jimmy a little bit, even if it hurts to see it happen right in front of us. We’ve reached a critical point in the show. We don’t necessarily see everything from the perspective of Jimmy anymore, Chuck and Kim have a point – he is going to lose them the case if he doesn’t stop while he’s ahead.

Speaking of the meeting, there was a really nice decision made by the crew. If you listen closely to the entire meeting, you’ll hear something crackle or rustle a little bit. I suspect that this is a deliberate choice to signal the noise made by Chuck in his ‘fancy’ foil suit. A genius touch for fans to notice, and others to shrug off as audio problems.

It was a lot of fun to see Jimmy speaking to new clients, and even better to see him create the Davis & Main-commercial, but every time Jimmy didn’t know what to do, or made a bad decision, he ended up breaking my heart in Amarillo. Jimmy is going to lose the Sandpiper Crossing-case, and will probably lose his job in the process – that is where I am at right now as far as speculation. Now we just need to see how many people he takes down with him in the process.

I do wonder if Jimmy is still just trying to test his limits, like he did in both Switch and Cobbler. What are his limitations as a good guy? But whenever he tests the limits just a tiny bit, he slips back into his old life, and he goes too far. This is a heartbreaking show, and Amarillo continues its pattern. Amarillo was another great episode of Better Call Saul, and would be a standout episode in lesser shows. It moved the plot ahead nicely, and I am still shocked at the excellent pace of the season so far. The next episode cannot come soon enough.

A-

I’m Jeffrey Rex

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