Previously on Better Call Saul, ‘Rico’
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Michael McKean, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando | Director: Thomas Schnauz
My, how things have changed.
A small-time litigator becomes a local hero and champion for the downtrodden. A newcomer who wants to find peace goes back into the fire that once consumed him. A man teetering on the edge of sanity snaps back to reality and is as shrewd as he’s ever been. As Better Call Saul nears the end of its inaugural season, each character has gone through their ups and down yet their respective paths have become clearer. Each, however, costing them something significantly.
If there’s one thing a person shouldn’t do when confronted with a line of burly men with questionable backgrounds, it’s pick on the old guy with a sack lunch. Every damn scene that Jonathan Banks is placed front and center has been pure gold, and his screen time in “Pimento” easily keeps the streak alive. Mike has seen and done nearly everything one could while working the beat, so very little could rattle his cage. Especially an upstart who tries to use Mike’s age against him. If you’re in a parking garage waiting on an assignment requested by a man who’s involved in criminal activity and see an older gent with a hundred yard stare, YOU DON’T TALK SHIT. If he’s still around and competing for your job, he knows a thing or two about a thing or two.
As it turns out, Mike did his research before the meet and knows more about Nacho (Michael Mando) than probably any authority in Albuquerque. Which is one of a few lessons he gave his nubile client free of charge: “If you’re going to be a criminal, do your homework.” Mike is no doubt a survivor, and knows what it takes to look after himself. Yet after his son’s death and reuniting with his daughter-in-law (Kerry Condon) and granddaughter, he’s had to widen his field of view to ensure they made it out of the hole as well. For one brief instance, this newfound charge in Mike looked after his bumbling client, who was unsure about his future criminal enterprise. As witnessed in Breaking Bad, Mike tutored very few with relative success. Despite his gruff nature, Mike has a nurturing soul and is prepared to impart his wisdom to those willing to listen.
It’s certainly the opposite case for Jimmy, who learned the hard way that his very own brother has little regard for his professional standing. Notwithstanding a steady improvement in his legal acumen AND acquiring a potentially huge case with a substantial payday, Jimmy is still shut out by HHM. After spitting out a brutal diatribe at Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), the clues started to piece together once Jimmy stopped seeing red.
Ultimately, Jimmy received his harsh dose of reality that everyone intentionally and indirectly shielded him from for years… his brother is a dick. As much pride and admiration Jimmy had for his successful big brother, Chuck had equal parts disdain and resentment for his younger, wisecracking sibling. Slippin’ Jimmy was a rock that hung from Chuck’s neck, a vexing bulky curse that was source of continual pain and embarrassment. The torment Chuck experienced because of Jimmy’s actions apparently isn’t something he cannot let go of, despite the obvious turnaround Jimmy had made throughout the season.
It wasn’t the shame, however, so much as the disgust Chuck felt when Jimmy stated his desire to work with his brother as an equal. Oh, the sheer audacity! How could he?! James wasn’t asking to be partner (although his case is enough to argue the merits of that argument), all he wants is Chuck’s respect. An affirmation Jimmy knows he’ll never receive given the emotional assault he succumbed.
Ironically, everything Jimmy knew about his life since being released from county jail has been a fraud. Hamlin isn’t as evil and manipulative as he assumed. Kim isn’t bought and paid for by HHM like Jimmy feared. Neither of them are directly responsible for blocking his path towards legitimacy; Chuck has been pulling the strings all along. Although part of Chuck’s reasoning is valid, he’s made more trouble by restraining Jimmy who will undoubtedly become more dogged in his pursuit to be known as a talented lawyer. A monkey with a machine gun, Chuck? Jimmy’s more like an elephant with a flamethrower now.
Better Call Saul’s season finale “Marco” airs Monday April 6 at 10pm, on AMC.