Previously on Better Call Saul
Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, Michael McKean, Mark Proksch, Eileen Fogarty | Writer & Director: Thomas Schnauz
Jimmy has returned to Albuquerque and appears to be up to his old antics again. No longer tied down by his brother Charles or holding ill will towards Howard Hamlin, McGill decides to call it a career in law (for a hot second). Ultimately, Jimmy remains conflicted as his love for Kim and call to help the exploited forces him on the straight and narrow path. However, the itch to make mad stacks by questionable means lingers.
DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR THE WRONG REASONS
Beginning a few days after Jimmy’s jaunt through Cicero, a gamut of emotions are swirling through the embattled McGill. Kim (Rhea Seehorn) has practically given him the keys to a lucrative future with a law firm that’ll appreciate this particular skill set. It’s painfully obvious that Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) wants something steady with Kim and to become the man she believes he can be. That life she and the rest of her contemporaries strive for undoubtedly isn’t for Slippin’ Jimmy, no matter how many times he attempts to smash that square peg in the round hole.
Practicing law remains a passion, but the idea of grabbing a big score – like the one that slipped through his fingers last season – burns through McGill so intensely he could conceivably torch all his bridges to ruin if he isn’t careful. Considering viewers have seen his near-future in Breaking Bad, Jimmy’s present circle of friends and supporters will be completely dissolved… or perhaps not. Then again, he spent a lot of his free time with a burnout who barely graduated high school.
FALLING FOR THE OL’ SOUTH AFRICAN SIBLINGS TRICK
The highlight of “Switch” was Jimmy and Kim’s quietly intense dispute and highly successful con on a pompous, Bluetooth-wearing jerkoff named Ken, played with cutting accuracy by Kyle Bornheimer (Angel from Hell, Agent Carter, Brooklyn Nine-Nine). Bornheimer does what he does best: smugly apply buckets of condescension and shit talking in a scene so forcefully, our morally compromised lead appears as an angel among saints. During a tense conversation with Kim about his future, Jimmy can’t help but eavesdrop on Ken’s conversation about swindling suckers and decides to enact a bit justice.
This episode’s scam is one of the oldest in the history of cons: a Pig in a Poke aka Cat in the Bag. Essentially, a mark is lead to believe he’s buying something when he’s actually acquiring a lemon, or possibly nothing at all. In James and Kim’s scheme they are Viktor and Gisele, brother and sister of Dutch South African descent who recently received an inheritance and have no clue how to invest in the stock market.
Odenkirk’s delivery during these scenes is as smooth as a jar of Skippy, showcasing Jimmy’s talent for getting whatever he wants by doing as little as possible. Emphasizing key words and phrases to convince Ken he has the upper hand throughout their meeting was such a masterstroke, even Kim eventually joined in on the con.
Naturally, Ken pounces on this airy opportunity like a comedian with baggie full of barbiturates and makes the seemingly doltish duo sign away their newfound fortune. McGill and Wexler got the last laugh of course, because with their choice words and feigning moments of humility, they left Ken with the bill after ordering some of the most expensive items on the menu. And all it took was a bullshit story and a pair of fake signatures on a document of dubious intent.
It’s clear Jimmy meant to teach Kim a lesson about his formidable albeit slightly wicked abilities, and how effective they can be to fulfill his brand of good. It did work for the night but as soon as day broke, Kim was back to business and the door was closed on McGill once more.
YOU’RE AN IDIOT, DANIEL WARMOLT
How many of you threw your arms up in the air and yelled at the television when Danny Boy fouled up over and over and over again? Everyone in “Switch” is, in some degree, dipping their toe in the water to see if the life they think they want is worth the effort. While Jimmy continues to struggle with his moral quandaries and Kim is conflicted about her relationship with McGill, Daniel has thrown all caution to the wind to make a hella bank hella fast. Having only been in the drug game for perhaps a month, Warmolt has already taken his idiocy to extreme levels by purchasing a goddamn eyesore of a gas guzzler – with equally ridiculous sneakers to match.
For all his character’s glaring faults, Mark Proksch has brought the entertaining balance of empathy and folly in bringing this annoyingly pleasant moron to life. Like everyone featured in “Switch”, Daniel is a person who’s willing to take major risks to know if the grass is greener on the other side. The confounding thing is he’s already flush. Working in IT at a pharmaceutical firm certainly doesn’t equate to him living hand to mouth. He’s not desperate to find himself like Jimmy. Warmolt is simply greedy and a showboat to boot, which are qualities true career criminals despise, evidenced by Mike’s immediate departure as Daniel’s bodyguard/crime Yoda.
It didn’t take long for Nacho (Michael Mando) and the APD to take advantage of this hapless wannabe kingpin. Clearly, the man is unable to put a string a words together to create a convincing story, and the cops cannot wait to bring the hammer down on Warmort hard. No doubt he’ll put Mike on the hotseat yet again, then reliable huckster Jimmy will have to step in and persuade the authorities that they’ve jackshit on either one. Imagine… all this potential stress because of one man’s need to lease an ugly-ass Hummer.
The hijinks will ensue next Monday at 10/9c in “Cobbler” on AMC!
Better Call Saul S2E1
An excellent premiere, the story picked up almost exactly where the season finale concluded and nary missed a beat. Odenkirk and the writing staff have already cranked up the empathy to an eleven for the cantankerous McGill, who is sadly destined to a future of danger and disappointment. As terrible as he believes his situation is, it’s obvious in the flash-forwards that “Gene” laments his current station as a Cinnabon manager in Omaha. He had the genuine affections of a woman he’s longed for, TWO opportunities for a promising career, and the growing respect of his associates.
In the end, Jimmy’s old habits were hard to break, and they succeeded in shattering his old life to pieces.
If this level of excellence can be maintained for the entire season, Better Call Saul will certainly have every opportunity to be known as one of the better shows on television today.