Previously on Better Call Saul, ‘Cobbler’
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Michael McKean, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, Kerry Condon, Ed Begley Jr., Jesse Ennis, Omar Maskati, Carol Herman, Joe DeRosa | Writer: Jonathan Glatzer | Director: Scott Winant
Jimmy has difficulties performing beyond his comfort zone that borders on illegality. McGill tries harder for Kim’s sake and succeeds in client outreach… though his ambition may be his undoing. Meanwhile, Mike is concerned for his daughter-in-law’s safety, as she claims people are harassing her. Low on cash, Ehrmantraut accepts more dangerous jobs. By sheer happenstance, Mike’s first assignment reunites him with a recent rival.
I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE UP, MR. MCGILL
It’s funny how quickly everyone is ready jump on Jimmy despite the extraordinary effort he’s applied in being a (marginally) respectable member of society. True, McGill does have an extensive history of fucking up but “Slippin’ Jimmy” in his full form hasn’t been seen in some time. Notwithstanding, Chuck, Kim and Howard are ready to pounce at any time. In “Amarillo” their apprehension in Jimmy’s and his responsibilities was justified because he may have kinda sorta solicited his services to a bus full of seniors on their way to a 4pm dinner party.
It’s been well recorded that Jimmy suffers from lapses of judgement on occasion. Nevertheless, McGill has always delivered, even during those almost-fiascos. When he finally does something by the book as he did in “Amarillo”, he gets grilled by Clifford Main. And hard. It’s understandable to viewers now why Cliff plays his guitar in his office during the day: underneath that calm, likely nag champa-scented exterior is a raging volcano of bile and draconian oversight.
Everyone could deflect all their grief and frustrations on Jimmy, but to be fair, they knew exactly who they were calling up to the big game. It’s clear James loves to practice law and genuinely cares for his senior clients. Unfortunately the lure of a big payday shuts down the rational parts of his brain. Crazy thing is, Jimmy actually did something right for once. He simply forgot to ask the boss if he should air a relatively benign commercial – that Jimmy directed and paid for on his own, by the way – to attract more Sandpiper clients. Between this intentional innocent mistake and Chuck’s intimidating presence hawking over Jimmy’s every move, the younger McGill is quickly cracking under the pressure.
Honestly, it doesn’t seem that terrible an offense. It’s not like Davis and Main’s reputation will be ruined or anything… right? Right???
GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND
Since her first appearance, Stacey (Kerry Condon) always appeared to be a faintly underhanded character. Never one to ask questions until that one fateful conversation with Mike, Stacey – a prideful widow of a slain cop – quickly adapted to the notion of taking Mike’s “help”. Irony. For reasons supposedly unknown to her, Stacey believes she’s being harassed by three men who expressly roll through her neighborhood to fire shots around her house. Of course Mike takes Stacey’s concerns seriously and stakes out her place that night without her knowledge.
Thinking he found the source of her anxiety, Ehrmantraut gets a call the next morning about the unknown tormentors and that’s when his doubt sets in.
Like last week’s “Cobbler”, Jonathan Banks ran through a sweep of emotions at the most critical of moments. Thanks to his inclusion in Saul, viewers have come to realize how much of a softie Mike is in spite of his indomitably stoic visage. Mike’s reputation proceeds him in the rugged landscape of dealers, hustlers and killers. He’d no sooner smile than put a bullet between your eyes. All the misery and shit he saw for decades on the streets of Philadelphia, being on the take with nearly his entire precinct and coming back to tie up loose ends… imagine the toll that would have on one’s view of things. If it wasn’t for his granddaughter, Mike would be the quintessential nihilist. Never caring and unable to find any hint of joy.
This is why Ehrmantraut has to believe in Stacey. Just as Kim is anchored to Jimmy professionally, Mike is risking the last glimmer of his humanity on the girls. He finally feels alive and a sense of purpose in his wretched existence. Regrettably, Mike is now at a crossroads. He’s enjoying time with Kaylee and rediscovering that warmth and affection that was sorely lacking for practically half his life. All the same, Stacey’s erratic behavior and the monetary demands between her and Kaylee force his hand to seek jobs his old self had no problem accepting before Albuquerque. This latest job Mike accepts with Nacho (Michael Mando) could potentially shatter all the progress made the past few months with a single shot.
For Jimmy and Mike, life appears ready to give them yet another swift kick in the ass next Monday in “Gloves Off” at 10/9c on AMC!
Better Call Saul S2E3
When one thinks they finally have a bead on who Jimmy McGill is, he zigs when everyone expects him to zag. For most of the first season, it appeared James had the ambition to be an ace lawyer and only lacked the support; now it’s the other way around. Kim shoehorns McGill a place in an outstanding firm, acquires a corner office and a company car, and is on track to possibly become a partner. The world could be his however the pressure of walking the right path drives Jimmy back to unruly habits that could/will cost him everything. That’s one of the cool things about Better Call Saul: viewers know what’s ahead for McGill yet the reasons are as engrossing as the colorful character he’ll eventually create.
Based on the few allusions in “Amarillo”, Jimmy may not transform into Saul because he fell from grace in a monumental way… but simply from a fear of success. The increasingly prominent side story featuring Mike and his family has been compelling and in parts humorous (thanks to Daniel Warmolt), and all signs point to Stacey becoming more of a burden than blessing for Ehrmantraut. For a man who desired a respite from the madness he was swimming in for most of his career, jumping back in for the love of family attests to his resolve – and the disquieting demands of Stacey and her mysterious bullies.