‘Better Call Saul’ Recap: ‘It’s Showtime, Folks’


Two things going on here: Bad Jimmy and Good Jimmy.

Bad Jimmy is the one we saw at the end of the premiere getting dragged into Tuco’s abuelita’s house, and the one we saw facing the same fate about 10 minutes into last night’s episode, after we first found out what happened to his skateboard nimrod associates. (“Biznatch,” cane, face.) Bad Jimmy is also the one who was kneeling in the New Mexico desert with a sharp instrument digging into his flesh while he tried to save his life with a tall tale about being an undercover FBI agent named Jeffrey Steel. Bad Jimmy has problems.

(Quick aside: That scene in the desert was visually stunning, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise seeing as the episode was directed by Breaking Bad veteran Michelle McLaren. It wasn’t just the desert scene that caught my eye, either. The two musical segments in the episode — the one while Jimmy’s on a date and the one of him getting his public defending on — were both really cool, too. The point I’m making here is that Michele McLaren is a good director.)

Good Jimmy, on the other hand, is the one who doubles back after Tuco sets him free and negotiates hard to get the nimrods’ legs broken instead of their throats slit (or as Jimmy put it, get their death sentences reduced to six months probation), even though it put him very much back in peril. And the one in both of the montages, first having a vomit-inducing crisis of conscience during a date with a bubbly blonde that led to a self-loathing bender, then attempting to right the ship at the public defender’s office — with the assistance of a stuffed kitty bribe — to get the legitimate side of his career moving again after his dalliance with the darker side of the law.

Right now, the Good Jimmy/Bad Jimmy split is probably somewhere around 70/30, or maybe 80/20, in favor of Good. At some point, that ratio is going to change and possibly even flip, which we know for certain because, again, prequel. Perhaps that slide will start as soon as next episode, with the assistance of Tuco’s associate Nacho, who seems to already know it’s coming (maybe he watched Breaking Bad, too). My working theory is that once that ratio dips below 50/50, Bad Jimmy is no longer “Bad Jimmy.” Bad Jimmy is then officially Saul.


My favorite scene from last night was definitely the negotiation in the desert, but my second favorite was probably the conversation between Jimmy and Chuck the morning after Jimmy came tumbling in drunk and full of electromagnetism. Two broken-ass people telling each other to get their lives together. What’s better than that? On one side, a man in the middle of a mental breakdown chastising his violently hungover younger brother about backsliding into his old huckster ways. On the other side, a backsliding huckster repeatedly insisting that his more successful, now-troubled older brother — who had recently flung a cell phone into his yard using kitchen tongs — “take off the space blanket.” There’s an interesting dynamic brewing there.

One other note: I apologize for getting ahead of myself here, and I swear I’ll try to do it less once the novelty of the prequel wears off a bit, but… what happens to Chuck? He’s clearly a big part of Jimmy’s life in a handful of ways (Jimmy is both his caretaker and the little brother living in his giant shadow), but I can’t recall Saul ever mentioning him on Breaking Bad. Now, that show wasn’t Saul’s story like it was Walt’s, so maybe it just didn’t come up during Saul’s brief appearances in Walt’s life (I don’t think I’d want my lawyer telling me about his troubled family life for huge chunks of a billable hour). But still, for it to never be a thing, it feels like something pretty dramatic is going to happen, either to Chuck or their relationship, or both. Whaaaaaaaaaat is it?


Stray thoughts:

– Would I watch a five-minute montage of Bob Odenkirk shouting insults and doing troll dances directed at a totally stoic, glass-encased Jonathan Banks? I do believe I would.

– Similarly, would I watch multiple seasons of a cable drama titled Operation Kingbreaker that followed the adventures of an FBI operative named Special Agent Jeffrey A. Steel, who was doing deep undercover work as a struggling lawyer who drummed up business by staging car accidents on busy street corners? Also, yes.

– In the grand history of attempted grifts and schemes ruined by Albuquerque station wagon mix-ups, I’ve got to believe Jimmy’s plot to get the Kettlemans’ business that resulted in two people getting their legs broken in the desert by a violent sociopath was one of the worst. Top five, at least.

– One of the guiding principles of my life for the past 10-15 years has been that nothing good happens in the woods. After watching Breaking Bad and the first two episodes of Better Call Saul, please add “or the desert” to the end of that statement.


Your thoughts below.