The first season of AMC’s Better Call Saul did something that fell somewhere on the difficulty spectrum between “Tricky” and “Borderline Impossible”: It took a spinoff of one of the most beloved and critically-acclaimed shows of its era and made it a success. In hindsight, we probably should have seen it coming. The show came from Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and longtime Breaking Bad producer and writer Peter Gould, and it starred Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, and maybe everyone should have just trusted that all those people didn’t suddenly forget how to make a quality television program. But at the time, I mean, what was the precedent there? Frasier? And does that make Chuck McGill Niles in this analogy? Because that almost works, but then who’s Daphne? His tin foil suit? The whole thing just falls apart too quickly.
The point I’m getting at here is that season one of Better Call Saul was very good, and the second season, which debuts on February 15, is off to another strong start through the two episodes released to critics.
Season two picks up moments before season one ended and hits the audience with an immediate swerve. (Season one drops on Netflix February 1, so it might be good to double back on the finale — or just the last 10 minutes, or the entire season, up to you — before picking things up again.) We end up exactly where we ended up before, with Jimmy saying “I know what stopped me and it’s never stopping me again” and speeding away from the courthouse humming “Smoke on the Water,” but it fills things in a little and sets up his next step. Which, as pictured above, involves floating in a lazy river and drinking grifted boat drinks for a bit. It’s a fun step.
And that, as they say, remains the rub. Jimmy’s tormented by the push and pull between flim-flam man and respected member of the legal community, which he seems to want to be equally at different times, even while knowing he can’t really have both. He can combine them to make a suspicious flim-flam lawyer — which, as we know, he will — but right now we’re still mid-struggle. So, yes, he will put the suit back on and continue pushing forward with the big nursing home case he and Chuck started working on last season, but he’ll also fudge the lines a bit in some other areas, and his eyes will light up with glee when he does.