Review: Better Call Saul (Season 2, Episode 1)

Will this be the format of every season opener? A glimpse into Jimmy a.k.a. Saul’s forsaken existence now at a Cinnabon where he is cautiously incognito as a worker bee. If so, please be in perpetuity because I love that not only does Vince Gilligan honor the past that molded Saul but he also teases us with the nirvanic future of what Saul has reaped from his actions. It’s shot entirely black-and-white which symbolizes how bland and vanilla Jimmy’s surroundings are.

It’s a Harmony Korine slice-of-life with Jimmy once again taking out the trash in a much more literal sense than when he was an egregious defense lawyer. Gilligan is a genius about milking details for their esoteric insight which is why Jimmy flirts with risk by almost neglecting the emergency door warning. Jimmy is in the Book of Job where his luck has run dry but he still wants to leave his mark. This prologue could be a feeding frenzy of analysis for a screenwriting semiotics class and I don’t mean that as a slight, it was quietly absorbing with a wraparound revelation to the label in Jimmy’s office at Davis and Maine.

After relinquishing the bounty of treasurer money last season, Jimmy has qualms about “doing the right thing” because it didn’t work advantageously in his relationship with Kim. Mike’s interaction with the flashy Pryce was priceless in how naive and Midwestern Pryce was acting about paying Mike such an exorbitant fee for bodyguard services (“Easy-peasy job.”). The rookie mistake was not that Nacho pummeled Pryce but that he allowed him to slither into the passenger’s seat and see who possesses ownership of the vehicle.

With Jimmy’s career in limbo, the metamorphosis from Jimmy to Saul is predicated on basking in the sun-bathing limelight. Odenkirk erects the complexity inside Saul’s dual conscience. He loves the pitching-salesman aspect of law but loathes the low rewards associated with it. On a sidenote, has Ed Begley Jr. aged a day?

The savvy scene in the clubhouse bar links directly back to Breaking Bad when Saul persuaded Jessie Pinkman in diversifying his funds as means of laundering the source of it. The stockbroker began as a motormouth caricature but he evolved into a suave ambulance-chaser when he overheard their false inheritance story. It’s always blissful when Gilligan uses Saul’s intellect to turn the tables on other predators in the vicinity.

It cannot overstate how homely and irresistible that morning-after scene was between Jimmy and Kim with the couple playfully taunting each other about toothbrush hygiene. It was a bittersweet reminder that whatever romance they have will be regretfully short-lived. In summary, Better Call Saul is a different beast than Breaking Bad but it is no less clever about the green-eyed corruption of someone with noble intentions. With the pinkie ring on hand, Saul is at Jimmy’s doorway with his money-grubbing arms wide open.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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