BETTER CAUL SAUL: S02E03

AMARILLO – 8.5/10.

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If there is one thing that Jimmy McGill understands, it’s the value of showmanship. Whether he is working a room of retirees or trying to convince Kim of his good intentions, Jimmy is always on. While he does his best to maintain his performance for the rest of the world, we are able to glimpse through the cracks to see the uncertainty that lies at his core. He knows that what he is doing is wrong but it’s almost like he can’t help himself, it just comes naturally. This week’s episode demonstrated just how effective a showman Jimmy can be. But his actions come at a cost, to both his career and his relationship with Kim. Jimmy isn’t the only one maintaining a performance this week as Mike also wears a mask, but only to do what he feels is best for his family.

With the case continuing to build against Sandpiper Crossing, Jimmy takes a less than kosher trip to Texas complete with a bolo tie and ten gallon cowboy hat. He bribes the driver of a Sandpiper Crossing minivan to let him on board where he proceeds to schmooze the residents, gaining even more signatures for the case. While Clifford Main and Howard seem delighted by Jimmy’s success, Chuck knows his brother well enough to suspect foul play. He accuses Jimmy of solicitation in an attempt to publically undermine him. Jimmy denies it, which is of course a lie; he knows it, Chuck knows it and Kim knows it as well. Kim has gone out on a limb for Jimmy, and if he screws things up at Davis & Main then it puts a target on her. Realising this, Jimmy promises to find another way.

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Plan B is to create a low budget advert starring his elderly, porcelain doll collecting client. While both legitimate and effective it is also far more fitting with tactics of Saul Goodman than that of Davis & Main. Realising this, Jimmy decides to run the advert without Clifford’s approval, assuming that he can simply wow his boss later when the calls start rolling in. While the advert is an unmitigated success and the calls do roll in, Clifford is far from thrilled by Jimmy’s use of initiative. When his romantic evening with Kim is interrupted by an angry call summoning him before the partners, Jimmy makes yet another poor choice; he lies to Kim. He didn’t heed her warning and now it could cost them both. He may not know why, but somewhere Chuck McGill is smiling in smug satisfaction.

Mike also keeps the truth from someone he loves this week, but for far more noble reasons than Jimmy. His daughter in law, Stacey, has never fully recovered from her husband’s murder and it clearly still haunts her. She can no longer sleep and finds herself tormented by the sound of gun shots every night. After spending the night outside her house, Mike discovers that the gun shots are nothing more than the sound of the morning papers being thrown on the door step. However sensing that she needs help, he decides not to tell her and instead offers to take in Stacey and his granddaughter while he helps to find them a new home. But to do this he needs more money, which is why he finds himself accepting an ominous job offer from none other than Nacho.

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Better Call Saul is an expertly crafted tragedy, both Jimmy and Mike are destined on a path to catastrophe and we saw the seeds of their doom being sown in this episode. Jimmy had ample opportunity to do the right thing but he chose not to. Why didn’t he show Clifford the advert before he ran it? Maybe due to his own hubris or a simple desire to see Chuck eat his words, either way there will be consequences that affect Jimmy and the only person who has ever believed in him. While Jimmy may be the architect of his own undoing, Mike is a victim of his stoic sense of duty. The final season of Breaking Bad showed us that his only concern is to provide for his son’s family and he is willing to go to any length to do so, even if that means making someone ‘go away’ for Nacho.

The writing for Better Caul Saul is never anything less than fantastic and this episode was no exception, using seemingly mundane moments to build incredible tension. Stand out scenes include Jimmy waiting for the phone to ring and Mike watching the paper boy’s car draw slowly closer towards him. A character staring at a phone shouldn’t be that nerve wracking, but it is! Vince Gilligan manages to achieve an incredible level of both drama and comedy without having to do much other than let the characters be themselves, for better or worse. This is perfectly epitomised in the opening moments of the episode where Cowboy Jimmy works his magic over an entire bus full of potential clients. But will his silver tongue be enough to save both him and Kim from the fall out that is heading their way?

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POINTS OF INTEREST

  • Kim raises a good point, why do executive apartments have bowls of dried balls? What purpose do they actually serve?
  • Can Mike really trust Nacho? Maybe he earned the young man’s respect after their last encounter, or maybe Nacho is looking for revenge. We will have to wait and see.
  • It was interesting to see how quickly Clifford dropped his pretence of being the ‘cool’ boss, accusing Jimmy of being an “arsonist” for running the commercial without permission.
  • How exactly does a vet have so many illegal connections?
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