You know you’ve watched a good hour of television when you look back on it and realize nothing really happened, but it was great anyway.
Seriously, ask yourself what were the big events were of this Better Call Saul season 2 premiere episode? The longest scene was probably when Jimmy and Kim conned the obnoxious guy at the bar into buying them expensive tequila (oh, we’ll come back to “Ken” soon enough fellow Breaking Bad fans, trust me). Mike warned his client not to go it alone, but every scene revolving around that arc was relatively calm, and more about setting up much bigger problems later in the season.
Truly, nothing really happened beyond seeing Jimmy McGill fight against his natural instincts in an attempt to be a good man, and it was wonderful. If it looked like we might get more Saul than Jimmy this year after how season one ended, but we learned we still have plenty of fight left between the Light Side McGill and the Dark Side path we know he’s inevitably going to go down.
Just like the pilot episode, we opened with a reminder that what we are watching with in this prequel is a tragedy, with the black and white footage of an always looking over his shoulder Cinnabon manager regretting the decisions he made, reflecting on how he got here, alone in the world. It’s a reminder that no matter how much we like Jimmy and root for him he will not make it because of his own failings.
And boy were those failings brilliantly on display in that final scene. After taking the best job opportunity of his life, in repudiation of the skilled con-artist he is (and enjoys being), Jimmy McGill can’t help but fall victim to his own instinct to do exactly what he shouldn’t do. I half expected his new bosses to walk in right after he turned off that light switch and fire him on the spot, as though he had failed the final interview question. He survived today, but one way or another he won’t, not here, not in this life.
It’s why you can have an entire episode where nothing seemingly happens beyond characterization and setting up bigger events down the line, but still have it be so good. It’s ominous and frustrating, and that’s what makes it really heart-breaking. Here’s Jimmy McGill, who feels so good about life that he does the unthinkable—he trusts a Ziploc bag to keep his phone safely floating in a pool—but he can’t just turn off the switch of who he really is. What he wants and what he is are fighting a war that leads to being stuck inside a room of trash.
Eventually he will become Saul Goodman, but the longer we get to see him struggle against that change the more it will mean when it happens.
Almost nothing happened in this season two premiere, and it was perfect.
Before we go just a couple of random thoughts:
–I totally agree with Kim about the toothbrush thing.
–Having Jonathan Banks back in my life as Mike is probably one of the top five things going on in it.
—Rhea Seehorn‘s continued excellence should not go unnoticed either. Bob Odenkirk is worthy of all the praise his performance commands, but she manages to bring so much to the show in a much quieter role.
–No, you’re not crazy, Tequila Ken is the exact same Ken Wins that had (well, chronologically speaking will have) his car blown up by Walter White at the gas station in the fourth Breaking Bad episode.
Which just goes to show you that in this universe created by Vince Gilligan that crooked lawyers, crooked cops, crooked science teachers, meth dealers, white supremacists, and Lydia might get their comeuppance, but so do really obnoxious a-holes.
I thought the single worst part of season one was the inclusion of Tuco in the first two episodes, because it felt forced and undermined the independence the show needed to achieve from Breaking Bad, but this type of Easter egg felt much more natural, and as a result fun and honest.
If this is where season 2 is starting, we might be in for something really special this year.
What did you think of tonight’s Better Call Saul? Talk about it with us in the comments below.