Better Call Saul: Season two, episode one: Switch

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I love these two together. I hope it doesn’t end too harshly.

It’s fair to say the first season of Better Call Saul wasn’t quite what anyone was expecting.

Sure, there were plenty of japes as “Slippin’ Jimmy” McGill worked his magic on unsuspecting marks, but there was also pathos by the bucketload.

His desperate attempts to win his brother’s approval, his bingo calling as he tried to pull together a big-bucks class action, his dashed dream of a corner office … frankly it all got a bit much. And I felt a little cheated at the end, when he walked away from his big chance at respectability … but if Breaking Bad taught us one thing, it’s that a man’s pride and need to feel in control is a powerful force indeed.

And so to season two. Call me impatient, but I’m hoping our loyalty will be rewarded with a little more of the crossover action that Better Call Saul implicitly promises. I want to see some Breaking Bad favourites, even if they just have cameo roles in new stories.

The likeable, sensible and straight-talking Kim is the perfect antidote to Saul, and better than all of Breaking Bad’s female characters put together. Crucially, however, she’s not so sensible that she won’t play along with  Jimmy’s tequila-soaked con. I wondered if she might even jump in the swimming pool in a much-more-cheerful echo of Skylar’s late-night dip.

Jimmy tells her he wants to stop throwing good money (and effort) after bad by quitting the law, recognising the perils of the sunk cost fallacy. But in the end, having come this far, he can’t just walk away. After a few days on a lilo he comes to his senses and takes the job. And I’m glad – because Jimmy is not Walt. He’s not afraid to change course, or take advice, or eat a bit of humble pie.

So the question now is how long he will last in his plush new surroundings, where presumably he can order as much cucumber water as he wants for his personal office fridge. It’s certainly a long way from here to being locked in the bin room of a shopping mall, too scared to summon the police…

Notes

Did I really hear stockbroker Ken refer to “the deathbed queef”?

Kim’s quite right – that pinky ring is super-weird. As is sharing a toothbrush.

It’s always very satisfying to see completely non-bumbling police officers on screen. Our clown-car drug dealer is toast.

Further reading

The Guardian has a fantastic interview with the show’s creators Vince Gilligan and co-writer Peter Gould. Says Giligan: “I was worried we weren’t going to get to Saul fast enough. Now I’m worried we’ll get to him too fast because I realise just how great Jimmy is as a character. He really carries his own show.”

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5 comments

  1. I completely adore Jimmy and Kim together. Their will-they-won’t -they-are-they-aren’t-they relationship is tantalisingly ambiguous. Season 1 left me with the sense that the whole Chuck betrayal debacle was something of a red herring when it comes to Jimmy’s real tipping point, with my overarching feeling being that the actual final straw will be losing the love of his life, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn plays her with such subtlety and understated warmth, she really is a revelation). I think she will break Jimmy’s heart in one way or another and in losing her he will lose what is left of his real, lovable self and descend into the slimy (but entertaining) Saul Goodman we knew in BB. ‘Switch’ has only strengthened my suspicion that might be it. Of course I could be wrong, but……. Cherchez la femme.

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    • I wonder if there will be a Kim-based motivation for Saul crossing a line in terms of risk, if not morality. Does he ever actually set out to secure so many dangerous characters as clients? That seems quite a leap from the scams and moral grey areas he’s dabbled in so far, especially given he ran a mile from teaming up with Nacho in season one. It has occurred to me since watching last week’s episode that we don’t know for sure Kim is off the scene by the time Saul first encounters Walter and Jesse, but it would certainly be surprising if she was around for much of that era.

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  2. I never got the feeling SG had a ‘significant other’ in the BB era. Some of the suggestions/advice he gave Walt regarding wives and family hinted at a leaning towards being a lone wolf, plus his predilections for “big flat-screen TV, 50 channels of pay-per-view” and his chiroprator who “adjusts you to completion, and is every bit as delicious as she sounds” made me think he was mostly likely paying for it rather than involved with someone. He also attempted to clumsily (and perhaps desperately?) flirt with his receptionist/secretary Francesca on a few occasions. Of course none of that means Kim wasn’t around, but my feeling is still that him losing her ultimately transformed him into man we knew by the time of BB. All I know is I can’t wait to find out and will happily be proven wrong! Vince Gilligan and co truly know how to develop their characters and exhibit all their murky shades of grey. That’s what makes their shows so remarkable I think.

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