Better Call Saul, Season 1 Episode 10: “Marco”

Saul Goodman was Jimmy McGill’s conman name, other than of course, Slippin’ Jimmy. “S’all good, man!” is a phrase uttered by people who are happy and carefree, and Jimmy McGill is neither of those things following the realisation that it wasn’t Howard Hamlin, but his own brother, who roadblocked his career as a lawyer. And really, it makes sense. Howard didn’t know Slippin’ Jimmy, he just heard about it from Chuck, and when he finally met Jimmy, he saw a man who was trying to turn his life around. Now Jimmy McGill is a man who did turn his life around, got a law degree, worked as a public defender and in his work doing wills for the elderly, stumbled upon a huge class action case. Jimmy worked damn hard to get where he is, and he deserves that job at the Santa Fe law firm, but he’s a broken man.

What sets the good television shows from the great ones is the fact that sure, there may be gunslinging and plot twists, but there are always great characters at the core. Breaking Bad was Walter White’s journey from “Mr Chips to Scarface”, as Vince Gilligan said several times, and Jimmy McGill who was a man who got away with doing the wrong thing so many times and whenever he tried to do the right thing, it blew up in his face. His own brother thinks he’s unworthy of being a lawyer. One of the best moments of “Marco”, was when Jimmy went to see Howard, and gave him the list of things that Chuck needed every day, and Howard said “You’ve been doing all this for over a year?” Jimmy’s earned respect from Howard and Kim, but the person who matters to him most in the world will never respect him, and that’s what hurts the most. When Jimmy tells Marco that he needs to go back to Albuquerque because Chuck needs him and Marco tells Jimmy that Chuck doesn’t even like him, Jimmy knows that’s true. It’s no wonder he decides to do one last Rolex con with the one person who liked him for who he was.

We also found out this week what Jimmy did to get arrested back in Illinois, which was defecate in a connected man’s car while his children were in it. We, and the people at Bingo, learn this when Jimmy is reading out the numbers, and can’t handle the fact that he keeps getting B for brother. There were concerns that Bob Odenkirk wouldn’t be up to carrying his own television show, but his performance in Better Call Saul has been outstanding. Watching him awkwardly lose control in front of a number of elderly people was incredibly uncomfortable, but it’s undeniable that Jimmy is broken. So he heads off to Chicago (I just looked up Cicero, and it’s in Cook County, which means Jimmy could have voted for the Florricks) to hang out with Marco, the one person who knows who he is and likes it. Marco has gotten a job at his brother-in-law’s company, but he’s still at that bar. Then Jimmy’s back and they do a con together, there’s this fantastic montage of the two of them conning their way through Chicago. The best part? Jimmy was only there for a week. When he was checking the messages on his phone, I thought that he may have been there for a month or so, but no.

While having a smoke outside the church where Marco’s funeral is being held (he meets his untimely end while they try to pull of one last Rolex con), Jimmy gets a call from Kim. She tells him that the Sandpiper class action has gotten so big that they’re bringing a firm from Santa Fe in on it. That firm also wants to hire Jimmy on a partner track. It turns out that Jimmy is really good at sales and customer service; his clients love him and were calling him to see where he was while he was away because he was good at his job. But that’s not what Jimmy wants. He has 20 grand from HHM, and he doesn’t want to work in a law firm if it’s not with Chuck. He probably realises now that he doesn’t want to be like Chuck at all, and now his best friend is dead. If I had been through all of that, I’d wonder why I returned a million dollars to the local government too. Jimmy McGill is a good conman and a good lawyer. We know he can make those two things work together, now we just need to see how he gets there.

Other thoughts:

  • I was really not confident about this show going in, but it has been absolutely delightful to watch. Saul wasn’t my favourite character in Breaking Bad, but I’m interested to see how I feel about him if I ever choose to rewatch it.
  • Is anyone watching this show without having seen Breaking Bad? If they are, I hope they’re blogging about it, because that would be great. Also if I was in that position, I probably would have already started watching Breaking Bad.
  • I’m really glad the next season is a full 13 episode order, I thought the ten episodes worked well, but I’ve loved revisiting this world.
  • AMC definitely did the right thing ordering this show now that Mad Men is ending. Sure, they have a hit in The Walking Dead, which I don’t watch, but the creative heights they managed to reach with Mad Men and Breaking Bad as their first two forays into original scripted programming was amazing.
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