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.
I really didn’t want my suspicion that Chuck was the one who decided not to hire Jimmy to be correct. However, when Chuck made a late night phone call, and Kim told Jimmy to take the deal that Hamlin offered him, I knew I was right. To the show and Jimmy’s credit, Jimmy works it out on his own. Jimmy’s a smart guy, but in Chuck’s opinion he’s not worthy of being a lawyer, which makes me think that Chuck is the worst kind of asshole. He lets his law partner take the blame for all the suffering he’s caused in his own brother’s career, then lets that same brother take care of him when he suffers a mental illness that makes him think he’s allergic to electricity.
The kicker is that Jimmy does all this legwork on a case (admittedly with Chuck’s help), then Chuck convinces him to take it to Hamlin Hamlin and McGill before stealing it out from his own brother’s nose, admittedly for a fee. And he continues to let Hamlin be the bad guy so that he can pretend the relationship with his brother is fine. What I really liked about this episode is that it showed that Kim really does care about Jimmy, and Hamlin at least has some sort of conscience, even if it does involve being the bad guy that Jimmy can hate. Hamlin tells Kim why he didn’t offer Jimmy a job, and Kim tells Jimmy to take the money, because she knows he’ll be hurt when he figures out that Chuck is the one who has been stonewalling his career. Rhea Seehorn is great, and her performance is beautifully understated, which means that when she gets mad it matters.
I have no idea what role Chuck will have in Better Call Saul going forward; this could be the thing that pushes Jimmy over the edge. He was denied a career at HHM, then he followed his brother’s advice and worked as a public defender. He started being an ambulance chaser and got involved with the Kettleman disaster, and when the Kettlemans maintained their innocence despite a big bag of money they were carrying around, he turned them in. It’s hurt Jimmy so much to do the right thing, and now that his own brother has taken away his first big case, he’ll probably change his name to Saul Goodman pretty soon. Or not, I don’t really know. But I have no idea whether he’ll ever want to have anything to do with Chuck ever again. I certainly wouldn’t.
Over in Mike land, he bought his granddaughter a puppy, and did a security job for a first time drug dealer who seems to work in pharmaceuticals. In the most awesome scene of the episode, Mike disarms one of the other guys hired for the job and takes away his four guns. It’s amazing that we knew Mike didn’t need a gun, but these people don’t know Mike the way the Breaking Bad audience does. Even if there are some people out there who are watching Better Call Saul without having seen Breaking Bad, they know how great Mike is in “Five-O”. Mike is the muscle on a deal with Michael Mando, aka Nacho, who works for Tuco. The deal took place without Tuco’s knowledge, so Mike knew he didn’t need a gun, because Nacho didn’t want it to get messy. What happens to Nacho? Will Tuco find out about this? Anyway, given that Jimmy has lost any hope of working with Chuck and Mike is starting to do ‘odd jobs’ for cash, I’m sure their paths will cross again soon. Certainly before Mike has to clean up Jesse’s house in “ABQ”.
- Are there only two law firms in Albuquerque? HHM and the one that represents Sandpiper? Because surely Jimmy could have gotten a job at another law firm instead of working with Chuck, even though it was his dream to practice law alongside his brother.
- I’m holding onto my wild theory that Jimmy is actually Chuck’s illegitimate son. I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s possible if Chuck fathered a child when he was about 15. If this is true, then Chuck is a worse father than a brother.
- The first season of Better Call Saul is only ten episodes long, so next week is the season finale! AMC renewed this show for a second season before it even aired, and I’m fairly sure season 2 has a full 13 episode order.
- I’m so bad at talking about performances in my reviews (I’m trying to integrate it more), but Bob Odenkirk was fantastic in this episode. His joy, his anger and his disappointment were all perfectly conveyed.
- I am all for episodes of television named after different types of cheese.
Local lawyer, local hero
I work with someone who lives puns, and I know he would have loved the origin story of Saul Goodman’s name (I actually just asked him about it, and he said the first time he heard the name Saul Goodman, he wondered if it was a play on words). I heard it and wondered why I’d never thought of it before. Just a heads up, I’m writing this on my phone again, so it’s going to be rough, with several strange words in here courtesy of autocorrect. I realised just now that the flashbacks to Slippin’ Jimmy are structured similarly to those in Jane the Virgin, but provide the audience with insight into Jimmy’s personality, whereas Jane’s flashbacks ate odd formative moments in her life. The difference is small, but it’s there.
This week’s flashback is of Jimmy and a friend, who pretends to be dead, fleecing some poor idiot out of money by taking the money out of his wallet and lifting a fake Rolex from his wrist. Jinny then fleeces the guy or of more money and the other guy runs away with a fake watch. We need to know how Jimmy’s cons work so that we’re not too surprised when the billboard thing is a stunt. I should have figured it out when Jimmy kept insisting that both he and the billboard are in the frame, but I was taken unawares, probably because I had to so the episode so many times. There are two people who aren’t convinced by Jimmy’s hero act: his brother, and Hamlin, who has asked Jimmy to use a different name for his practice. Now Jimmy has started a war with his brother’s law partner, who knows how far this will go.
What we know about Jimmy McGill is that he used to con people for money, and then he got his act together after he was arrested. Since then, he’s tried to make his name as a public defender, but what he really wants to do is start his own practice. The problem? “You look like a lawyer that guilty people hire.” This is what Mrs Kettleman tells Jimmy after he finds them camping in the woods to run away from their crime – they even have the 1.6 million they stole in a duffel bag but maintain their innocence, because Mr Kettleman never got paid for the overtime he did. Then they paid him a bribe. I wasn’t aware that he even took the bribe until he started buying the expensive suit. That billboard gag was great (why would anyone wear a woollen tie?).
What we have in Jimmy McGill is not the Walter White to Heisenberg transformation, but it seems that James McGill the lawyer is a departure from Jimmy’s true nature. He was Slippin’ Jimmy back in Illinois, and when we see him on Breaking Bad, Saul Goodman isn’t that different to Jimmy McGill. We learn about Walter White’s inner darkness throughout Breaking Bad as it manifests itself, but Better Call Saul is a different beast. Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have a difficult task in creating a prequel; we already know how Saul Goodman ended up in Nebraska, but we didn’t know how he became Saul Goodman. The answer is that Slippin’ Jimmy is Saul Goodman, but in trying to build up his reputation as a lawyer, Jimmy McGill wants to cultivate a certain image – I wonder how long it will be until he realises that being the kind of lawyer guilty people hire isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
A couple of days ago I started writing about the Emmys with an analysis of The Good Wife‘s submission tapes, because it’s the only show I know well enough to actually be able to do that. Yesterday I predicted the Emmy winers in the miniseries and movie categories because I haven’t seen anything that’s actually been nominated. But I’ve watched at least two episodes of each of the dramas that have been nominated this year (I’ve only seen two each of True Detective and the most recent season of House of Cards), so I can at least make serious predictions for some of these and the rest of them will probably be who I want to win. Some will be a mixture of the two, and when I make a True Detective prediction, it will be based on what television critics have said about the show. Also the McConaissance.