Throughout the second season of “Better Call Saul”, we have been seeing flashes of the attorney that will eventually become Walter White’s most trusted adviser. But the fact of the matter is while Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk, displaying depths that you would not think him capable of) has been showing off bits and pieces of Saul Goodman, there is still a lot of the humanity that we saw in him.
What is more, we can see that much of this has always been in him, thanks to the intriguing flashbacks that have become more and more common, as well as the tales that his defective, but still cagy brother Chuck has been telling. Part of it has to do with their father, who owned a convenience store when they lived in Chicago. Chuck (Michael McKean, continuing to demonstrate Emmy worthy growth) has always been convinced that Jimmy helped drive their father to an early grave, swindling him out of money. But maybe the problem was that Jimmy was always cagier than his father, as we saw in one memorable sequence when he was just twelve. Or maybe it’s something deeper. As we saw in the season finale, when their mother was on their deathbed, the one she asked for in her final moments was Jimmy not Chuck. Maybe Chuck has never been able to get over the fact that his brother has always been the more charming one.
And despite everything that the two have been through over the years, Jimmy still cares for his brother. After covering up a major plot (we’ll get to that in a minute) Chuck despite his problems with electricity, which he seemed a lot closer to overcoming throughout season 2, finally climaxed in a major collapse in last night’s episode. Hospitalized much against his will, Jimmy went to an incredible amount of work to make sure that his brother got the medical treatment that he needed. Signing a temporary guardianship order, then staying all night as his brother was a catatonic state, and then more than willing to relinquish custody once Chuck was all right showed a lot more compassion his brother thought he was capable of.
And then Chuck rewarded him by stabbing him in the back. Demonstrating that the cageyness that Jimmy has may well be a genetic trait, he followed his stay in the hospital by taping up almost half his house and telling his brother he was retiring from the law. Jimmy refused to accept this, and was so determined to ease his brother’s mind over a technicality that cost the firm a client, he confessed to committing a felony in order to get his brother out of the funk he was in. At which point, we (but not Jimmy) learned that Chuck had done all this to get him to confess on tape.
Nor was Jimmy the only one who has been going through an evolution. Throughout the season, Mike (Jonathan Banks) has been demonstrating more and more the efficiency that will eventually land him on Gus Fring’s payroll. In a nearly season long arc, Mike engaged with the Salmanaca clan (a group that will be critical to “Breaking Bad”) First, arranging for Tuco to end up in prison for a trumped up assault charge, he then found himself dealing with pater familias Hector (Mark Margolis, finally allowed to show the villainy that he only hinted at in the previous series). Refusing to back down until the Cousins (the Season 3 villains) threatened his family, he then focused on getting vengeance of a sort on Hector by taking a money run from him. Determined to take down Hector in the season 2 finale, he approached the Salmanaca hideout in an a five minute scene with practically no dialogue. There was so much tension in it, that the viewer probably forgot that none of the characters in this scene could die here.
“Better Call Saul” in it second season has become an impressive series. It’s never going to be as good as “Breaking Bad” – the division between Mike’s and Jimmy’s world has not quite merged, and until it does, the series still seems a little divided. But its an impressive show nonetheless. You would think considering that because part of its improvement was due to more characters from the original series showing up that it would still be dependent on it, but instead its developing a bible that maybe not even creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould were aware of. Hopefully, when it comes back for a third season (assuming its renewed), it can add more of the layers that Breaking had. We don’t have to run into Walter White, but I’d be glad to see how this story plays out even if we do know how it ends.
My rating:4.5 stars.