When we left Jimmy McGill at the end of Season 1 of ‘Better Call Saul”, he seemed closer to embracing the darker part of his nature, heading off into the sunset instead of accepting a corporate job at a Santa Fe law firm. And for a brief moment, it seemed like he was about to embrace his destiny. But it turned out Jimmy was quite ready to become Saul yet, and after soaking in a pool, he returned to the corporate law offices run by Clifford Maine (Ed Begley, Jr. doing his first relevant work in decades).
However, just because he’s gone corporate doesn’t mean that Jimmy (Emmy nominee Bob Odenkirk) is anywhere near the straight and narrow. Though he is determined to see through the class action that he started against Sandpiper retirement community at the end of Season 1, Jimmy still seems on the verge of dabbling in the darker world that will eventually lead him to Walter White. He was already willing to engage in borderline practices in ‘client outreach’ in Amarillo in order to convince twenty-four seniors to sign on, and he was willing to defy the senior partner to run a commercial targeted just for seniors in Colorado Springs. And even with the woman he clearly loves, Kim (Rhea Seaborn) and his elder brother Chuck (Michael McKean, able to express so much with so little dialogue) looking over his shoulder, we can still see whatever part of him that will eventually lead him to become Saul Goodman. Never was this more clear in a scene in a second episode when he managed to convince two Albuquerque police officers investigating a drug dealing that the only crime his client was guilty of was of a disgusting fetish video involving him sitting in pie. He wants the wicked part of him to come out, and clearly enjoys it, but he’s not there yet.
Also not there yet is the other character around from both shows: ex-cop Mike Erhmantraut (Jonathan Banks, still at the top of his game) Mike demonstrated last season that there was a soul beneath the hardened fixer we got to know on ‘Breaking Bad’, as well as demonstrating that there still are things that he cares for his – namely his daughter-in-law and granddaughter, who he is more than willing to raise money. But much like Jimmy, Mike still has lines that he doesn’t want to cross. Trying desperately to earn money for his family, he has been unwilling (up until now) to take jobs that will end with people getting badly hurt. He still wants to try and work the shady side of the street, but mostly that seems to involve using his police skills. In a very funny storyline, Mike stopped working for a ‘dealer’ who clearly knew nothing about subtlety, then helped him when he went to the cops to report the robbery of baseball cards. (It was resolving that situation that led Mike to call on Jimmy to come up with the ‘cobbler’ defense). But he’s still working as a parking attendant, though given the conclusion of the last episode, his approach to what he won’t do may soon become more flexible.
It/’s probably safe to say that “Better Call Saul” will never be as good as “Breaking Bad” Few show will. But the fact is, this is become a very engaging, and often much more amusing series, in its own right. It’s already proven that it has a certain amount of draw with TV critics and audience (though unfortunately, it will never have the same draw as “The Walking Dead”. But Vince Gilligan continues to demonstrate that he has the touch when it comes to creating original stories, not going where he thinks they will. We, the audience, are along for the ride.
My score: 4 stars.