Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Better Call Saul 2x01 Recap: "Switch" (SG Was Here) [Guest Poster: Marilyn]

Original Airdate: February 15, 2016

Season two of Better Call Saul opens much like season one did with — black and white footage of and older and more beaten down man managing a Cinnabon in a mall in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s a reminder that Jimmy/Saul’s life after Walt’s influence is a study in lifeless monotony. ... At least until he manages to lock himself in the garbage room after mall closing. There’s an emergency exit, but he knows the police will be notified, and he’s clearly reluctant to involve the authorities. His new life in Omaha is all about flying under the radar. So he sits down on a milk crate to contemplate his crappy life for two and a half hours until the night janitor shows up to toss some garbage. During his wait, he’d inscribed “SG was here” in the wall.

Which reminds us that we have yet to see how Jimmy McGill finally became Saul Goodman. At the end of season one, we saw a man who was done walking the straight and narrow. After all, following all the rules had never gotten him the respect and wealth that he’d craved. At a meeting with litigators for the big Sandpiper case he’d helped set up last season, he takes Kim Wexler aside and asks her if there’s a chance for the two of them... together. She rebuffs him, which disappoints him enough that he withdraws himself from the case and leads to his revelation that we saw in last year’s finale.
Jimmy returns to his dinky office in the back of the Korean nail spa, again rebuffed from drinking the customer’s complimentary cucumber water (he rebels by drinking it straight from the tap).

Meanwhile, Mike, the sketchy parking attendant, is awaiting his client, who shows up in an ostentatious Hummer with spinning rims. Mike refuses to go to the “meet” in the car, insisting that he will drive them in his sensible sedan. The client resists this and goes to the meet in the Hummer and without Mike, which I can already tell is a really poor idea. It almost certainly is, when the client allows the man he’s selling drugs to learn his address.

Jimmy, meanwhile is floating in a pool and rejecting entirely being a lawyer. Kim comes to see him, demanding to know what’s going on. He tries to evade her questions, only telling her that his whole life has been about making his brother, Chuck, happy and it hasn’t worked so he’s done. Now, he’s ready to trust his instincts and use his talents elsewhere. He doesn’t believe he has to be a lawyer to do the things he liked about being a lawyer: selling people, convincing people. He has no plan, which frustrates Kim. Being good has gotten him nowhere though, and he’s done.

He asks her to come with him — to trust him. They approach a sleazy stockbroker in the hotel bar they’re at and Jimmy starts to work the guy, the way he only knows how. He plays stupid about investing money, intriguing the man, causing him to ask more about the money they want to invest. When he hears the number — $1.4 million — the stockbroker is on the hook. Kim gets in on the game, spinning a tale that the stockbroker buys hook, line, and sinker. They spend a lot of time talking, drinking (expensive tequila that is $50 a shot) and eating. They stockbroker insists on taking the bill. Jimmy and Kim sign fake names on their paperwork and leave, having stiffed the guy out of some very expensive tequila.

Kim is thrilled by the experience. Her delight and drunkenness lead to a hook-up with Jimmy, which then results in a very cute morning-after scene of them brushing teeth together. This whole scenario proves Jimmy’s point: that he gets further by being bad than he ever has by being good.

Our friend with the Hummer had his house tossed, and his prized baseball collection stolen. He reveals that some cash was also stolen but he’s reluctant to tell the police just how much. He tries to focus on the baseball cards. The cops are understandably skeptical of the whole situation, which leads them to look closer around the guy’s home. They find a hidey hole that is empty but conceivably contained cash at one point.

Back at the resort that he calls home these days, Jimmy watches a hot young woman with an older, skeevy looking guy. He wants Kim to join him — to scam this guy, too — but she’s not answering her phone. This doubt leads him to call up the law firm, Davis and Main, who are the ones handling the Sandpiper case. Apparently, Kim’s urging that Jimmy not turn his back on a career in law was something he took to heart and he goes there to meet with them. The office he’s given is enormous and Jimmy is nearly overwhelmed. I had to laugh as he was investigating the new digs and discovered a switch that had a sign on it: “Do not turn off! Always leave on!”  He can’t resist it, of course. So he flips the switch and... nothing happens.

Disappointed, he flips it back on.

Better Call Saul is a perfect extension of Breaking Bad. Bob Odenkirk was always a fan favorite and you were delighted when he would show up in an episode. It’s no different now that he’s got his own show. In fact, it feels like the same show Breaking Bad was, but in the best way possible. That tight, creative, and imaginative storytelling from Vince Gilligan that we so enjoyed? It’s back. In fact, it feels like we never left. If you were a fan of Breaking Bad, you’ll want to give Better Call Saul a try (the first season is up on Netflix, and new episodes of season two are airing on Monday nights on AMC!). If you haven’t watched Breaking Bad, there’s still a story to enjoy with Better Call Saul, but why deny yourself the delight of falling down the rabbit hole with Walt and Jesse?


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