As mentioned in our previous post on Better Call Saul Episode 1 & 2, Saul, who’s still Jimmy McGill at this point in the Breaking Bad prequel, has continued to impress with his ability to suffer the desert heat in a suit and tie, his tenacity for problem solving when his neck is (so frequently) on the line, his resourcefulness, and the mystery of this wonderfully hopeless man, brought to life by Bob Odenkirk. This week, Jimmy continues to puzzle over the mystery of the (now missing) Kettlemans and their embezzled 1.5 million. Did they meet their ignoble, dusty desert floor end? Have they run? Is Nacho, partner to the scariest dude in Albuquerque, Tuco, involved?
The test for Breaking Bad fans was always to stand an impossible amount of tension sustained over time (shout out to those who actually waited 18 months between cliffhangers, as this writer did) and to follow the narrative through pitch black twists and turns that did not guarantee safety for anyone, and showed sides of humanity and depravity in unexpected places. It was blue, but it was never black or white. People died, but other people survived situations that seemed hopeless, and some flourished against all probability. The compelling, emotional hold was played masterfully by Vince Gilligan and co and somehow, very rarely had us yelling at the writers and never lost our devotion even as we watched through our fingers at times. This strange and delicate mix is one you had to be there for to understand why the show gets the acclaim it does.
Better Call Saul’s action treats viewers to this same tension and the right dose of the flashback format of Breaking Bad, for we still do have many questions about Jimmy’s slip and fall past as well as the future we know about. We learn a good deal about Jimmy this week, that Michael McKean’s lawyer Chuck is Jimmy’s brother, at one time the thriving litigator to Jimmy’s screw up little brother. I don’t ever want to know the definition of the “simple Chicago sunroof” that Jimmy’s been guilty of as it might be a type of scam, an unappealing sexual act, a reference to family or legal jargon, or some other business. This is the feeling, and the world of the delightfully, if also at times squeamishly, unpredictable new age of stellar TV.
Jimmy treats us this week to some stellar dialogue such as his The Shining homage tent ambush “Here’s Johnny!” to the instantly classic shade he throws on the way out of a confrontation “I’ll take an Edible Arrangement as a sorry, heavy on the pineapple” and in the reveal that he’s only recently of Albuquerque (under arrest, in a flashback) as he only knows two things about the place – Bugs Bunny should have taken a left there, and Jimmy’ll never be able to spell it.
Jimmy, in Episode Three, is a bit of a gumshoe, walking a beat and solving a mystery, which he capably does, which he needs to for the sake of his own neck and his new, unplanned attachments to the ABQ underworld via the well-spoken, scarily calm Nacho, his “client”. The story is unfolding nicely by this episode, as we see Jimmy continue and refine his negotiations with folks at the courthouse, the D.A., his ex-legal colleagues, his criminal client, the cops, and perhaps his biggest adversary, a no-nonsense, tough as nails, parking lot attendant named Mike Ehrmantraut.