Season Two, Episode Three — “Amarillo”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. Jimmy’s at it again. Overstepping boundaries, lying to his girlfriend, and bending truths in the workplace. This season he appeared to be making a real go of it, motivated by Kim to mostly stay on track. But now we see Jimmy auditioning himself for a different role. And that’s what Amarillo was, a dress rehearsal for the Saul to come. Complete with costume, props and a silver tongue, Jimmy flexed his rule-bending attorney chops by paying off a Sandpiper bus driver to stall out just long enough so he can engage in some light solicitation. Knowing full well this type of behavior could land him disbarred (not to mention single), Jimmy does it anyway, charming the heck out of the aged ladies in his white suit and Stetson hat. While he seems confident he has the answers to Davis & Main’s Sandpiper problems, he still doesn’t feel quite comfortable putting on his show closer to home.
Back in the board room, Chuck and Kim see through Jimmy’s stunt almost immediately. And so, predictably, Chuck turns the third degree up to eleven. While Chuck’s brand of petulant subversiveness can sour our opinion of him, his interrogation of Jimmy is altogether fair, as Jimmy’s taken approach could blow the case for this firm entirely. We also note that Chuck crunches and crinkles when he moves, signifying the presence of his aluminum space blanket underneath his suit. No matter how by-the-books he is, we are still reminded that he is a sick and troubled man, with an audibly crackling undercurrent of crazy lurking right below the surface.
The crazy is doled out pretty evenly throughout this cast of characters. Mike has been tasked with protecting his daughter-in-law, who is convinced she has been hearing gunshots every night. Mostly likely, the gunshots are a figment of her imagination, or merely the thunk of a newspaper being delivered in the wee hours, heard through a filter of PTSD. However, Mike is determined to keep his family safe and happy, and decides the best way to manage the situation is to just move them elsewhere. It costs money to pick up and move house, though, and thus we see Mike’s motivation behind his interactions with the seedier side of Albuquerque.
WHAT WORKED: Mike’s tenacity in protecting his daughter-in-law and granddaughter brings out a dimension only lightly touched upon in this series (and moreso in Breaking Bad). Glimmers of it have been seen before, but here Jonathan Banks channels his inner Saint Bernard in this episode’s scenes with Stacey to maximum effect. His number one mission is to protect and support his people, a sentiment that does not go by unnoticed.
WHAT DIDN’T: While I’m not sure whom I was expecting to see in the warehouse with Mike, Nacho was not at the top of my list. There is nothing wrong with the character of Nacho, and he has shown some intelligence and cunning, but asking Mike to take someone out seems more like Tuco Salamanca’s thing. No doubt he is a smart kid, but he seems a little low on the totem pole to be ordering hits on anyone. Considering Nacho’s thundering absence in every single season of Breaking Bad, it’s a safe bet he may not be hanging around for much longer.
Film Student: “So that’s it? Old lady in a chair?” Jimmy: “Does anybody like you?”
“It’s been in syndication since the 1850s.” – Jimmy, on Murder She Wrote.
“Whatever happened to showmanship?” – Jimmy’s distaste for the current Davis & Main commercial is a hint of the Saul to come.
BEST MOMENT: “I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. McGill.” Jimmy’s bafflement at the film students’ apathy and ennui made for a light and humorous scene, in an episode full of heavier, lawyer drama moments. The foray into dramatic TV commercials signals that the transformation into Saul Goodman is getting closer and closer.
EPISODE’S MVP: Saul. Doing the right thing seems to physically pain Jimmy, and Bob Odenkirk perfectly conveys that unnecessary agony in his various facial twists and grimaces. There were multiple moments in which Jimmy was so close to doing the right thing, but simply doesn’t have the constitution to carry it through. We were cheering for him to show Cliff the tape, but he will not allow himself to be in a situation in which he can be told what to do.
– I seem to recall Mike and Stacey having a much more strained relationship in Breaking Bad. Is Stacey up to something right now that ends up dividing them later, or is she honestly terrified of phantom gunshots?
– I’d know that wiggly pig anywhere: Mike used that same animatronic plaything to lure a hitman to his doom in Season Five, Episode Two of Breaking Bad — “Madrigal”.
– Jimmy’s commercial seemed a little too good, in comparison to Saul Goodman’s ad spaces. This one was fairly well thought out and acted, whereas the commercials we saw in Breaking Bad were nothing more than garish caricatures of a morally compromised small town lawyer, only a slight step above the people he represents.
– Jimmy and Kim snuggle to Rock Hudson’s Ice Station Zebra, which bears mentioning not just because it’s an awesome movie (and it is), but because Saul Goodman used “Ice Station Zebra Associates” as a front to properly dodge the IRS, as evinced in Season Two, Episode Eight of Breaking Bad — “Better Call Saul”.
– Who’s on Nacho’s list? Tuco? That seems like an arrogant enough move for him, and one that would explain why we don’t see Nacho in Breaking Bad.
7 out of 10
Next: “Gloves Off”, soon.
Before: “Cobbler”, here.