Season Two, Episode One — “Switch“
By Brandy Dykhuizen and Jarrod Jones. It’s really no wonder that Saul Goodman was our hands-down favorite character in all of Breaking Bad. The fact that this shitty, obviously fake-named lawyer — a stereotype of a stereotype, really — was the only relatable character in a series chock-full of terrible people wasn’t remarkable. It’s what Vince Gilligan did to this markedly loathsome person afterwards, that’s the real achievement. And that’s what the first season of Better Call Saul was. It was nothing short of a miracle.
Pinning Saul inside an artful, meditative spinoff series made watching “that Breaking Bad spinoff” both a compulsory burden and a stunning revelation. How could a show with a decidedly inane premise — where that ratfink Goodman evolves from a self-conscious, bumbling weirdo to a withered sophisticate achieving mid-life clarity — actually not stink? As far as quality is concerned, Breaking Bad didn’t deserve Better Call Saul. Hell, we’re pretty sure nobody deserved Better Call Saul. But it’s here anyway. And the best part? He’s back. Somebody break out the tequila (but check the price tag, obviously). It’s time to have fun again.
BD: Raging celebrity crushes aside, Bob Odenkirk amazes as Saul. How has it possibly taken this long for such a wonderful actor to dominate the screen? Odenkirk conveys the irritation and excitement of a new path between the parentheses of shoulder-slumping depression. We can almost taste the chlorine in his floating bean dip as we judge his life choices.
This is the best-framed show out there. Even if, for some incredible reason, you don’t care for the plot, etc., this show still exists as a work of art. I’m also amazed at how much sadness can be conveyed in a mustache.
JJ: If Saul succeeds in anything, it’s conveying Jimmy’s wistful fantasy of a life devoted to the hustle. While most of the people around him are flummoxed by the decisions he makes, Jimmy just can’t — and in some cases, just won’t — adapt to societal expectations. He’s not a rebel so much as he’s a born contrarian, but his life choices are always stemmed from a place of love. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s in love with a woman who lives her life like a responsible adult. Kim Wexler can slap on her pressed pantsuit and get back to reality on demand, but for a few fleeting hours, we got to watch Kim and Jimmy indulge in what comes naturally.
Look. I know Daniel Warmolt is an idiot. Cruising around in his Hummer with a pair of deliberately coordinated hightops that look like they’re about to swallow his highwater khakis, Daniel is spending his drug money like a complete moron. And his new baller lyfestsyle isn’t endearing to Mike or probably anybody else. (Can help but notice you don’t have a ring on either hand, Daniel.) But his dilemma with Nacho (Saul vet Michael Mando) makes for some painfully riveting television. Watching Dan’s story unravel in real time, in the presence of two police officers, no less, made me giddy. I don’t know where this subplot’s going, but I’m sure it’s going to get bloody sooner than later.
WHAT DIDN’T: It’s fair to say that neither of us found a flaw inside the first episode of Better Call Saul‘s second season. If anything, it was damn-near perfect.
“I know what stopped me. And it’s never stopping me again.” – Saul, to Mike.
Saul: “I think my talents are better spent elsewhere.” Kim: “Where? Floating in somebody else’s pool?”
“They say Arnold Schwarzenegger is the reason Hummers exist.” – Cop, to other cop, concerning Daniel’s tricked-out Hummer.
“Electric Slide right on in there.” – Wealth Manager Dude, to Kim.
“That stock has no legs. It’s like a circus freak minus the fun.” – Wealth Manager Dude.
BD: I can’t get the image of the hummingbird buzzing in and out of the frame out of my head. A definite happy accident, right before Douchebag McGee rolls his Hummer up to wait for Nacho.
JJ: Jimmy shows Kim the score. The hustle is what drives Jimmy. Kim isn’t quite clear on how much his freedom means to him, so he shows her — in a rapidly escalating con job pulled on the chumpiest wealth manager alive. Watching Kim’s eyes glint like daggers at the $50 tequila shots and rustic appetizer plates fill up their table, and the way she smiles at Jimmy after they’ve left the nimrod in the dust… it’s a big moment, one that pays off an entire season’s worth of scintillating emotional poignancy.
BD: Saul. He’s undergone transformations before, but this time he will have to stick by the choices he made. Unbuttoned in a pool suits him well.
JJ: Obviously you’re right, Brandy, but let’s not leave Kim out of this. You may have snuck in and snagged good ol’ Jimmy for MVP, but Kim Wexler is every bit as vital to Better Call Saul as the fated attorney-at-law.
– Only a special kind of dipshit gets himself locked in a garbage room. Saul Goodman was that kind of dipshit. But Jimmy? Walt White really did a number on this guy.
– “That was quick. No charge.” Didn’t we have an epic battle of stoic wills between Jimmy and Mike for practically the whole of Season One? I love the paradigm shift. Ah, growth.
– Better Call Saul, brought to you by Hummer. Of course the tags say “PLAYUH”.
– The wealth manager who sits down with “Viktor With A ‘K'” and “Giselle”? The exact same chumpalumpagus who stole Walter White’s parking space with his BMW back in Breaking Bad Season One, Episode Four. (“Cancer Man”) That’s what we call a “deep-basket” Easter Egg.
– Zafiro Añejo, the ludicrously-priced tequila, was the exact same hootch Gustavo Fring brought to poison Don Eladio in Breaking Bad Season Four, Episode Ten. (“Salud”)
– The only thing more pathetic than constantly checking your phone is constantly checking it through a Ziplock bag.
10 out of 10
Next, “Cobbler”, soon.