When it came time to end the first season of Better Call Saul, creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan were ready to hit the gas. Jimmy had crossed a lot of territory, from good to bad, and they were ready to begin his transformation into Saul Goodman. They felt that they created a show that demanded Saul Goodman sooner rather than later.
But a funny thing happened during that first season: fans fell in love with Jimmy McGill. He was kind, and sweet, and well-meaning; he wasn’t perfect, by any means, but he did try to do good, even if he bent and broke the rules to do so. His proclamation at the end of the season one finale, of never turning down easy money again, rang hollow. So, when we returned for the second season of Better Call Saul, the show took a step back. Jimmy McGill wasn’t gone yet; he still had story left in him.
Vince Gilligan is one of the most brilliant show runners and television writers of all time, and Peter Gould one of the best writers working today, and because of that I find it hard to believe that they would push Jimmy to the edge of Saul and then back away again. There is only so many times that trick can be played. It’s an interesting thing for me to experience, because I assumed that they would spend the entirety of the series pre-Saul; that the transformation of McGill to Goodman would take several seasons. But looking at that now, with the benefit of two and a three quarters seasons past, it’s obvious that they’d have to get to Saul sooner or later.
Even when Jimmy becomes Saul, that doesn’t mean that Saul is the same Saul we see in Breaking Bad. You can plausibly call the Jimmy we see in “Inflatable” Saul Goodman 1.0; he’s got the flashy suits and the creativity, but he isn’t a totally selfish being, not yet. He feels bad for putting Cliff and the office through hell while he wiggled out from underneath his contract; he feels bad that Omar spent an entire day moving a desk, keeping him away from his kids. There is still something inside Jimmy McGill. There is nothing inside Saul Goodman.
* * *
Kim hasn’t learned the lesson about Half Measures. She thinks that she and Jimmy can coexist, side by side, but not as business partners. She’s not wrong; her clientele would be horrified to know that Jimmy was just an office over. But it’s also foolish; Jimmy is in love with her, and he takes every slight personally, and as he’s proven with Davis & Main, he’ll burn down a good thing just to get his own way. Jimmy is a torpedo in a suit.
She should take the job at Schweikart; she should keep their lives as separate as possible. Kim treats the law with much more reverence than Jimmy does; Jimmy treats the law as a means to an end, while Kim treats it as The End. She isn’t, perhaps, as fanatical as Chuck is about it (no one is), but she does respect it. Her view of the law and his view can coexist when they’re a hundred miles and separate firms apart; but what about when their competing for clients?
Their relationship is already tenuous, and buttressed by the fact that they never spend real downtime with each other. It’s easy to deal with the other’s opposing view point when you’re tangled in the sheets; but when you’re sitting down to eat dinner on a Thursday, and it’s been a long week, and both of you are tired, things can go wrong.
Kim left something behind, in that tiny Nebraska town; something that she is very reluctant to vocalize. If her desire is to better herself, and get “more” for herself, then she would be best to find someone whose chief skill is causing chaos. She’d be better served to take that Schweikart job; hell, she’d be better served back in the mailroom of HHM. Anything is safer than with Jimmy.
* * *
Mike knows now, or has always known, that his daughter-in-law is playing him. There’s no malice behind her requests, but there is thirst for something else. Mike loves her, and he loves Kaylee, so he’ll do whatever he needs to do, but that’ll lead him down a dark, well-trodden path. He won’t be able to get away with schemes like the one he pulled on Tuco. He won’t be able to avoid bloodshed going forward. Mike sits behind that chainlink fence and watches the restaurant that he met Tio in, and he grits his teeth.
There is no way out for Mike, no one he can talk to. He doesn’t trust Jimmy, and he doesn’t trust Nacho, and he’s had to scrap his way out of a number of difficult situations in the past few months. he’s keeping it goethe, but his hands still shaking. Our bodies betray us, even when we’re well-trained and well-experienced. Mike can steady himself, putting him ahead of the curve, but he is still unsteady, and he’s liable to get pushed over the edge, one way or another.
We’ll see how much longer he can hold on.
Jimmy gets fired, Kim gets hired, and Mike deals with an uncertain future in Better Call Saul.