Better Call Saul Season 1 Episode 3 Review: “Nacho”

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Better Call Saul Season 1 Episode 3 Review: “Nacho”

Better Call Saul

When watching Better Call Saul, it’s hard to not compare Jimmy McGill to Walter White. The show is made by the same guys, set in the same place, goes about its business in the same universe; it’s difficult to not expect the same things to happen as before.

That’s the downfall of spin-offs, isn’t it? That things are too similar, too much of what we’ve already seen. I said half-jokingly that I was the kind of person who watch Better Call Saul just so I could get more Breaking Bad. But I don’t think that’s the case anymore. Three episodes in, I don’t want anymore of the same. I don’t want Walt or Gus or Hank; I want something different, a wholly new experience.

During tonight’s episode, I felt a creeping sameness. Jimmy McGill was a watered down Walter White, and he would make the same decisions regarding personal safety as his predecessor did. The story beats were similar, the characters themselves were familiar, and all in all, I was afraid that I was making a commitment to the iPad version of a console game.

But I’m not. I’m not watching the same show. Jimmy McGill is not Mr.Chips to Scarface because Jimmy McGill, in his weakest and most vulnerable moments, puts himself at risk. When his voice masker fails, he doesn’t even bother trying with a different accent: he just tells the Kettlemans that they are in danger in his own voice. When he finds out they’re missing, he calls Nacho over and over again, trying to convince him to let the Kettlemans go, potentially incriminating himself and putting himself in grave danger. Yeah, he tried to convince Nacho that he hadn’t ratted, but the guts it takes to call a criminal like Nacho and try to back them down is pretty remarkable.

Walt never put himself at risk; not until he had burned every bridge and ruined his family and his friends. He died alone, in a meth lab, protecting the only thing he cared about. Breaking Bad was about the worst of human impulses, and about what happens when those are let run amok. Walt was always a bad guy; he was always an arrogant jerk who thought he was better than his station in life. He can wrap himself in the flag of his family, but the facts remain. Jimmy is a screw-up, a failure, and a con man; but he is willing to die to stop two teenage kids from getting skinned alive, and he is willing to risk prison and death to rescue a family that had left him in the lurch.

Being a good person is not doing the right thing when you need to, but when you don’t. Jimmy could’ve walked away, had plausible deniability, whatever; he could’ve assisted Nacho in stealing the money from the Kettlemans. He could’ve done any number of things. But he didn’t, and that counts for something.

I can’t wait to see where this show goes. I don’t think you gonna find a spin-off better than this.

Stray Thoughts

– That little twitch that Mike has, exemplified when the cops touch him on the upper arm, was legitimately frightening. He’s a former cop that hates cops, or at least their false buddy-buddyness.

– That bag held a lot of cash, but it could’ve had so much more. Buying that gaudy boat was not the best decision.

– This show is as well-plotted and detail-orientated as anything else. Missed that kind of precision. Gillian and Gould truly are at the top of their game.

[Photo via AMC]

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