When you know how something is going to end (as we do with Jimmy McGill), you usually arrive at the conclusion with a lot more information. You’ve experienced the beginning and middle. You’ve been there the whole ride. These characters are as familiar to you as they can be. But in this case, dealing with the prequel that is Better Call Saul, we have only Saul Goodman.
Saul Goodman is not, as his name would suggest, actually a good man. He’s an honest man, sure. He’s definitely a pragmatic one. But good, he is not. He is complicit in the many crimes of Walter White, Gus Fring, Jesse Pinkman, and Mike Ehrmantraut; murders, assaults, and much more stain his hands just as that chemical stained the Kettlemans’. Saul Goodman is a Bad Guy; Saul Goodman is the Middle Man for a lot of Bad Things.
Before this episode, I could see Saul Goodman in Jimmy McGill. I was surprised that his eventual end was as such a human being, but I could buy it. I assumed he put himself into one too many situations, couldn’t talk his way out, and joined the dark side because it was easier. That’s my bad. I had forgotten that Jimmy McGill had already been in one bad situation too many, and that he’d ended up friendless and penniless and alone in a prison, with only his high-horse brother to rescue him. He’s already drug himself from the depths.
And now it’s so much worse! The Jimmy McGill of this episode had integrity! He could’ve easily taken the Kettlemans’ money and took the case to trial. He would’ve lost, and he knew it; if Kim, who is at worst his much better financed equal, can’t find a way to win the case, nobody could. He gave up all of his money, all of his progress, so that Kim could keep her office and the Kettlemans could have a shot at actual redemption in less than a year and a half. It’ll take Jimmy years to build up enough capital to get a halfway decent office and clientele.
He keeps doing the right thing, over and over again, and even though he gets kicked in the teeth over and over again, he gets back up. So, what could turn Jimmy McGill, man of integrity (however reluctant), into Saul Goodman?
Look how empty Saul’s world is, and how full Jimmy’s is. Jimmy may feel like a loser, but he has Kim and Chuck. He even has HHM, in a weird way. His world is vibrant and hard and ultimately worthwhile. He works in the back of a nail salon, and he dreams of an office building that overlooks the city.
But he ends up in a strip mall, under a different name, with no Kim and no Chuck. He sits in a windowless room, with cheesy wallpaper and bad carpet. He ends up in a Cinnabon, with a mustache, in a small apartment. Tonight’s episode of Better Call Saul may have ended with Jimmy crying on the floor of his lost office, but he snapped out of and went back to work.
At what point did he stop snapping back? At what point did his self-pity become his guiding principle? At what point did he become Saul Goodman?
I can’t wait to find out.
– That shot of Jimmy going out of the door and cutting to him sliding into the diner booth in one continuous motion was magical. Loved that shot.
– I love that Jimmy and Kim share a cigarette. That is a habit formed over a long, long relationship.
– The Kettlemans are the worst. They live in this giant million dollar home, and they still steal $1.6 million from the local government. Greedy douches.
– Craig ended up being a genuinely good father by standing up to his wife and taking the fall. Betsy crying on his shoulder as Craig accepted his fate for the good of his children was a really touching moment that I did not expect.
– This was my 100th review for TVOvermind. I’ve been here a year and two months, roughly. Isn’t that something.
[Photo via AMC]