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It finally happened. For two episodes, Better Call Saul: Season 2 has felt like an unnecessary addition to Jimmy’s story. Because of Season 1’s definitive finale, both “Switch” and “Cobbler” were preoccupied with getting Jimmy back to square one, and despite my confidence in creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan, I worried Season 2 wouldn’t be able to stand on its own. Thankfully, “Amarillo” was the first episode of the season that felt like its own beast, but that doesn’t mean it completely threw off the shackles of Season 1.
After last episode ended with Kim reprimanding Jimmy for falsifying evidence, something that could get him disbarred, “Amarillo” began with Jimmy soliciting victims of fraud…something that could also get him disbarred. I keep talking about the restraint of Season 1 and how Jimmy’s descent felt earned most of the time, but I still feel like I don’t have a good handle on Jimmy’s impulsive amorality. As I mentioned in my review of “Cobbler,” I didn’t enjoy the Season 1 finale’s acceleration of his transformation, and I think the series is still feeling the residual pain of this move.
More troubling for the show going forward is the continued use of Kim Wexler. Her telling Jimmy her reputation is “on the line” was a nice way of preventing him from going overboard, but it still seems too easy for the show to use her as the only thing keeping him in the light. Since Jimmy lied to Kim about getting approval for the commercial, I’m interested in seeing the extent of the slap on the wrist he is given next week. Will the show let their relationship develop in ignorance, or will someone talk to Kim about Jimmy’s actions? It wouldn’t make up for how obvious Kim’s role in Season 2 has been so far, but it would be pretty cool if she was the only one who suffered due to Jimmy’s behavior. Instead of Jimmy being kicked out of Davis & Main, she gets booted from HHM, and as she leaves the office with a box of her stuff (shedding a single, lone tear), she looks back and he realizes it’s all his fault. Perhaps he could even be directly responsible for this happening, choosing his loyalty to his other life over his love for her?
The episode wasn’t solely made up of questionable elements, though. Jimmy flexing his showmanship muscle was a very clever step in his development, as it allowed us to see him moving closer to his character in Breaking Bad, while showing Jimmy trying his best to work within the system. This was an essential part of his journey, more important than seeing him lose Kim or be pushed over the edge by Chuck, as we have to know that he doesn’t have to resort to dubious methods to succeed. Despite our knowledge of who he becomes, we’re still rooting for Jimmy to do the right thing. And I hope Better Call Saul has more moments like this in the future.
Mike’s storyline, meanwhile, was a little less substantial, but this wasn’t as big of an issue for me as it was in “Switch.” The episode, in general, didn’t feel like it was busy moving things around, and Mike is now very much on the path to becoming Gus Fring’s enforcer. Mike’s daughter-in-law, Stacey, being the cause of all this was in equal parts interesting and suspect (as a plot device), but I’m hoping there’s more development of this storyline next week.
Though “Amarillo” had a lot of issues that could have tarnished the experience, it was refreshing to see Better Call Saul move away from the problematic legacy of Season 1. The show has yet to justify continuing Jimmy’s storyline and his characterization still seems baseless, but the episode was a reassuring sign that Season 2 will only get better from here.