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Better Call Saul – Amarillo Review

"Gloves (almost) off."

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.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill and Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler - Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC
Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill and Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler – Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

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.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill - Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC
Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill – Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

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.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill - Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC
Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill – Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

Chicago Sunroofs

  • Next week’s episode is called “Gloves Off,” which, if read meta-textually, means Better Call Saul is planning on revealing its true colors then.
  • I love the little head shake Alma May did when she denied having a boyfriend.
  • I wasn’t with the opening scene the whole time, but it was cool when Jimmy made everything he was saying about how he wanted Alma May to see him. “Sometimes, it’s just easier if you get your nephew Steve to go take care of it for you. And that’s how I want you to think of me” was a great way of showcasing Jimmy’s talents, as was him remembering the names of everyone from the bus.
  • With the ash, then cigarettes, in the scales of justice, I think this was the first title sequence that was an overt metaphor for Jimmy’s transformation. Kind of obvious, but still cool.
  • I get the sense that Erin/Eren, the woman who had an extra copy of the Neiderman deposition, is 100% qualified to do everything.
  • Jimmy’s smile when he got one over on Chuck was so perfectly smug.
  • Kim’s talk with Jimmy encapsulated her character incredibly well. She stressed that she put “[herself] on the line” to get Jimmy his job, and when he suggested she “threw [him] a bone,” she was offended, but still said she believed in him. Unwilling to take crap from anybody, but always a friend to those she cares about. A+ Kim Wexler.
  • The back and forth between Jimmy and Kim as he set the scene for his commercial was awesome.
  • There’s something so right about the idea of a company obsessing over a commercial’s background swirl.
  • “Whatever happened to showmanship?” was a great line to end the scene of Jimmy viewing Davis & Main’s previous commercial.
  • Jimmy discovering a workaround for their lack of a dolly was probably my favorite moment in the episode.
Rating
7.0
Pros
  • The series seems to have moved past having to move thing around
  • Showed Jimmy trying to work within the system, while telegraphing Saul Goodman
Cons
  • Jimmy's Season 1 finale amorality
  • Kim's obvious role
  • Stacey's undeveloped paranoia
  • Still unnecessary

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