Great kick-off to the season, with lots of subtle callbacks, as well as setups for future payoffs. I timed my rewatch of season 4 so that I saw “Winner” the night before last night’s season premiere, which worked out great. Because this episode dives right into expanding upon the many plot threads that previous episode set up.
|Posted: 24 February 2020 at 9:48am | IP Logged | 8
We’ve been waiting a year-and-a-half to see if that cabbie recognized Saul, and the payoff to that was well worth it. It could easily have gone either way, since the flashbacks have been pretty subjective, and are driven by Gene’s paranoia. But, yeah, his literal worst fear comes true when Jeff walks right up to him in the mall and asks him to “say it”.
The posthumous cameo from Robert Forster as Ed is bittersweet. I was concerned that they might be setting up something they wouldn’t be able to payoff (at least not without recasting or changing their plans), but we get the surprising twist of Gene deciding to solve him own problem. Which is...ominous. The first two season-opening flashbacks were simple vignettes depicting Gene’s sad, paranoid life, but the last three have been telling a mini-story which is leading us toward what will perhaps be the endgame of the entire 13-year saga of BREAKING BAD and BETTER CALL SAUL. And, of course, we have the irony of 2003-era, proto-Saul going to great lengths to build his client base as loudly and as publicly as possibly...which ends up biting back hard when he finds himself in Omaha, years later.
I am utterly fascinated to see this proto-Saul Goodman in action. Bob Odenkirk has completely blown me away with his acting chops on this show. As I’ve mentioned before, I never imagined that the clownish lawyer from BREAKING BAD could be imbued with so much depth and emotion. When BCS started, most people just wanted to get right to Saul and his wacky antics, after all. That has completely flip-flopped, now, with most fans missing the happier days of Jimmy McGill trying to build an honest career for himself. This show really is a tragedy, and you can feel the final pieces starting to click into place.
Last season, you could really see the subtle mannerisms of Saul Goodman creeping into Odenkirk’s performance, particularly at the end of “Winner”, of course. Now, however, I’m amusingly off-balance in watching proto-Saul, because he comes across more as Jimmy in garish clothes and putting on a show. The enthusiasm and energy of Saul Goodman is there, but it hasn’t yet become the self-serving, cynical, amoral energy of Saul Goodman. It’s really crossing wires in my brain, because I can see elements of both of those iterations of the character struggling for dominance. And I love it.
Meanwhile, it’s amusing to see the lengths Gus will go to in order to cover up Werner’s murder and the construction of the Superlab from Lalo and Juan Bolsa. Of course, Lalo sees right through it, and knows that Gus is not the calculating, unemotional cartel partner that he pretends to be. I was a little unsure about the addition of Lalo to this show. Another Salamanca? And one who just so happens to be the guy Saul was terrified of in his very first appearance in BREAKING BAD? However, Tony Dalton has really won me over, because he plays the character as crazy like a fox. Lalo projects a sort of manic, mad energy and charm, but is actually quite cunning and ruthless. A legitimately worthy opponent for Gus, because he’s such a wild card, and smarter than he lets on.
I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how Mike’s story plays out, this season. He’s obviously struggling with his guilt over Werner’s murder, and the tension with Gus that’s resulted from it. Self-loathing and guilt are Mike’s driving forces, and his story is also a tragedy. We’re not far away from him finally becoming the dead-eyed “fixer” we met in BREAKING BAD.
Kim is clearly keeping her mouth shut and trying to be supportive of Jimmy, but at great cost to herself. The big emotional arc last season was Kim’s deep concern over Jimmy not properly expressing his grief over Chuck’s death. The Saul Goodman persona is clearly his way to continue avoiding it, and to distance himself from the family name which Jimmy associates with so many bad memories. And now he’s used his relationship with Kim to push her into compromising her principles by scamming her own client into taking a plea deal.
Remember, Jimmy and Kim have always reaffirmed their relationship by pulling scams together. It’s clearly as much of a turn-on for her as it is for him. But she compartmentalizes her wild side, whereas Jimmy is allowing himself to be consumed by his. Last season, Kim began doing public defender work in order to make an positive difference in the lives of ordinary people who needed help. Something separate and much more fulfilling than her corporate work for Mesa Verde. Scamming one of those pro bono clients—even for his own good—is clearly crossing a big ethical line for her.
Hey, guess what? Another episode airs tonight! Yay!
Also, this year’s bonus content on AMC’s YouTube page (as with Gus’ employee training and Mike’s security training videos from the last two seasons) is a 10-part series of ethics videos starring Kim: