Better Call Saul is unique among the cable-drama landscape in that it doesn’t go for the big dramatic stakes. When it comes to Vince Gilligan‘s follow-up/prequel to Breaking Bad, the smaller and more personal the stakes, the better.
If the first four episodes of the show’s second season are any indication, Gilligan, Peter Gould, Bob Odenkirk and everyone else involved with the show understands the potential in this approach.
Since Chris already reviewed the season premiere we’ll skip straight to episode 2, “Cobbler”. This episode saw Jimmy’s (Bob Odenkirk) early days at D&M interrupted when Mike (Jonathan Banks) calls him in to handle a potential problem. It’s a real loose-lips-sink-ships-type situation and Jimmy handles it with typical-but-hilarious grace.
Shenanigans aside, there’s something really elegant and natural to the way that the show develops Jimmy’s relationships in this episode – from his growing-partnership with Mike, his budding-romance with Kim (Rhea Seehorn) and his growing animosity towards Chuck (Michael McKeen). It says something about McKeen’s performance in the season thus far that he less dangerous than Breaking Bad‘s villains in almost every conceivable way yet somehow more reprehensible when it comes to his attempts at undermining his brother’s success.
Jumping to the next episode, “Amarillo”, we see the greater arc of the season taking shape. This episode does a great job of showing the double-sided nature of Jimmy’s brilliance. His plan to solicit new clients using a TV ad is inspired – but his willingness to seek forgiveness rather than ask permission suggest that perhaps there is a prickly truth to Chuck’s cruelty and Jimmy is unsuited to life at Davis & Main.
There’s a thrilling anticlimax to the episode that leaves both Jimmy and Mike’s plotlines hanging here, and “Gloves Off” picks things right back up with Nacho recruiting Mike to try and take Tuco out of the picture and Jimmy confronting Chuck. While the former got the most screentime – including a fun scene that saw Jim Beaver reprise his role from Breaking Bad – the emotional punch came with the latter plotline.
Although Jimmy scrapes by with a stern warning from D&M, Kim’s career already suffering the consequences – pushing Jimmy to make his brother an offer he can’t refuse. Seeing him finally force a confrontation with Chuck and challenge him to just admit he doesn’t think Jimmy is good enough to work in law made for fantastic viewing and it’ll be fascinating to see how the chips fall in coming episodes.
Review Score for “Cobbler”: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Review Score for “Amarillo”: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Review Score for “Gloves-Off”: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Better Call Saul premieres exclusively in Australia on Stan, Tuesday 16th February 2016. It will be fast tracked from the U.S weekly.