TV Review: Better Call Saul – Ep 2, “Mijo”

James M. McGill – Best Lawyer Ever?…

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Luckily for viewers of the first episode, “Uno”, we didn’t have to wait too long to be made aware of Jimmy’s fate after a breath-takingly shocking final scene! With the two-night series premiere the second episode airing the following day put us into our usual Tuesday time slot (UK viewers). The question we’ve all been pondering since the previous night’s events; what happened to Jimmy McGill? The opening of this episode created that ‘edge of your seat’ feeling, only ever experienced during it’s predecessor, Breaking Bad. We’re already back into what we deem as ‘Breaking Bad territory’. The aggressive cuts and chops of a knife which dominate the opening scene come from none other than Tuco Salamanca, not to worry of course; he’s seen here merely preparing food for an elderly relative. Season 1 of Breaking Bad also saw us viewing an almost identical scenario, as he cooked for notorious, bell-ringing Hector Salamanca (his uncle with Cartel connections), all whilst holding Walt and Jesse captive. In viewers familiar with this scene, a sense of anxiousness and dread certainly prevailed. What had happened to those two skaters? Or better yet, what happened when Jimmy was dragged into this nightmare of a scenario?

As the camera pans away from Tuco, sounds of an elderly lady (his grandmother) can be heard calling “Mijo” – the first word spoken in this episode, hence the title. This is followed by a scuffling which can be heard from outside the door as she walks into the room with the two skaters; alive and well might I add! Tuco instantly looks livid to see them, yet they continue to entertain him with their ‘hit and run’ story and of how they were “felonied” (their own words) by his grandmother. They clearly have no knowledge of who they’re getting involved with, and it’s certainly no Betsy Kettleman.

Here for this opening scene Vince Gilligan is once again utilising his time jump techniques, and this is in fact slightly prior to the final scene of “Uno”.  The skaters attempt to con Tuco with an over-exaggerated limp to back up their fake self-diagnosis of a broken leg. Ironically, this is the punishment Tuco gives them each for their actions. Around one third of the episode we find ourselves watching Tuco and Jimmy way out in the middle of the New Mexico desert – now this is definite Breaking Bad territory. 55665f75ca2741bdc1983c370bed5b00The vivid blue sky and the contrasting orange/beige desert landscape feature hugely and are even synonymous with Breaking Bad given that this is where Walt and Jesse did their cooking. There’s not a thing or a person in sight for miles around; it’s clear to see why this is the perfect location to cook meth and serves a brilliant killing location with no possibility of any witness, on top of this there’d be little interference therefore a dream location for shooting the scenes. During this time spent in the desert we (and possibly even Jimmy) discover for the first time that he’s got serious talent for negotiation, something he’s widely notorious for in Breaking Bad. He showcases these brilliant skills and proceeds to talk his way out of being murdered. This is a point in the series when despite his failures shows that he does know what he’s doing, as he himself even says “I just talked you down from a death sentence to six months probation, I’m the best lawyer in the world” after saving the lives of the skaters, who are seemingly ungrateful for his hard work. Whilst out in the desert, it’s worth bringing to light that Jimmy also created yet another new identity for himself – he was grasping at straws; “special agent Jeffrey Steal”, funnily enough though the speed in which he came up with that implied that there had probably been some prior thought on his part about this identity.

The pacing better-call-saul-episode-102-photos-jimmy-odenkirk-chuck-mckean-590of this episode was far more propulsive than the much slower paced “Uno”, this being due to us now being familiar with the key characters and concepts, giving opportunity for more action driven scenes. In this episode we learn a little more about eccentric ‘space blanket’ wearing Chuck, Jimmy’s older brother who worked and was a partner at Hamlin Hamlin McGill, and is of course a much more reputable and conventional lawyer than Jimmy. This episode also allows us to witness another side to Jimmy’s life. In Breaking Bad we heard of his multiple wives, however we never witness the romantic aspect of his life. In “Mijo” we see Jimmy on a date with a blonde, which is going swimmingly well until he has a run In with a guy and some breadsticks… It’s safe to say he didn’t take her home after their date, and instead ended up collapsed out on brother Chuck’s sofa still wearing a shirt and tie, with his mobile phone left on the grass in the garden… Long story.

This episode features everything you could want, and more than is expected from a show so early on in a series; we’ve got the protagonist melting in the scorching heat of the New Mexico desert, tied up with only Cartel men to decide his fate. This is a man who’s best weapon Is his mouth; he can talk his way out of anything (as this episode shows). We’ve got the return of some memorable faces, and we’re impressed overall as every aspect of the show if of as high a standard as its predecessor. The brilliant portrayal of the protagonist of the series, Jimmy/Saul by Bob Odenkirk is primarily what sets this show aside from other shows out there at the moment. But without Gould and Gilligan the show wouldn’t exist, they’ve got some of the best writers and directors in the industry working on it to make it as just good if not better than its parent show. Some of the greatest cinematographers working in TV are hired to make this the must stunning and visually/aesthetically pleasing show to air in TV history! Unfortunately now it’s another week until the next episode to gain another glimpse at Jimmy’s life. This episode is rated a huge 8.5 out of 10 for it’s superb story dynamics and substantial character development even after only two episodes.

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