Better Call Saul 3.01: Mabel
So here we are three seasons into the 'little brother' show of the mighty Breaking Bad , the namely Better Call Saul . A show that doesn't try to be Breaking Bad but is informed by, and infused with, the characters and landscapes of said show.
Just like previous season's we see modern day Jimmy, mundanely going about his day to day job as 'Gene' the manager of a local Cinnabon shop. His day is broken at lunchtime by a local shoplifter getting himself caught, after Jimmy points him out hiding in a photo booth, right in front of him. Shouting out that the culprit should stay quiet and get a lawyer is a rare break in character as Saul comes to the surface for a brief second. These black and white sections peppered through the previous season's have always intrigued me as they are after Breaking Bad and the place where former characters can pop up and ultimately where the further adventures can go, after all we know how Saul got here but we don't know where he will go. Other than collapsing back at the Cinnabon that is.
Back in 2002, our man Jimmy is helping his brother remove the foil sheets from the walls of his study. His brother is thankful for the help, although a little cloying, and informs Jimmy, that although he is thankful for his help this does not remove the fact that Jimmy sabotaged the letters and nearly cost Chuck his job. The interchange shows Jimmy's character though. At this point, with the anger of his brother simmering under the service, surely Jimmy would not bother with his brother, but no Jimmy is there, helping his brother. A show of good character from someone who is slowly and surely heading down the rabbit hole towards Saul Goodman.
Chuck takes the recorded tape to Howard and they discuss the viable options for the tape in a court of law. Chuck is adamant he has a smoking gun but Howard, disagrees. Decrying that Jimmy would get audio experts to refute the voice on the tape is his comeback. It's quite a moment within the episode as, effectively, that was the cliff hanger from last season and we are not 30 minutes into the new season and that threat has already been extinguished. Chuck has other ideas for the tape though and retains it.
Bauer, a military character last seen in Season 2 Episode 8 episode Fifi visits Jimmy as is outraged that he was tricked into believing Fudge was a military veteran and want's the recent commercial Jimmy shot removed as soon as possible. Throughout the two seasons Jimmy has kept a veil over his true personality and played a character but her we see a chink in his armour as he gets frustrated at the audacity of Bauer reentering his life, shouting and screaming with a corridor full of clients outside. As always Bob Odenkirk is comfortable in Jimmy's skin and plays the scene and it's rollercoaster of emotions well. Kim Wexler (Rhea Seahorn) is having second thoughts about running her own law firm, especially alongside Jimmy's firm and her knowledge of his recent fabrication of evidence.
If there is a Walter White or more importantly a 'Heisenberg' in Better Call Saul its Mike Ermantraut expertly played by Jonathan Banks. From his time on Breaking Bad and his heart breaking death there, here he lives. Not one normally to be shaken, Mike is playing detective and trying to find out who is tracking him and why. After playing mechanic and demolishing his car, he finds a tracker inside the gas cap. Replacing and hatching a plan and turning the tide on his stalkers, he replaces the tracker and follows the stalkers into the night.
Every episode watched of Better Call Saul is a character driven, plot heavy episode of well written and directed television. Everybody plays their characters with nuance and passion. The setting of New Mexico is part of the cast also, from vast vista's with Mike in the desert or with Mike sitting patiently at his window as the moon and street light stream through the partially open curtains, the setting is unique and used well. It's no secret that Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) will be back in future episodes and how and why he fits in will keep the fan's glued to the screen as always.