Last week Better Call Saul premiered with a duo of superb episodes and in response I wrote a lengthy review about how great Breaking Bad was. I mean, on the real, it’s pretty hard to talk about Better Call Saul without nodding to what came before, however, as I stated in that review, if Saul wants to achieve real success it needs to forge its own path. As such, I’m going to make herculean efforts to avoid mentioning that other show. The record-breaking two-night premiere opened up with a surprising sequence of a broken Saul Goodman working at a mall eatery in the Midwest. Not only did that scene provide a treat for fans of… that other show… it more importantly let the viewer know that a straightforward timeline is of no burden to producers Peter Gould, Vince Gilligan, and the rest of the writing staff. The creators bolster this non-linear nature by countering 1.01’s flashforward with a flashback in 1.03. Here we see for the first time “Slippin’ Jimmy,” a pseudo-persona mentioned by Jimmy/Saul in the premiere while recalling his days as a scam artist. The probably twenty-something Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is locked up in Chicago’s Cook County jail for an undisclosed crime that could result in sexual assault charges. Dutiful Chuck McGill (Michael McKean), dapper and screaming of poise and success, arrives from Albuquerque to give his brother a lecture, chastising him for five years of no contact followed by this sudden plea for help. While still trying to act smooth, Jimmy begs Chuck to use his lawyer magic to clear his name and in exchange promises to finally clean up his act. While there’s a lot missing in this scene, namely context, the narrative device of a malleable timeline gives the show a fun flavoring that could pay off huge in the following episodes and seasons. The show is smartly establishing that it can cut through the burdensome red tape of traditional storytelling and give us a protracted view of the main character. So far this is one of the most promising elements of the show and I’m eager to get more glimpses of both “Slippin’ Jimmy” and “Cinnabon Saul.” This third episode’s main action works to set up some of the characters that were only briefly introduced in the first two hours. The most mysterious player so far is Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), a woman with whom Jimmy shared a moody cigarette with in a first episode. It was implied through their mostly silent interaction that the two have an intimate though complicated history and that sentiment is expounded upon. Jimmy calls Kim in the middle of the night to discuss suspected embezzlers, the Kettlemans (Julie Ann Emery and Jeremy Shamos) and through their frank and flirtatious exchanges it’s clear Kim, a high ranking (I assume) lawyer at Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill, is probably the character that knows Jimmy best. As we get more background on her I’d imagine we’ll also find out a lot more about him too. Another side character that is built for a pivotal role but is still working under a partial eclipse is Nacho (Michael Mando), compatriot of the lethal Tuco. Despite lending the hour his nickname, Nacho actually doesn’t have a great deal of screen time here but that little bit puts wheels on the plot. After last episode’s reveal that Nacho plans to rob the Kettlemans, Jimmy gets a bit panicky and attempts to warn the couple via phone of impending danger. When the Kettlemans, kids and all, go missing the next day, a stalking Nacho is arrested on kidnapping charges. This causes the generally demure criminal to blame Jimmy for his incarceration and forgoes spin in explaining to his newly-appointed lawyer that if he’s not released within a day he’ll end Jimmy’s life. As in the other show our protagonist was always particularly jumpy when faced with the violence of gangster-types, thus a prenatal Saul is shaken to his core by the threat and diligently attempts to find the Kettlemans in order to clear Nacho’s name. Through Kim he’s able to gain access to the family home and uses some extremely apt reasoning to deduce that the most likely explanation for the Kettleman’s disappearance is that they fled on their own accord. Of course the police in charge of the investigation scoff at this theory, but an unlikely assist gives Jimmy a much-needed out. The show finally gets around to re-introducing Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), future right-hand man of our main character. Mike’s role in the premiere was an almost cameo role but here we see the budding of his working relationship with Jimmy. After the stressed lawyer gips Mike out of parking fare, the ornery former cop dishes out a little corporal revenge which then leads to the aforementioned cops threatening to proceed with assault charges against Jimmy if he doesn’t get Nacho to reveal the location of the Kettlemans. Mike, the master of detecting and squashing bullshit, refuses to move forward on charges as he believes Jimmy’s story. The following scene, Mike doling out advice and Jimmy hungrily accepting it, bleeds tense, fun energy and speaks to the natural chemistry the actors have. Unlike Kim and Nacho this is a relationship that benefits from a slow burn. After considering Mike’s suggestion that the Kettlemans most likely fled somewhere close to home Jimmy takes a walk in the woods where he finds a singing family holed up in a tent. The episode closes as a duffel bag is ripped asunder and bundles of large denominations lay scattered in front of Jimmy. The viewer is left wondering how much of that greedy Saul persona is already starting to swirl inside Jimmy McGill. “Nacho” was a good episode, pushing forward the momentum the first two started while expanding the mythology a bit. However, if I’m going to be a keen and judicial critic, I need to say I felt a tiny smidge underwhelmed by the whole thing. Some of the plot conveniences bothered me because the other show was just so miraculously proficient at wrapping up all loose ends. Jimmy calling the Kettlemans was one part that seemed off, a fumbling way to show the difference between the current iteration of the character and the future Saul persona. The call itself is a huge plot point, it puts Nacho in jail and gives Jimmy the all important ticking time bomb any good piece of fiction needs, but it just didn’t feel organic. On a similar note, Jimmy wandering the New Mexico countryside on a whim and a hope is far-fetched to me. I get that he was desperate and without options, but the way it was shot, with Jimmy finding the family’s tent just at cusp of dusk, didn’t speak to the meticulousness I’ve come to expect. Better Call Saul is still working out the kinks. A lot is expected of this show, at least by this watcher, and I’m not afraid to be a little harsh in my assessment. That said, it has not failed in any aspect yet, it just needs to promote the story structure and side characters, and let the main character simply ease into his destiny. Better Call Saul 1.03 "Nacho"Jamil's Rating3.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.