With an amazing second season of “Better Call Saul,” Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould prove you don’t need blue meth to have a good time. In season two, we dive further into the shaky relationship between the diametrically opposed McGill brothers, Jimmy (a hilariously dark Bob Odenkirk) and Chuck (Michael McKean). We also see inspiring flashes of the flamboyant personality that will define Saul Goodman and his experimentation with bending the rules to their ultimate breaking point. Let’s also not forget to mention the development of Mike (Jonathan Banks) and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn).
When we last saw Jimmy, he wasn’t going to let the law get in the way of greatness. In the opening of this season, he turns out a cushy gig at law firm Davis & Main to be a full-time “Slippin’ Jimmy,” going all Chevy Chase at the local country club. After pulling off a great tequila-related con with Kim, he caves and takes the job.
Is professional walk-the-straight-line the kind of life for our eponymous antihero? Clearly, the answer is no as he manages to get in hot water with his boss by airing an unauthorized commercial on the firm’s behalf— a prelude to the schlocky late-night infomercials we later see in “Breaking Bad.” Then he concocts a hilarious scheme to be fired while also being able to retain his signing bonus. In one of the season’s great montages, he wears flashy suits, plays the bagpipes and doesn’t flush after using the restroom.
For all of Jimmy’s misconduct, Kim is placed in the doghouse (a.k.a. file review in the bowels of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill) by Howard. She gets courted by Schweikart & Cokely before deciding it’s time to start her own practice. Kim’s romantic relationship with Jimmy comes under tension when she becomes aware of his unorthodox methods of tampering with evidence or straight up lying. I’ll never look at banana cream pie the same way again.
Meanwhile, Mike pisses off the wrong Salamanca, Tuco’s uncle Hector (a returning Mark Margolis) when he gets Tuco put in jail for possession of a firearm as a favor to Nacho. But Mike is one dude Hector can’t intimidate with fear or threats against his daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Needless to say, one purchase of a hunting rifle later and I think we can assume how ringing a bell becomes Hector’s main form of communication.
The last few episodes of season two focus on a battle of wills and wits between Jimmy, Chuck, Mike and Hector. Jimmy sabotages his own brother in the name of love and Mike plots the downfall of an imbalanced crime lord.
“Better Call Saul” is slow, sure, but manages to say and do so much with very little. A location, a flashback, a song or a stunning camera shot — one particular tracking shot recalls the opening scene of Orson Wells’s classic noir “Touch of Evil” — all make the show a golden companion to “Breaking Bad” while also standing on its own. This skewed juxtaposition of law and discord in this modern version of the “Wild West” is what it’s all about.
Much like his future client Walter White, Jimmy does tend to ruin everything he touches, even when approaching with the best intentions. For instance, changing some addresses opens a Pandora’s box of mayhem. And by the cliffhanging (albeit a little lackluster) season’s end, it seems like Chuck has caught Jimmy at his own game in a Watergate sort of way. As if we didn’t need more of a reason to hate the goody-goody Chuck. It will be interesting to see where the story goes from here and how we will inch ever closer to Saul’s intersection with the drug-fueled world of “Breaking Bad.” In other words, give us more Jimmy!