Better Call Saul, Season 1, Episode 4 (Hero).
“Stop pretending” Kim Wexler commands Jimmy. Saul’s always been a sleazy lawyer at heart, and no matter how much the writers attempt to suggest otherwise, we know that money becomes prioritised over his morals. Throughout several stages within the episode, Jimmy is faced with moral challenges; does he help out the “butthole” on the floor? Does he legally return the Kettleman family? Does he actually have a heroic personality to save a man falling from a billboard? At all these stages the writers conveys a sense of morality within the character – yet the resolution of these situations always ends up with Jimmy not “pretending” and being his own sleazy self.
As an audience though, we’re all awaiting to see the pivoting point where Jimmy becomes Saul Goodman. It’s clearly acknowledged by the creators, as in the flashback opener, we’re teased “S’all good man” as Jimmy befriends (to scam) a random stranger. But there’s more emphasis on Jimmy’s name than ever. Jimmy criticises the lawyer firm ‘Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill’ for denying Jimmy to use his name to advertise himself – of course one way to overcome that is by rebranding himself as Saul.
But rebranding is actually how this whole “pretending” topic occurs. Jimmy feels almost insulted when he’s seen as nothing other than a lawyer for guilty people. We see the hidden ideology of Jimmy becoming a massive and successful lawyer, yet it’s almost tragic as we know the outcome to his dream. Saul Goodman is a lawyer for guilty people. Even so, his greed urges him to take the Kettleman’s money, and attempt to present himself as something else.
Manipulating is the key technique our protagonist uses. He pays other people to aid Jimmy and manipulate others in society, he attempts to manipulate Chuck and make him unaware of him manipulating others. Even by attempting to present himself as something else by essentially copying all the elegant aspects of ‘Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill’, Jimmy still makes this feel as a sleazy move, knowing very well that there would be complaints and that he could manipulate a heroic character through the media.
Even when we think we understand what Jimmy intends to do, it turn’s out we were manipulated too.
The episode becomes a success due to us discovering that Jimmy is an unpredictable character. Whatever heroic acts he may perceive himself with, by heart he is nothing more than a glorified con-man. There’s also other hints of the overlaying plot, as Nacho detects Jimmy double-crossing him and threatens “there will be consequences”. While we’re distracted by the funny dialogue and the discovering of Jimmy’s character, there’s a dark build-up in the midst of the plot which will surely play a vital part later in the series.
+ Yep, exactly the same score as the previous episode. I love how even as the plot essentially is portraying a sense of desperation of our character, somehow comedy still features in the majority of the script.
+ Space-Blanket is back. That whole scene I was hoping Chuck would go outside – because you know, that would lead to Space-Blanket.
+ “They’re rich. They’re powerful. I’m just one man.” Capitalism at it’s finest.