Better Call Saul, Season 1, Episode 10 (Marco).
Kim asks quite bluntly, “Did you get it out of your system?”. We see Jimmy attempt to live his legal life, revert back to Slippin’ Jimmy, decide that his clients need him, but then fall back to Slippin’ Jimmy once more. This criminal and sleazy lifestyle is something which reviews of previous episodes have pointed out again and again – Jimmy by his true nature cannot play it by-the-book. To illustrate Jimmy’s influence to this lifestyle, Peter Gould brings back a character who had appeared to only have a minor role in past episodes. We’ve seen Marco before, he was Slippin’ Jimmy’s protege in a flashback to Jimmy’s past. To understand our present protagonist, we have to see what influenced him to become who he is. What has caused Jimmy to turn to being a lawyer and what’s caused his hatred for HHM has already been established to the audience; but one thing we’ve never seen is how happy Jimmy can be when living as Slippin’ Jimmy.
In a noir-styled hustler montage, we see the two characters deceive their victims into giving them free money. It’s a beautifully directed scene, but one notable thing from the scene is the differentiated spotlight colour with Marco and with Jimmy. Marco is shaded in red light to convey his almost evil influence onto Jimmy, yet Jimmy is given a blue spotlight which could signify the pleasure which is overcome from returning to his deviant route.
After the montage, we see Jimmy awake to two women complaining that he’s not Kevin Costner. This is a wonderful callback to season 3 of Breaking Bad where Saul Goodman claims “If you’re committed enough, you can make any story work. I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it”. This level of confidence is something which we haven’t really been from Jimmy before, yet Saul obviously took pride in having achieved such in the past which really emphasises just how much Jimmy may have been enjoying returning to his deviant route. Yet what the audience does know is that he cannot stay this pleased with this lifestyle for long – something criminal must influence Jimmy to turn the tables again and gain a new identity as Saul Goodman.
Nevertheless Jimmy feels the urge to embrace the dark-side. Kim’s question to Jimmy is followed up with a job offer in a separate lawyer firm outside of Chuck’s control. This basically overcomes the obstacle of Jimmy becoming a successful lawyer which has been apparent all season as he no longer has to rely on HHM; but of course something has to break Jimmy’s progression. What breaks it, what influences Slippin’ Jimmy again and again is the cycle of Marco. When Jimmy initially decides to head back to his life in elder law, Marco pleads for one last Rolex scam, just as the one we’ve seen previously. The cycle appears to be broken when Marco abruptly dies during the scam which we’ve first came to meet Marco; this is exactly why we’re to assume Jimmy would normally return to elder law. But it wasn’t out of his system like Kim had asked. Marco still had a connection to Jimmy and the symbolic ring was enough to remind Jimmy that.
What we’ve seen this season is the protagonist debate what’s right and what’s wrong. How to differentiate the “good” from the “bad”. Pimento wrapped up the debate with Mike establishing the difference between a “bad guy” and a “criminal”. Yes, we’ve seen Jimmy scam endless amounts of people, but perhaps his good acts within the season signifies that he still isn’t a “bad guy”. Even so Jimmy turns to Mike to question why he had said giving away the Kettleman’s money was “the right thing to do”. The money could have aided Jimmy in getting that office he had so desperately wanted – but the right thing was to return the money and to let Kim take the case. Yet in in the end, it’s resulted in Jimmy being as miserable as ever. Instead Jimmy declares that “it’s never stopping me again” and that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Slippin’ Jimmy.
For how long of season 2 will we see Jimmy in this dark route is in question, yet even so this series was outstanding alone. Better Call Saul managed to take on the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad and perhaps build a better debut season. It was quite a journey for us to unravel this character of Slippin’ Jimmy, and it’ll be interesting to see where season 2 takes us.
+ Speaking of Breaking Bad references, did anyone notice during the Bingo scene the reference to Belize?
+ But there’s plenty more I could say about the Bingo scene. Wonderful delivery from Bob Odenkirk, and I want to hear more of this faeces dumping incident.
+ The Kennedy half dollar scenario really had me wondering about which way he actually faces.
– Mike was significantly underused, not just in this episode, but in all this season. I understand that there isn’t a way he could actually fit within the plot of this episode, but it would’ve been nice for him to have been featured a bit longer than just the final scene.