Ahhhh! Can you smell that? That’s the smell of amazing quality television on AMC Monday nights. Yes, Better Call Saul is back for Season 2! This season kicks off with “Switch,” a look into the mind of a man who has run out of shits to give.
Before we get started, let’s get a quick recap on Season 1:
Chuck is an asshole. Jimmy now knows that Chuck is an asshole.
Okay, now that we’re all caught up, let’s get into the review!
The Cold Open: Mirroring the season premiere, we enter the season with a flash forward of Gene. The subtleties here are enormous. There is a difference in this Gene from the one we saw last year. He doesn’t seem as skittish, he is walking with this head up, and he even knows the floor buffer enough to nod at him. Added to which, we get many of the symbolic camera shots this universe is know for: long shots, reflection shots, and close-ups – all mimicking how much of a prison Gene is in – not only while trapped in this cement room for a few hours, but not being Saul Goodman. He gets his voice out, no matter how miniscule it seems, by adding his personal graffiti to the wall with “SG was here.”
Bookends: The bookends of “Switch” are brilliant. Gene refuses to open the emergency exit, which warns the police will come if the door opens. Granted, Gene shouldn’t have any dealing with the police, what really are the chances the police would come and catch him? At the end, Jimmy is in his new office
Spinners: Mid-life crisis? Definitely, but the choice to go to Spreewell rims for the brand new Hummer H2 is a precious ode to the stupid types of things we as consumers used to be into at that point in history.
Kim Wexler, or should we say Giselle St. Claire?: Did you notice how seamlessly Kim slipped into.. Slippin’ Kimmy? It is clear she is aware of Jimmy’s ‘Charlie Hustle’ antics, and maybe she has even participated before. Her past has got to come to light because she isn’t just a goodie-two-shoes lawyer. The con she and Jimmy run sparks some heat between the two, which makes one wonder if this is something the two used to do often.
Mike vs. Pryce: Mike refuses to get into Pryce’s gaudy ride. The best part of this scene is how sure Mike is and how unsure Pryce is, despite Pryce’s big talk. Again, Jonathan Banks acts with his eyes and nothing else needs to be said, making Mike the absolute best.
Nacho, the Robin Hood of Pill Pushers: It’s pretty hard not to like Nacho. He makes fun of Pryce right to his face, and uses his stupidity and flashiness against him. While selling drugs and stealing are bad, it is hard not to root for Nacho in this case.
Pacing: For those of us not fully content with the return of a Vince Gilligan-led television show, the pacing of the show may be painfully slow. This has, by no means, been the thrillride of a show that Breaking Bad has – although it still could be eventually. Better Call Saul may lose viewers who are on the fence where “nothing happens.” Sorry, not sorry; maybe try paying attention next time!
Ken loses: This guy has been deserving of at least an appearance in Better Call Saul. Way before Ken made his debut in “Cancer Man” (Season 1, Episode 4) of Breaking Bad, Jimmy McGill was nicklin and dimin’ him at fancy resorts.
Tequila, Fring-approved: That $50/shot tequila was no ordinary super-overpriced bottle of agave. That is the stuff of gods. “Even the bottle is a work of art,” said Don Eladio right before he got his ass poisoned by Gus Fring in “Salud” (Season 4, Episode 10 of Breaking Bad). Here, Zafiro Añejo is the name of the tequila that douchebag Ken has to pick the tab up on.
ABQ PD: Officer Saxton, one of the police officers dispatched to investigate Pryce’s home invasion is the same officer dispatched to the White home in “I.F.T.” when Skylar wants Walt out of the house.
Cocobolo: Jimmy wanted a Cocobolo desk last season when he tries his hand at a fancy office. Now he can finally get it and Davis and Main.
It Was All Yellow (and Red): Color always means something. Pryce’s car, shoes, and watch are no exception. Yellow has been synonymous with cowardice and pseudo-toughness throughout the series while red with crime, death, and murder. The two put together could be mean something else. The other two most noticeable red and yellow symbols in the series have been Jimmy’s car and the Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant. The the thing they all have in common are schemers. Jimmy, Pryce, and Gus are all schemers in some sense of the word. Maybe it is more than that, but that’s all we got for now.
Head-shot: Before Jimmy enters the Davis and Main offices, there is a repeat of Jimmy’s profile, similar to before he turns down the deal with them at the courthouse. It could be symbolic for looking forward, but we think it remains to be seen if this is the intended meaning.
Jules at the end of Pulp Fiction: Kim’s pop culture reference at the bar is an awesome reference to the Tarantino film… why am I bothering you with this nonsense? You already know. I’m just ready for Jimmy to strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy his brothers.
K-Strauss, Yo-Yo Master: Mark Proksch, the actor who plays Pryce used to have quite the “career” has K-Strauss, Yo-Yo Master. What this really meant was the Proksch would troll local news stations claiming to be a yo-yo master, and then just be really, really bad at yo-yoing. It’s actually pretty hysterical.
Mickey Mantle Rookie Card: Of course there are lots of different values you could put on a Mickey Mantle rookie card, which is now in Nacho’s possession. It all depends on the buyer, but one sold in 2010 for $130,000.
Red shirt, blue shirt: When Viktor with a “K” and Giselle Saint Clair sit down to hustle Ken Wins out of his funds, Viktor (Jimmy) is wearing a red shirt and Giselle (Kim) is wearing a blue shirt. This seems reminiscent of Walt and Skylar, whose signature colors were red and blue, respectively.
Lucky duck: The horseshoe-shaped pool is pretty deliberate. Is it a comment on Jimmy’s luck? Couple that with him constantly looking at Marco’s ring, Jimmy seems pretty damn lucky.
Music from the Episode:
Billy Walker croons “Funny How Time Slips Away” as Gene the Cinnabon manager closes up shop.
Hush Comics gives “Switch” a B+ for being chock full of detail, some of the best lines of the series, but for outcome being the case whether the trip to Cicero happened or not.
All media credited to AMC Television and Ursula Coyote unless otherwise stated.