TV Review: Better Call Saul: Episode 10: Marco (SPOILERS)
This recap/review of Better Call Saul is written with the expectation that everyone who reads this and comments below will have seen the episode already. Thus, if you've yet to see the episode in question, DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER. SPOILERS!
EPISODE: Season 1, Episode 10: Marco
PLOT: More disillusioned than ever, Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) returns to his old Chicago stomping grounds to reconnect with his old con buddy Marco (Mel Rodriguez).
REVIEW: And with that, the first season of Better Call Saul is in the books. Running only ten episodes, the season wrapped up in the way many of us presumed it would, with Jimmy McGill finally embracing his inner con and dropping the veneer of respectability he hoped to affect. Truly, the whole season has been about this evolution/devolution, to the extent that the crime aspects of the show retreated (more or less) to the background after the first few episodes save for the classic Mike (Jonathan Banks) centric episode and the follow-up with his character.
What's really impressive about Better Call Saul as a show is that in the end we were happy to forget about the thriller-elements of the show as Jimmy's arc wound up being so fascinating. Show-runners Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould (who also directed tonight's episode) have gone-on-record saying that the season played out in a way they didn't anticipate as they became so smitten with Jimmy as a character. I think everyone who watches this religiously can say the same thing and in the end, it doesn't matter a lick that Better Call Saul is no Breaking Bad. It really doesn't need to be.
However, next season things may change tremendously as Jimmy's firmly now in Saul territory. In order for Saul to thrive, Jimmy had to be destroyed in a matter-of-speaking, and sure enough Chuck's (Michael McKean) words did their trick. What's really interesting is that Jimmy's nemesis, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) didn't turn out to be such a bad guy at all. When Jimmy turns over the case he treats him more than fairly, and the fact that he allowed Jimmy to despise him so much so that he wouldn't have to live with the knowledge that Chuck is against him puts him in a totally new light. It'll be interesting to see how their dynamic plays out in future seasons now that Jimmy/Saul's going to be exactly the scumbag Chuck always said he'd be.
As in other episodes, Odenkirk is good as hell here, with his ten-minute bingo-parlor monologue being a thing of beauty. Odenkirk expertly straddles the line between comedy and poignancy, giving Jimmy some real pathos as he explains the jam Chuck got him out of that could have led to him being labeled a sex offender (a Chicago-sunroof). Once he pairs up with his pal Marco (a terrific Mel Rodriguez who co-stars on Fox's Last Man of Earth), Odenkirk effortlessly slides into Saul's slippery boots, rediscovering how good he felt as Slippin' Jimmy, damn the consequences (hey you're not Kevin Costner!).
One thing that's surprising is that Mike's screen-time was limited to one scene, albeit an important one. While he's still working in the courthouse tollbooth, it's clear Mike's in business, and his last exchange with Jimmy/Saul suggests the two will go on to big things together. With Jimmy turning his back on respectability once and for all, both characters are now fully transformed into early versions of the guys they played on Breaking Bad, and it'll be interesting to see where Better Call Saul goes from here. In the end, this was an absolutely rock-solid season and I think it's safe to say that AMC has found themselves their next great drama. I can't wait for season two.
Breaking Bad Crossover: While sadly, Gus Fring has yet to make an appearance, there were two big Breaking Bad call-outs that I spotted. The most obvious is Jimmy inheriting his blingy trademark pinky ring from Marco, while earlier in the episode, Jimmy makes reference to Belize, albeit as a hypothetical place he'd like to visit, not a place where one sleeps with the fishes.