TV Review: Better Call Saul, Season 1, Episode 2: Mijo
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 2: Mijo
PLOT: Having run afoul of drug dealer Tucco (Raymond Cruz), Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) has to do some fancy wheeling and dealing in order to save his life. Little does he realize, he's almost too persuasive, with him impressiing Tucco's associate, Nacho Varga (Michael Mando).
REVIEW: And we're back! A mere twenty-four hours after its record-breaking debut, BETTER CALL SAUL is back for a second episode which may be even better than the pilot, proving it's not a fluke. SAUL is the real deal. Benefiting strongly from the direction of BREAKING BAD regular Michelle MacLaren, 'Mijo' doesn't waste any time picking up on Saul's (well, Jimmy's) predicament from the last episode. Hoping to ingratiate himself to the wife of a corrupt treasurer, Saul (Jimmy) and his skateboarding cronies find themselves Tucco's prisoner. Before you can say “Heisenberg” the three find themselves out in the very familiar New Mexico desert, looking down the barrel of Tuco's gun.
Always one of the more unpredictable guys in BREAKING BAD, it's clear Tucco wasn't any milder in his pre-Walter White days. Lucky for Jimmy, Tucco's associate, Nacho Varga (Mando is billed as a regular) is a much calmer guy who manages to get Saul spared. We see glimmers of Saul's own better nature as he desperately tries to negotiate for the skate-twins lives, managing to convince Tucco only to break one leg a piece. MacLaren's directing is excellent, with the slow zoom-in on Jimmy as watches them get maimed. The call-back to this as Jimmy's wining and dining a local gal only to be freaked out by the snaps of bread-sticks and the like remind me of the best bits and pieces of BREAKING BAD, proving this show is already just as slick on a technical level (hopefully MacLaren – who's going to be busy with WONDER WOMAN – comes back now and then).
Like yesterday's episode, this is heavy on Jimmy McGill's character development, as we see him inch towards Saul's gray area, although he's still a conscientious (if corrupt) fellow. Once again, the great Michael McKean is on hand as Jimmy's brother Chuck, who has a mini-meltdown when the drunk Jimmy lets himself in to his de-electrified abode without “grounding himself” and (gasp!) carrying a cell phone.
It's a pretty lean and mean episode, with the last couple minutes being a great montage showing Jimmy ply his courthouse trade, but it ends on a really intriguing note, with Nacho trying to convince Jimmy to help him rob the corrupt treasurer. It doesn't take a genius to figure this will start Jimmy's decline (or rather rise) although showing how Jimmy turns into the mobbed-up Saul will likely be the show's main thrust (one figures things won't end well for Chuck or Nacho as neither figure in the BB universe). Watching how this plays out will be a joy, and only two episodes-in BETTER CALL SAUL is already proving itself worthy of being called appointment TV. I hope it stays this strong, but you know what? I think it's going to get even better.
BREAKING BAD crossover: For the most part, this episode does away with the BREAKING BAD nods and winks, even though Tucco is still just as unpredictable and violent as he was in his dealings with Walter White. Mike (Jonathan Banks) also pops up in the courthouse montage, although so far he's sticking in his tollbooth (to Jimmy's chagrin).