Better Call Saul: “Amarillo” Season 2 Episode 3 Review

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Following up the tremendous two episodes before this one was a near impossible task, so it’s hard to fault “Amarillo” for just being really good when the two preceding it were great and/or incredible. This is an episode to catch our breath with the new circumstances of the entire cast. It’s well done and continues to move the plot forward, even if there’s a large feeling that there are bigger events to come that the creators are more excited to dig their teeth into.

The episode starts with Jimmy stopping a busload of senior citizens from a Sandpiper home in Texas. Bob Odenkirk has always been at his best as the character when he’s trying to spin something. Jimmy joyfully panders to the crowd and gets them all to join the client base against Sandpiper. It’s also illegal. This cold open continues down the path the outstanding “Cobbler” started, having Jimmy move toward Saul by doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons.

Interestingly enough, the very next shot after the credits is of Chuck back again in the office. His appearance last week was no fluke, Chuck is back at work and ready to poke every hole he can in Jimmy’s work. We once again get the sense that Chuck and Kim are fighting for Jimmy’s soul, which didn’t quite need to be so explicitly done over again after “Cobbler.” But Kim does push Jimmy to find an alternate means to rope in these clients, sparking the hysterical, just barely over-the-top commercial targeted at the senior citizens during the 3pm Murder She Wrote rerun timeslot. The calls come pouring in, but the partners aren’t happy that Jimmy went ahead without their approval. It’s Jimmy’s inability to adhere to the basic rules that appear to be dooming him. A little more justification for why Jimmy felt the need to go ahead without the partners might have made this story click a little better though.

Meanwhile, Mike is on his own path to darkness. The money he’s making is barely enough to keep himself and Stacey and her daughter afloat. The only thing keeping him from making more is his refusal to take on more nefarious gigs. But that’s over once it’s clear that Stacey’s piece of mind and sanity is at stake. The big mystery of who asked for Mike and Mike alone was handled with so much caution and vagueness that the obvious choice, and who it ended up being, seemed out of the question. Frankly, when Mike walked into that empty warehouse, I was ready for Gus Fring to be waiting on the other side. How that would be possible at the moment would need some explaining of course. But it just ended up being Nacho. Still, having Mike working with someone closely related to Tuco is a significant step toward Gus.

Overall though, despite a few cop outs and undersold moments, “Amarillo” kept things moving with gripping storytelling and strong performances. It may be more set up after we got a bunch of that last week, but it’s still pointing toward one hell of a season ahead. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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