Better Call Saul: “Mijo” Season 1 Episode 2 Review

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Well, it only took two episodes for characters to be on their knees begging for mercy in the middle of the desert.

The second episode of Better Call Saul quickly established the extremes the show can go to while remaining strapped in realism. Breaking Bad fans will remember that show doing the same thing, with a tub full of blood and acid crashing through Jesse’s ceiling in just the second episode.

In Saul, we have the manic Tuco (Raymond Cruz reprising his role) bringing the crazy as we see him deal with the skateboard twins and then eventually Saul. Of course Tuco is overly protective his grandmother, he was the same way about his Uncle Hector in Bad. He brings them all to the desert to get some answers, where he’s joined by the cool-headed Nacho (Orphan Black‘s Michael Mando), who looks to play a large role in this series.

The whole desert sequence, while very tense, felt a little too familiar. If Better Call Saul is going to separate itself from its predecessor, it needs to learn to not rely on the tropes that made Breaking Bad so iconic. Bob Odenkirk did a wonderful job when Jimmy had to bargain with Tuco for the twins’ lives (he’ll settle for a broken leg on each). It was darkly funny and a little more in line with the heightened comedic tone Saul set up in the pilot than the rest of the scene. But I have to say, I hope Tuco’s role is somewhat limited on this series to avoid the risk of things feeling too much like Breaking Bad.

The second half of the episode saw Jimmy readjusting to his life after being scared sh*tless by Tuco. We see him dealing first-hand with his brother’s disease, which continues to successfully humanize the man that will become Saul Goodman.

The episode ends with Nacho coming to Jimmy’s office to ask where the skateboard twins keep their money so he can steal it. Jimmy refuses only for Nacho to put his number on one of Jimmy’s matchbooks and tell him that, like it or not, he’s already in the game. Juxtaposed to Walter White’s journey, Jimmy doesn’t want to be in the game whereas Walt started playing when no one was looking. This is an important difference to remember because Walt ends up being Breaking Bad‘s greatest villain, where Better Call Saul likely won’t take the same route with Jimmy McGill. It’s a smart way to keep the writers in check on whether they’re heading to close to roads already traveled.

So while “Mijo” felt a bit too much like the show Saul spun off from, it still illustrated a few differences that will separate it from its predecessor. With the supporting cast hopefully getting fleshed out soon, Better Call Saul can ease comfortably into a groove that will keep fans guessing while walking its own path. That’s if it’s smart enough to do so. I like the odds. Grade: B+


Some Other Notes:

– Amazingly, Tuco only appeared in four episodes of Breaking Bad, yet he made a big enough impression that every fan knows who he is, let alone probably being giddy at his very appearance.

– Considering Better Call Saul is said to eventually directly intersect with the Breaking Bad timeline, I’m not keen to get too attached to many supporting characters. They might not be sticking around for too long.

– “I’m a lawyer, not a criminal,” Jimmy says to Nacho in their meeting. What was it that Jesse said to Walt before they met Saul for the first time? “When the going gets tough, you don’t want a criminal lawyer, you want a criminal lawyer.” This is going to a be a fun ride.


By Matt Dougherty

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