Better Call Saul: “Switch” Season 2 Premiere Review

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Season two of Better Call Saul begins with a cold reminder that Jimmy McGill’s life is only going to plummet out of his control from where we last left him. Closing the Cinnabon in the mall he works at after the events of Breaking Bad, he cheerily says goodnight to his much younger coworkers, showing us that part of the likable version of this character Saul revealed only after Bad concluded still exists far into the future. Getting himself stuck in the garbage room with no way out that won’t trigger the police, Jimmy’s life is over, making everything “Switch” shows us after seem all the more tragic.

Still, upon returning to Jimmy’s career in 2002, it’s clear Saul has lost none of its humor or surprising heart. In last year’s finale, Jimmy seemed to just randomly turn into Saul Goodman, but this season premiere works hard to show us that his choice isn’t as simple as that. “Switch” works because Jimmy wants so badly not to care (he’s “quitting the law” he says), but there’s one thing proving that he does and maybe always will.

The rocky, vague relationship between Jimmy and Kim was always lurking in the background of Saul‘s first season. “Switch” puts it in the foreground, building a more natural chemistry between them than ever before. Bob Odenkirk remains at the top of his game while Rhea Seehorn has some fun letting Kim dabble in the dark arts. With Jimmy decidedly not taking the job at the law firm, Kim is just trying to understand him, borderline begging him to reconsider. But Jimmy spots an arrogant investing consultant that he can swindle into a free bar tab, and Kim, hesitant at first, eventually plays along and even enjoys herself. It’s a fantasy of what could be between two people who, at a magical point of maturity that’ll likely never manifest, could share a beautiful love story. Hell, Kim even sleeps with Jimmy here. But Jimmy’s life isn’t destined for a happy ending. At least until Saul’s flash-forwards potentially justify one, but that seems unlikely.

So after Kim leaves and fails to return Jimmy’s calls, he schleps back to the law world, where a shiny new desk (and company car) await him. It’s a moment of false victory for Jimmy, partially because we know he’ll fall again and that he hardly seems like he wants to be there at all. To close the episode, he flips a switch in his new office marked “Always leave on.” He waits a few seconds and nothing happens. What drives the tragedy of Better Call Saul is that Jimmy’s world has shown him no consequences for his actions, but, one day, he’s going to innocently flip that switch and the world’s going to end. Grade: A-

Some Other Notes:

  • Besides Jimmy and Kim, the rest of the main cast only made brief appearances, if any at all. Mike, Howard, and Nacho each only really have one scene this week, with Chuck remaining the one lingering mystery of season two.
  • The only other real character in this episode was Mike’s hilariously pathetic client, who now sports a decked out Hummer. If Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould thought it was important enough to remove the focus on Jimmy and Kim to focus on this guy for a couple scenes, I’m very excited to see where this story goes. We learned all too well on Breaking Bad that “punchline subplots” always have their role to play in the darker overall story.
  • I’ve got to say, I missed this show more than I thought. Check back in with us each week for reviews of Better Call Saul all season!

By Matt Dougherty

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