‘Better Call Saul’ recap: Jimmy’s career path hits a fork in the road
Can Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) succeed as an ethical attorney in sun-scorched Albuquerque, N.M.? Or will he revert to his old “Slippin’ Jimmy” con artist tricks that he honed in Cicero, Ill.?
Jimmy’s deep-seated ambivalence about what career path he should follow plays out in “Switch,” the Season 2 premiere of “Better Call Saul,” the prequel and sometimes sequel to AMC’s “Breaking Bad.”
Just like in last year’s pilot, this latest installment begins with a flash-forward sequence in which Jimmy quietly manages a Cinnabon bakery at a Nebraska shopping mall.
His high-flying days as Saul Goodman, the unscrupulous lawyer for meth kingpin Walter White (Bryan Cranston), are but a memory. Moreover, Jimmy goes by an alias so he can hide from vengeful drug dealers, police detectives and anyone else who could link him with his notorious past.
Soon, the episode flashes back to a pivotal point in Jimmy’s life as he ponders a lucrative job offer from a law firm headed by Clifford (Ed Begley Jr.).
When it comes time to make a choice, Jimmy’s con artist side takes control, and he politely declines Clifford’s invitation. Driving away in his beat-up car, Jimmy pauses to ask his former accomplice, parking lot attendant Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), a key question.
Why didn’t they split the $1.6 million Mike stole from the corrupt county treasurer? Why, instead, did Jimmy “do the right thing” by turning over the embezzled funds to prosecutors?
“I know what stopped me” from keeping the money, Jimmy exclaims, referring to his altruistic side. “And you know, it’s never stopping me again!”
Mystified at Jimmy’s erratic behavior is his confidant Kimberly Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), a talented attorney with Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. Kim confronts Jimmy at a posh resort, where he floats in a swimming pool with an umbrella drink in hand.
“So this is what a midlife crisis looks like,” Kim says with a mix of anger and concern. “Clearly explain to me why you walked out on the best job opportunity of your life.” Why abandon his law practice after working so hard to get established?
Jimmy responds that he won’t be deceived by the “sunk cost fallacy.”
“It’s what gamblers do,” Jimmy explains. “They throw good money after bad thinking they can turn their luck around.” So rather than fight a losing battle in the legal world, Jimmy claims his talents “are better suited elsewhere.”
To demonstrate his dark skills, Jimmy expertly manipulates Ken (Kyle Bornheimer), a wealth manager who brags that he’s “practically a money-printing machine.” Despite some reluctance, Kim plays along.
Pretending to be siblings who’ve just inherited a fortune, Jimmy and Kim feign ignorance of investment strategies while ordering outrageously expensive drinks. Later, they sign fake names on Ken’s contract and then hurry off before he can examine the bar tab.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that every night,” Jimmy says with a giddy laugh.
“Yes it would,” Kim replies with a mischievous smile. “But we can’t.”
Jimmy is tempted to initiate another scam, this one targeting a rich older man (Curtis Plagge) and his sexy, much-younger girlfriend (Brianna Danfelser). But suddenly, the better side of Jimmy’s nature takes over. He accepts that job offer from Clifford.
Finally, Mike earns cash on the side by providing protection for Daniel Wormald (Mark Proksch), a nerdy IT professional who steals meds from a pharmaceutical company, then sells them to drug dealer Nacho Varga (Michael Mando).
When Daniel opts to leave Mike behind, Nacho slyly memorizes Daniel’s address from his vehicle registration, then ransacks the house searching for drugs.
Next time, Daniel better call Mike.
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