[Review] - Better Call Saul, Season 1 Episode 4, "Hero"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
If Breaking Bad was a metaphor for anything, it might have been that environment and circumstance determine personality. It was very much a "nurture" argumentative narrative, with Walter's situation directly influencing his behaviour. An argument could be made that no one would go as dark as fast as he did without having it in them to begin with, but it was the continuing circumstances of his environment that precipitated and necessitated his descent.

The counter argument, the "nature" side of things, seems to be the metaphorical thesis behind Saul. No matter what Jimmy does, no matter his intent or ambition, he cannot help but revert back to his Slippin' Jimmy ways. He might be more stylish at it, might look better doing it, and might be conning for a bigger pot of gold, and he might even be fooling himself into thinking that doing a bad thing for the right reasons makes it a good thing, he's still a con man working an angle.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that will round-house kick you, man.

Because a considerable amount of Saul's life was left unexplored during his time on Breaking Bad, it allows this series much greater leeway with what they can show. Chuck and Kim are excellent examples of how little we know of Jimmy's life away from Walter's business. However, it is also safe to assume that it is their guiding influences that keep Jimmy on the relative straight and narrow. And that the removal of those influences is what will spur his decision to embrace the - if not dark - than less honest side of the street. This episode made a big deal of how desperate Jimmy is to be taken seriously, to not appear as the sort of person that "guilty people hire." The journey that takes him from that mind set, to being a willing and proud criminal lawyer is one that, I feel, can only be taken in the wake of tragedy.

I said last week that Jimmy's relationship with Chuck was one I was greatly looking forward to developing, and I'll add Kim to that list. Chuck has the benefit of the past to guide his disappointment; he knows Jimmy for what he is and what he has done. He hopes for the best, and prepares for the worst. Kim, without knowing too much about their shared history, at least seems hopeful for his future. Her sly smile reveals that, despite his desperation, she takes pleasure in his antics. So, presumably, we have the lessons of the past and the promise of the future guiding Jimmy through the only two people in his life (the Korean nail shop owner would, of course, represent the need to hydrate).

This was the first episode that we really found out anything about Kim, and she is intriguing. there is a distance there, a desire to move closer, but a well manufactured wall she has erected to prevent herself from getting too close. Jimmy himself seems comfortable but not intent on her affection. Indeed, he treats her more like a sister, or at least views her asexually, while she has an uncomfortable affection for him. We know from Breaking Bad that Saul has various ex-wives, and yes we're only four episodes in, and they've only begun to scratch the surface of the character's past, there is nothing that indicates that Kim won't be one of those exes. In which case, her character is a ticking clock of being taken in by Jimmy's act, and eventually growing too tired of being too disappointed in him.

Chuck's condition continues to be a fascinating factor. It is clearly debilitating, but not incapable of being over come. Chuck's Jimmy alarm went off, and despite the discomfort it caused him,he was able to brave the world and it's electromagnetism in order to look out for his brother. chuck seems to be a character of sacrifice. Last week's flash back showed Chuck willing to drop everything to journey to Albuquerque in order to bail his brother out of jail. This week, he (as far as he was concerned) risked his life and well-being in order to suss out if Jimmy was getting into trouble. Jimmy is Chuck's true weakness, not his psychosis. And whatever happens that eventually sees that stabilizing influence removed form Jimmy's life, I expect it'll have more to do with Jimmy than it does cell phones.  

We also got our first look at Saul. Proto-Saul, as it were. Like so much in Jimmy's life, the character was born out of necessity, a part to play so that Jimmy can achieve what he wants in the moment. Because, Jimmy hasn't shown much propensity for thinking long term. He certainly appears to be planning things out in advance, but I feel like that is more an affectation than proof that he is a mastermind. Jimmy is a reactionary. He does a thing, and reacts to the result. If a string of results leads to him being successful, that is only a sign of his ability to manipulate a situation to his benefit, not a sign of his ability to think three steps ahead. And the thing that kept popping into my head throughout this episode, with Jimmy McGill plastered on billboards, and heralded a hero across the city, is how will the transformation occur that sees him go from one brand recognized identity to another. Because with his hero act, he won't be transitioning to Saul with anonymity on his side.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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