Better Call Saul season 2 premiere (TV review)

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler and Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill- Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Press Kit - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. A truth that Saul Goodman will ultimately discover as he slowly descends down into the depths of the New Mexico drug trade. But for now, as we revisit him in the season two premiere of Better Call Saul, he is still just Jimmy McGill, a small-time lawyer who is trying to make a name for himself. And although his intentions remain generally pure, even at this early stage, we are beginning to see the little compromises that will ultimately turn Jimmy McGill, attorney-at-law, into Saul Goodman, Walter White’s consigliere.

The second season opens with Jimmy, fresh off the realization that his older brother is the one who has been impeding his lawyerly ambitions, about to take a position at a new law firm headed by guest star Ed Begley Jr. But rather than walk the straight and narrow, Jimmy instead eschews the legitimate employment offer and instead backslides into his conman ways. Enlisting the aid of his friend/infatuation Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), he scams a narcissistic financial advisor into paying for many shots of a very expensive (and for Breaking Bad fans, very familiar) tequila.

This brief diversion into his old “Slippin’ Jimmy” ways does not take, however, as he eventually realizes that in order to actually move forward in life, he will have to act, and work, like an adult. Still, the hotel scenes showcase Jimmy at his conniving best; part braggadocio, part innocent victim – the perfect roper to pull in an unsuspecting mark. As a conman, Jimmy is comfortable and in his element. A fact that is only further reinforced as we later see him uncomfortably in his new office, tentatively ordering his assistant around without any sense of purpose or authority. This juxtaposition helps to reinforce the notion that the safe and conservative path just doesn’t fit in with Jimmy’s sense of purpose.

Little Breaking Bad Easter eggs aside, Better Call Saul has clearly begun carving out its own well-defined voice and tone in its sophomore season. Bob Odenkirk continues to shine in a role that almost seems tailor made for him at this point. And the meticulous pace at which we slowly begin to see new facets of Jimmy’s character begs for repeat viewings. About the only gripe I have with this fantastic season premiere is the lack of screen time for the criminally underutilized Jonathan Banks as resident fixer Mike Ehrmantraut, a problem that I hope will be fixed in future episodes. The few times that Banks and Odenkirk share the screen are a delight, and one can only hope that the show will find more reasons down the line to match up this pair of distinctive personalities.

Better Call Saul entered its first season bearing the weight and expectations of a fanatical fan base of one of the most beloved shows of all time. A fan base that made one simple request: “Don’t screw this up!” And having successfully converted even the most skeptical of viewers, it appears that Better Call Saul is well on its way to carving its own path away from its illustrious predecessor.

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