Better Call Saul “Amarillo” Analysis (S2E03)

Yeah I was definitely thinking Gus throughout that ending. Between the “Cautious guy, aren’t you?” and the silhouette teasing, Gus pretty much was in that scene until they reveal he wasn’t. I’m glad it wasn’t him though for reasons everybody said, but I was also relieved because Nacho (or Ignacio) and the cartel has been hinted to play a very important role in this series and it’s better to build on that. I keep trying to watch without the BB goggles because I always assume it must be weird for people to watch this show first and see a show about Jimmy, his brother Chuck, his colleague Kim, and….the toll booth guy. Even in Breaking Bad, a character like Mike was introduced as a wink that stayed behind the curtain. For most of season 3, his character is shown but he’s ominous and he doesn’t even truly reveal himself until those last 2 episodes, Here though he’s been put at the forefront and other than being a familiar face for 90% of the audience who have experienced him in full grace, I keep asking why?

For one, this isn’t BB. Walt’s story of climbing into the world of criminality is different from Jimmy’s and because of that, it’s going to present itself differently. I really wish I can experience the show blind but from what I can appreciate, the wise well-meaning ‘tough but fair’ toll booth guy who helped Jimmy out of the Nacho situation with the Kettlemans in season one episode 3, is the same guy who is eventually going to pull Jimmy back into the Nacho conflict. From a storytelling standpoint, there’s something devastating about that. Other than us wanting Jimmy to do good and the notion that Jimmy is destined for this road through as Chuck would say “being who he truly is”, the last thing we need is Mike calling on Jimmy for favors. The cliffhanger of seeing Nacho shouldn’t just make us go “oh who’s Mike going to have to kill?” but after the whole squat cobbler dance, it’s also “shit, Jimmy’s going to get mixed up with this guy again”. Things are getting hot.

And man, what a payoff with Cliff. I think what made that angry phone call more anxiety-ridden was that he was presented last week (seemingly through Jimmy’s eyes) as a loose, guitar-plucking, turn-over that can be taken advantage of. Jimmy flipped his switch thinking nothing would happen, but wow. I didn’t know how to feel about his character last week. He came off like there was going to be some budding relationship between the two, like the brother Jimmy never had, and perhaps Jimmy might corrupt him or something since he’s so easy-going but man, what a turn. This will be a lot more fun. Ed Begley Jr. is going to be great.

I loved the commercial stuff, not just as sort of an origin story behind the eccentric Saul commercials that will come to be, but I just love that this lawyer show tackled those incredibly boring law firm commercials that run throughout the day. I also liked that they brought those film students back (glasses guy referred to as Kid Kubrick on the dvd commentary). What I found so funny is I think Jimmy McGill is the first character in television to ever call out the snobby “that’s going to cost you extra” camera guy character. Usually that stereotype always gets the better of the protagonist but Jimmy’s well-delivered “Does anyone like you?” was so rewarding.

Other than that, I enjoyed Chuck putting Jimmy in his place in the beginning. Chuck’s presence adds so much tension and is an added challenge to a character that on his own would be invincible with a fully functioning law firm at his disposal. I’m really glad Kim put her role in vouching for Jimmy into perspective for him too. As for Mike’s story with Stacey, there’s something up about that. We see that nothing came from Mike’s little stake-out in terms of the supposed gunshots, but perhaps that “bullet mark” was there previously when gunfire actually did go off and was only noticed now? Or is Stacey just playing Mike? It’s never really answered, but it’s got me interested.

Oh and yeah the pig toy I recognized right away and it was cool how they used it in the shot when the veterinarian calls about some “next level work”.

By the way, I was going to mention this last week, but I notice we’re getting the same title sequences as last season except now midway it cuts into black and white for a good few seconds. Are Gene’s VHS tapes aging/has a bad hookup? It’s definitely a recurring thing. I wonder if it’s alluding to eventually seeing more of Gene in the present or something.

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