Better Call Saul episode 2 recap & review
As this contains a recap, obvious SPOILERS follow.
After blasting cable records away with the series premiere, “Better Call Saul” offered another hour of terrific television to follow-up that cliffhanger ending from Sunday evening’s “Uno” which found Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), the 2002-man who would be Saul Goodman, tracking his co-conspirators to Tuco Salamanca’s (guest star Raymond Cruz) house of all places. Director Michelle MacLaren (upcoming Wonder Woman) of “Game of Thrones” and “Breaking Bad” prominence helmed the second episode of Vince Gilligan’s new series. It’s comforting to know that Gilligan kept “Saul” in-house with a lot of the same BrBa collaborators reconvening to create another quality program. Instead of beginning with a black-and-white, post-“Breaking Bad” scene featuring Saul’s “Gene” as demonstrated in the last episode, “Mijo” jumps right back into the final moments of “Uno.” After Tuco’s abuela (Míriam Colón) leads the twin scammers who have teamed with Jimmy into the house, Tuco steps out from fixing some salsa to see the source of the commotion. An interesting concept reveals itself yet again here—there are viewers who haven’t seen “Breaking Bad” and subsequently, Cruz’s terrifyingly psychotic Tuco just like they haven’t met Saul Goodman/ Jimmy McGill/ Gene/ FBI Special Agent Jeffrey A. Steele yet.
Some viewers didn’t expect this kind, ancient abuelita who calls her grandson “mijo”—a Spanish term of endearment combining the words “my child”—to have an insane family member, let alone the titular “mijo.” Tuco lovingly takes his grandmother aside and selflessly asks her to go upstairs and watch her telanovela so that she won’t miss it! She behaves rather upset and rattled, but Tuco nevertheless convinces her to walk upstairs to watch TV. After carelessly throwing around lies, insults, and all other manner of crude language, the twins finally calm all the way down to the floor only after Tuco briefly canes them. Tuco wastes no time demonstrating to new viewers the vastness of his capabilities. While calling in a van to extract the bodies, a stranger pokes around and demands that the door open in the name of the law. This is the other side of the door from the final moment of “Uno.” Tuco grabs a large, powerful revolver, opens the door, and the cliffhanger from the pilot finally ends as Jimmy meets the business end of the weapon. Like Walter White, he keeps digging himself deeper in unfamiliar territory in the name of money.
The manic Tuco interrogates Jimmy at gunpoint as the grandmother interrupts Tuco yet again. She’s concerned his “salsa” stain on the carpet will stain. Jimmy finally negotiates his freedom as well as the boys’ freedom—he’s not losing so much anymore in “Mijo” as he was in “Uno.” “You got a mouth,” Tuco tells Jimmy. Tuco leads the camera into the garage where the boys struggle about the floor as they are wrapped in duct tape as he reveals a hefty, hunting knife and relinquishes it to Jimmy. The lawyer then rips the duct tape off of one of their mouths and the speaking twin immediately implicates Jimmy in the scam—mind you, they didn’t know what the target looked like and subsequently think they stalked the correct vehicle. Jimmy surrenders the knife back to Tuco.
The camera then jumps into the dry New Mexico desert. BrBa viewers have seen this setting many times—even with Tuco! The interrogation session begins all over again with Tuco holding Jimmy’s pinky finger between the jaws of wire cutters. Tuco doesn’t the complete and total truth, so Jimmy creates the charade that he is Special Agent Jeffery A. Steele, F.B.I. working undercover on Operation: Kingbreaker. The fact that Tuco registers as a “king” in the F.B.I.’s eyes is enough to send the violent gangster in a delighted mood, forgetting to maim Jimmy. However, Tuco’s second-in-command, Nacho, steps forward and interrogates Jimmy to meet his own satisfaction. Jimmy then goes back to first story of telling the truth and Nacho believes this story instead which leaves Tuco a little bummed that the F.B.I. didn’t think he was a hot shot. Nacho and Tuco agree to let Saul go unharmed as he is a lawyer and are afraid of possible repercussions of his disappearance in another win for Jimmy. On his way out, the counselor comes to understand that his moronic cohorts who ratted him out will not be spared. Tuco sentences the boys to death for insulting his abuelita earlier in the episode. Jimmy nabs yet one more victory as he explains to Tuco that he is a fair judge and manages to have Tuco punish the boys by breaking one leg on each of their bodies instead of killing them. A broken leg sounds like a bum deal, but it’s far better than the fates Tuco kept pitching. Jimmy’s following “I’m the best lawyer ever” seals the scene perfectly.
After he ditches the kids at the emergency room, Jimmy tries his best to focus while on a date, but simply cannot when he vomits in a restroom stall. The breaking of breadsticks at the bar reminded him of the boys’ all-too-recent fate in the desert. The camera then picks up as a drunk Jimmy passes out on Chuck’s couch. Chuck—paranoid of all things electronic—tosses Jimmy’s phone out on to the lawn. The following morning, Jimmy sees the emergency room bill on Chuck’s desk which leads to Chuck confronting him about it. “No more Slippin’ Jimmy,” Jimmy promised Chuck. He then leaves to pick up his phone and enjoy a day in court as a public defender. After cashing his check, he again comes across one case he can’t crack—Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), the parking attendant. Mike’s issue from “Uno” of Jimmy not having enough stamps on his parking validation comes up yet again as the lawyer is forced to return back to City Hall for more parking stamps.
Jimmy returns to his awful, little office in the back of the nail salon. One of the beauticians from the salon announces that a client is present to speak with him. The client is Nacho, and he wants in on the Kettleman scam for the entire $1.6 million. All he asks is for a little information and Jimmy will net 100 grand for a finder’s fee. Jimmy explains that he is not a criminal, but a lawyer instead which Nacho scoffs at and continues with his pitch. Nacho hands Jimmy a pack of matches with his number scribbled on the inside of it. Nacho tells Jimmy that he will be killed if anyone finds out about this conversation to which the lawyer replies that he considers Nacho a client anyway and couldn’t divulge that information legally. The camera follows Nacho all the way out of the salon and “Mijo” ends on a quiet note that shows the potential blossoming of a beautiful partnership similar to Jesse Pinkman and Walter, or even Gus Fring and Walt. Like Gus, Nacho is a man of reason. It wouldn’t have been as scary if “Uno” ended with the rational, collected Gus opening the door on Jimmy. Perhaps Nacho is Jimmy’s Gus?