Better Call Saul 1.02: Mijo

 Posted by on February 11, 2015 at 10:28 am  Better Call Saul
Feb 112015
Better Call Saul, Mijo, Tuco, Saul, and the redheads

Better Call Saul‘s second episode, Mijo, proved one of two things: That this show might take a while to find its legs, or that a two-hour premiere was overkill. Or both.

You got a mouth on you.

There was some great stuff in this episode. I want to call out the “It’s Showtime” montage, which was actually an effective homage to All That Jazz, did a great job of conveying Jimmy/Saul’s life as a public defender, and was rather expertly filmed. And you know, I agreed with Jimmy when he told the redheads that he was a great lawyer; he saved their lives. They are, to be sure, total assholes. I begin to doubt that these two could be effective scammers. They are too quick to insult, too quick to demand. The smart con artists (as I’ve learned from the movies) let the victim come up with the ideas.

On the other hand, too much of the dialogue went on for too long. Jimmy’s endless patter is going to wear thin if it’s not broken up more effectively. The entire show could bog down into negotiation and persuasion in scene after scene. This stuff was very effective in breaking up the violence and action of Breaking Bad, but on its own, the imbalance is going to drive the audience away. It’s pretty clear Better Call Saul is still establishing itself—we don’t have Mike on board yet, for one thing—but we need these other characters in play with more strength before the show is really going to work.

There’s also the fact that we know some of their fates. Tuco is both less frightening and more predictable in his crazy, because we’ve already seen where he ends up. New characters need more room to grow alongside the familiar ones.

This episode, we learned more about Chuck’s “disorder,” but we’re still baffled. We’ve also yet to learn anything significant about Chuck, Jimmy, and their past with HHM. On the one hand, it’s a meaty area to explore and could be a lot of fun. On the other hand, Michael McKean wrapped in a space blanket is just not doing it for me.

We also have the beginnings of Jimmy committing to a life of crime; a lawyer who works as a compatriot to the criminals of the world, rather than maintaining a wall. This could be a lot of fun, if it’s capers and schemes and so on, but we’ll see.

Sorry to be a downer, Basketcases. I am hoping this show picks up, and I’m certainly going to continue recapping. What did you all think?


  22 Responses to “Better Call Saul 1.02: Mijo”

  1. As it took me a few episodes to warm up to Breaking Bad, I really didn’t expect Better Call Saul to hit the ground running.

    The All That Jazz montage was a highlight of what I found to be a solid entry. And, stylistically, I kinda liked the creatively abrupt opening credits and closings used in the first two episodes.

    To be sure, Jimmy’s negotiation with Tuco in the desert on behalf of the twins went on too long and felt strained. That said, it introduced us to Nacho who may very well be the show’s new break out character. The payoff with Nacho at the end which explains WHY he was so merciful to Jimmy in the desert (something I griped about at the time) was pure Vince Gilligan storytelling at it’s best (a definite “AHA” moment).

    FWIW, my wife and teenager LOVED seeing Tuco again and laughed in all the right places. So, there’s that.

  2. Well, I for one — loved it….and so did all my Breaking Bad buddies….I just finally finally finally watched all of Breaking Bad….and was so ready for Saul, and he did not disappoint….what a loser…what a cast….great music, photography, script, very very good. please give me more “Mike” in episode three…please please please. He is my favorite hit man of all time….sort of. My list is long.

    I’ve worked for lawyers a lot more creepy and crooked than Saul…so of course I love him and the show…fabulous…watch it folks.

    • I’m looking forward to more Mike, too. What’s he doing working the parking gate at the courthouse, anyway? Was he in the middle of some kind of dry spell then (Does the hit man business have dry spells?), or is he setting somebody up? I’m sure it’ll be an interesting story.

      • maybe Mike is setting up a “hit” that he has been contracted to do, and working at the parking lot is his cover? Come on Mike, kill somebody for us… do it with such grace.

      • All we know about Mike is that he is a former Philly cop who was fired for some kind of misbehavior and ended up in Albuquerque. We don’t know that, at the time of Better Call Saul, he is already a contract killer.

        • Have they said exactly or approximately what year the show is taking place? Is anyone skilled at identifying the background details (the year of the cars, what kind of cellphones are being used) that might let us know?

          In any case, at the time we first met Mike on Breaking Bad he was clearly a professional criminal, something he took pride in, He was unimpressed with Walt and Jesse’s amateur operation, but he liked Jesse enough that he tried to teach him to behave like a professional. He had rules and a code of conduct, which I have to believe he learned over many years of hard experience. I’d be surprised if we don’t discover that the parking gate job is just a cover, or a temporary stopgap that Mike had to take when he couldn’t get money the way he usually does.

          • I think it’s supposed to be 2002.

            • It’s six years before Saul becomes Walter White’s lawyer, according to the AMC website. Since Breaking Bad premiered in 2008 and only covered 2 years in its 5 year run, 2002 sounds exactly right.

          • I stopped scanning for clues as to the date during the trial of the trio who decapitated/violated a body. The timestamp on the video evidence the prosecutor played for the jury was dated 2001. Which, allowing for crowded court schedules, puts it in 2002 territory.

    • Mike getting shot in BB was a big bummer for me. “Hitman” was only part of Mike’s duties for Fring (and Saul). His first appearance was coaching Jessie about his story for the police after Jessie woke up next to dead girlfriend/blackmailer. As “director for security” he was a competent lieutenant to Fring.

      • Thinking again, did Mike ever have any interaction with Saul? Saul’s guys were Huell and skinny white dude.

        • Saul said that Mike was his detective; Mike’s threatening him was like Magnum turning on (Higgins).

        • It was Saul who sent Mike to spy on Skyler and find out what she knew. We originally met Mike as Saul’s guy; at first, Saul didn’t even know that Mike worked for Fring.

          • Per the version I’ve heard (on DVD, I think), when Jesse’s girlfriend Jane dies, Saul was going to be the one to “clean up” the scene. However, Bob Odenkirk was unavailable for the day the scene was shot. So, the writers created Mike’s character to fill in. Kismet.

  3. I for one love Saul’s endless patter.
    Breaking Bad was boom, boom, pow, show. Not exactly, subtle, but it was brilliant.
    Saul WILL ride on Odenkirk. Not sure, if he’s a virtuoso, but Saul is when he’s running his mouth.
    Nacho looks like a keeper.
    But he wasn’t around for Walter White time.
    So, I’m sad about his fate.

  4. I really enjoyed the premiere episode and the one on Monday night. As I understand it, the series is designed to work for viewers who haven’t seen Breaking Bad, as well as those who have. Either way, there’s plenty of room on the creative playing field for Better Call Saul to shine. I’m not sure whether those of us who’ve seen Breaking Bad have an advantage or not. We’re viewing things through the prism of established characters and events, so we’re inclined to watch with an expectation of discovering what happened in the past to bring about these things we’re already familiar with. I’m guessing that a pretty high percentage of BCS viewers already know and love BB. As one of those folks, I can’t unsee or unknow that which is already seen and known, so I can’t experience BCS as a non-virgin viewer, BB-wise. I’d be interested in hearing what BB virgin viewers will make of BCS.

    • Oops! I really must proof my comments.

      What I meant was: “As one of those folks, I can’t unsee or unknow that which is already seen and known, so I’m experiencing BCS as a non-virgin viewer, BB-wise. I’d be interested in hearing what BB virgin viewers will make of BCS.”

  5. Speaking as a contract public defender (not a salaried employee), I can attest that the courtroom and public defender scenes and montage are absolutely spot on. The cart with the big CRT and videotape machine were standard in courtrooms until the price of flat screens and DVD players finally came down.

    Any steady tv viewer can’t help but wonder why the villains always stand around talking to their prospective victims instead of just going ahead and shooting them. But I love Bob Odenkirk and I’m just so impressed with his acting chops.

    Check out Itunes for the Better Call Saul Insider podcasts with Vince Gilligan, Kelley Dixon, and various cast, writers and production staff,

  6. I loved the show so far. I’ll admit the first episode was a bit slow, but it was purposefully slow.
    I disagree with you Deborah (which almost never happens) and unlike the twin skateboarders,
    I think this show does have legs to stand on (ouch)
    And there was Tuco.(yay)
    And Vic the Dick from Orphan Black (Nacho) – whom I just looked up to see are played by Michael Mando

    because of its pedigree I am going to give Jimmy the time to turn into Saul and tell whatever kind of story he wants to tell me.
    He hasn’t disappointed me yet.

  7. As I said in the other thread, I’m hoping it develops its own identity. I grin at Tuco and Breaking Bad borrowing, but I wasn’t a big enough BB fan to keep watching a spinoff that isn’t much more than every joke and a kitsch-form from it. It’s cheap, and there is plenty of cheap on TV. I have to say that I wish it also had a different visual and technical feel than BB. I’d like it to stand on its own in a lot of ways. I think it needs time to get anywhere like that, but I can’t wait as far out as season 2 for that to happen. I’m delusional, because we all know none of this is going to happen.

    • If it seemed to be taking place in a different universe than Breaking Bad, I’m not sure it would have worked. Thus, even the artificially orange desert (it’s apparently light tan pre-production).

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