You see? This is why people hate lawyers.
Double dealing! Excessive use of pay phones! Really bad wigs! Episode 3 of Better Call Saul, Nacho, had it all.
So, Vince Gilligan is having fun with timelines. Our “present day” for the series is 2002, but we’re getting flashbacks to really oversized mobile phones and a big poofy wig for Michael McKean, and we’re told that the series will also flash forward to the post-Breaking Bad present. Now, the downside of a master plan like this, where the showrunner knows the whole timeline, the before and after, is that the show can sometimes feel strained trying to get to its designated event at a designated point. Certainly, we’ve seen episodes of The Walking Dead that have dragged painfully because such-and-such was intended to happen in the season finale, whereas the natural flow of the script really needed it to be sooner. Equally, people have objected to the way Matthew Weiner sometimes writes Mad Men backwards from the intended season finale; it can be too much of a chess game.
No chess game in the current episode of Better Call Saul, though. Nacho plays a little like poker and a lot like speed tag, with Robot Sex Voice thrown in. It was really fun, and I laughed out loud, but it was also intriguing. Mike Ehrmantraut is now playing a significant role, and I feel vindicated in my guess that no, he is not already some big badass, he really is what he seems to be—a retired cop with a shit job. A retired cop who sees something in Jimmy, something smart if annoying, and who has planted seeds for future connections without being too ridiculously “let’s team up” too quickly. Well played.
I’m no hero.
The thing that I’m getting about Jimmy is he does have a moral code. He is trying to walk a tightrope. He’s done bad things both named and unnamed—he’s Slipping Jimmy (named), and he’s in jail and in big trouble sometime in the 1990s (unnamed). But he also doesn’t want the Kettlemans killed. At first I couldn’t understand why he was calling Kim at 2 am—was he pumping her for information to give to Nacho? But he was trying to protect people, to make sure no one got hurt, and as ridiculous and over the top as his behavior was, there’s a sweetness to that.
So, Jimmy is a guy who always has a scheme, always has an angle, always has a song and dance. Even if he wants to help someone, he’s going to do it in a schemey, dancey, Slipping way. It’s showtime!
IMDb seems to indicate that Michael Mando as Nacho Varga is going to be in every episode this season of Better Call Saul, and I applaud that. He’s handsome and kind of compelling. His face draws you in and repels you at the same time. Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler is also a series regular. Right now she’s a cypher, in that Elisabeth Röhm mold. Other people like those cool, unreadable blondes better than I do, but I’m happy to wait and see on this one. Because Robot Sex Voice.
Weigh in Basketcases! Did you get John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt stuck in your head by the Kettlemans, or was that just me?