Apr 072015
Better Call Saul, Marco, the Bingo Balloons

Photo Credit:Ursula Coyote/AMC

Dali Lama’ s got nothing on me.

The season finale of Better Call Saul, Marco, was a strange animal. In the midst of an episode in which Slippin’ Jimmy has what shall forevermore be known as “the Bingo Breakdown,” and where a beloved old friend dies partway through, in all of this, I found the episode curiously light.

Perhaps because the cons are fundamentally lightweight, and the montage seems almost to acknowledge that. Marco and Jimmy, con artists who talk and talk and talk. The camera trickery and overlap could not disguise the sense that even the director was sick of hearing their routines at some point. The problem was that it didn’t add up to all that much.

And I do get it. Jimmy showed up in Cicero with a freshly-minted check for twenty thousand dollars—he wasn’t hustling because he needed the money. He was hustling, I think, mostly from self-hatred: If Chuck thinks I can’t change, well then fuck it, I won’t try. Maybe I was supposed to feel the joy of the hustle in there, the happiest week of Marco’s sad life, but all I saw was how sad they all were, that a buddy was pricing Marco’s ring at the guy’s funeral. That the cons were sad. That the girls who thought Jimmy was Kevin Costner were pathetic.

At the end of the episode, Jimmy drives off with a supposedly renewed faith in himself, in his happy criminal nature, and in his willingness to be slightly less than honest. He’s humming Smoke on the Water. He’s wearing Marco’s ring. Are we supposed to feel this is a victory? Are we supposed to forget that Marco had no life at all, asleep on a bar on a Wednesday afternoon? That Jimmy is left with the belief that he is basically worthless?

New Mexico. You know, like Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner.

Good for him, really, for rejecting his enslavement to Chuck. Chuck’s illness may be madness, but it’s also incredibly controlling, giving him the power to order anyone to do anything, no matter how petty, while pretending he’s a totally good guy. Soy milk. Fuji apples. There’s a whole lot of Machiavelli in that shit. Good for Jimmy for realizing he has to live his own life, his own way.

But there’s no real celebration in living life based on a fundamental conviction that you’re no good, and that’s sure what it felt like. That’s sure how he reacted to Kim telling him about the job possibility.

I’m not sure how I feel about the sudden redemption of Howard. I think the guy is still a dick. I mean, Hamlindigo? Still, he’s a slightly more nuanced dick.

Oh, and we have a bit more of a timeline, now. Jimmy has been in New Mexico for ten years, according to Marco, so that means 1992 for the Cicero flashbacks.

I’m definitely on board with the show, and I’m definitely back for Season 2, but I can’t help feeling like this wistful, gloomy season finale was not what I had hoped for.


  14 Responses to “Better Call Saul 1.10: Marco (Season Finale)”

  1. I had a similar reaction to the ending. I wasn’t sure if I had misunderstood what happened, or Jimmy had. He went back to try Living The Unlived Life (it’s been on my mind since Sunday night 🙂 ) and decided it was for him. But the unlived life was pathetic. Marco had a miserable life, scraping for nothing, ending up dead in an alley. Is Jimmy embracing that supposed to be ironic? I’m still not sure.

  2. Let’s forgive this last episode….because last week’s was so fantastic….who cares….but I agree with ya, not a great finale…last week’s was the finale for me….it was total perfection….brilliant. We hate Chuck.

  3. Agreed – this “finale” was a fizzle. The bingo-breakdown was too long, too much – though interesting that the old folks still asked for him.

    (my) Sonny said, about Hamlin, “maybe he’s OK”, to which I replied “He still LOOKS like a prick.”

    Not to worry, I’m quite sure Gilligan will ramp it up in Series 2.

    • He LOOKS like a prick.
      jahnghalt you are…….. there are no words.
      Thank you.

  4. I love this show. Granted, it has been slow going in this first season, but when I get impatient, I remind myself that it’s being brought to us by many of the same team members who brought us the Breaking Bad episode, “Face Off,” and many other TV moments that left viewers equally gobsmacked.

    About the only issue, aside from pace, that I have with the series, is the lack of a problem that’s motivating Jimmy’s choices and actions. In Breaking Bad, Walt had terminal lung cancer and a surviving family to provide for. With Jimmy, the drama doesn’t bound over that high bar. Yes, being judged and humiliated by Chuck, is certainly painful and angst worthy, but I’m afraid it’s just not enough to drive Jimmy to become Saul – and all that comes in that nasty package. Still, I have no doubt that the creators and writers of the show will rectify this splendidly in the seasons ahead, and I can hardly wait for that ride to commence!

  5. In the brilliant bingo scene, seeing Jimmy using that Gene Rayburn/Match Game (Sony ECM-51) microphone, I half expected him to make a reference to Dumb Dora or Old Man Perriwinkle!

  6. The Bingo Breakdown was an Odenkirk tour de force – the multiple reaction shots from the seniors were priceless. It’s excruciatingly difficult to keep the pace and timing up for such a long scene and I think the actors, writers (Peter Gould), editors and director (Peter Gould again) did it wonderfully.

    Agreed on the pfffffffft-ness of the ending. I’m not sure the narrative of the episode fully supports Jimmy’s actions. It’s one thing if the job offer in Santa Fe came as a result of Chuck pulling strings or was a byproduct of Chuck’s ambivalence.

    But the offer sprouted completely from Jimmy’s own work and his success in bringing the case forward. Even a debauched week with Marco as Slippin’ Jimmy shouldn’t be cause for blowing everything up.

    “There’s a whole lot of Machiavelli in that shit.” – line of the season

  7. What leaves me dumbfounded is w
    hy? WHY? does Jimmy not see or care to acknowledge what Kim means to him.
    She got him an interview for a PARTNER TRACK position at a big firm.
    That girl loves him. If he, or she, declares their undying….ahhhh, devotion, would Jimmy have a legit roadblock to the pit that is Saul?
    Chuck’s esteem he will never get. Why doesn’t he strive for Kim ‘ s validation, affirmation, etc…?
    Was, she written as a light character so she could not be a formidable presence in his life?
    How many people would do what she did, for him?
    Of the opposite sex????
    Boo, on Gilligan and company.

  8. S2E1 title: Polo ?

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