Better Call Saul S3E1 “Mabel”

*Spoilers Ahead*

They say patience is a virtue and that has never been more perfectly displayed in a character than in Mike Ehrmantraut. The majority of Mike’s half of this premiere is spent taking things apart and lying in wait. On paper, that sounds boring but in action it’s thrilling to watch him do the necessary work of tracking down the person who stopped him from killing Hector back in “Klick.”

Patience isn’t reserved only for Mike, however, all of the primary characters get to display their own form of it in one way or another. Whether it’s Chuck waiting for the right moment to enact whatever plan he has with the tape of his brother’s confession or Jimmy waiting for Kim to finish her Mesa Verde filing.

Kim knows how she got the Mesa Verde account, at least to some degree and that knowledge puts pressure on her to make sure that everything is perfect, like Mike stripping apart his car, she examines every detail but still can’t decide between a semicolon or a period. Jimmy’s role in this anxiety may be lost on him, although that final look back at her office as he reopens the paint can suggests he might suspect it but the audience understands exactly how culpable Jimmy is. He swindled his brother out of Mesa Verde as an act of affection for Kim and revenge against him and HHM but those actions still cast a long shadow.

On Better Call Saul, perhaps even more than it’s predecessor, the past haunts everything. In the black and white present day, Jimmy, now Gene, gives up the hiding spot of a shoplifter in fear of the police. In the past, Jimmy attempts to connect with Chuck by exploring their distant memories as children but the recent past hangs over them. We even get the return of the man who let Jimmy onto the Air Force base that he filmed part of his commercial on.

The man confronts Jimmy on his actions and threatens legal action but Jimmy eventually pushes back, showing some of that Saul Goodman flair as he explains that his superiors wouldn’t take kindly to finding out how easily duped he was. Jimmy yells at him but he’s really yelling at Chuck, at Howard and at everyone who’s ever taken him down.

There is another undercurrent though, one that directly ties our current Jimmy with his future as Gene, “the wheel’s gonna turn, it always does.” That’s what the solider says to him before leaving and it’s the warning that Jimmy is never going to heed. Jimmy has a date in the future with a former chemistry teacher, sure but even further along he’s gonna become that man in the Cinnabon, shouting at shoplifters to get a lawyer and not throw away their lives.

The knowledge of Jimmy’s future creates an initial tension in every episode but in true Gilligan fashion that tension quickly rattles upwards. Chuck has a plan to trap his brother and Mike successfully tracks the person who has been keeping tabs on him, both of these things will lead into new, more dangerous, areas for our two main protagonists ones that will lead them both on the path to their inevitable futures.

Bits ‘n Pieces

  • I’m just so happy to have this series back and nothing made the happiness clearer than the scene of Mike taking apart his car, it’s a classic Vince Gilligan technique at this point but I still love it.
  • Is it just me or did it seem like Chuck knew exactly what he was doing when he “accidentally” played that tape to Ernesto?
  • Also, at the end of our yearly flash forward to the Cinnabon, Gene collapses, so maybe we’ll check in with it a bit more this year.
  • “look what Top Gun did for you.” – Jimmy always has a pop culture reference at the ready.

Jesse Swanson is a would-be writer, podcaster and funny guy who covers TV shows of all shapes and sizes. You can find him on Twitter @JesseSwanson