Better Call Saul Review: Season 2, Episode 1 – Switch

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman in Better Call Saul Season 2

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

In its first season, Better Call Saul took everyone’s favourite light relief, lovable scumbag from one of the biggest game-changers in TV history and turned him into a conflicted, pathetic character with a more thought-provoking backstory than I ever would have anticipated.

I love the title of this episode. Not only does it more than serve its purpose of describing Jimmy McGill’s attitude throughout this instalment, it perfectly captures the character we’ve been following since the start of season 1, the constant battle between his two personas and it simplifies his most important trait into one word. From con-artist, ‘Slippin’ Jimmy’, to ‘going straight’ Jimmy McGill, to Saul Goodman, the struggle for Jimmy to decide who he really is never ends.

I have to say, the most enjoyable parts of the series for me are Jimmy’s moments of weakness, and this episode had that in spades. We were constantly being teased us into thinking we’d got to the point at which Jimmy has completely given up trying to reform and has finally become Saul for good. The highlight example of these teases has to be the sequence which saw the return of douchebag, ‘KEN WINS‘ from the first season of Breaking Bad.

Watching Jimmy convince Kim to help him pull off this scam was almost too easy for comfort. The scene is played so light-heartedly and watching them trick Ken into paying for their insanely expensive drinks all night with giddy smirks on their faces is as fun to watch as Walt and Jesse coming up with another plan to save their own lives. It’s nice to see a new side to the uptight Kim we’ve seen throughout season one of BCS. With this scene leading to Jimmy and Kim going to bed together, we have yet another piece of evidence showing that things only work out for Jimmy when he releases his inner Saul. But is he really ready to commit to that life yet?

We know he does eventually and it seems so certain that this is it for Jimmy McGill. But, as the episode title hinted, something inside him switches at the last minute. I couldn’t help but feel disheartened. He’d come so far in his transformation in this episode, it felt like he had just decided to roll over and get back to reality. I should feel happy, right? He’s doing the right thing. He’s had a taste of what it’s like to live on the edge and he’s decided he’d rather be a decent man. Maybe I would be saying that if this were any other show, but we know that’s not how Jimmy’s story is going to go. Seeing him attempt to go back to being a straight lawyer is just sad when we know he’s going to end up as the helpless, pitiful nobody that we see in the cold open of this episode. We know he’ll never really go straight, as is demonstrated in the final shot of the episode.

I love the polar opposite thought process we see between the cold open and the final scene. In the final scene we have Jimmy, in his new office, able to have whatever he wants. A new chair? A new desk? Literally anything, it seems. Yet, he has to find the one thing in the room he’s not allowed to do and do it anyway. Whereas, in the cold open, we have Saul locked in the area the bins are kept, too scared to touch the emergency exit handle, lest a policeman happens to recognise him. Our hopes are lifted when he goes for a screwdriver, perhaps to make an escape attempt, and then dashed when he does the only thing he can, leave a small mark of who he used to be.

Overall this was one of the more exciting and entertaining episodes of the whole show for me and creates a very high anticipation for the rest of the season.

Author: Richie Withers

Co-Creator, editor, writer & presenter for Film Night.

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