“Happy Monday” is seldom said unironically, but I for one am looking forward to tonight’s season 2 premiere of my favorite new show of last season, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s Breaking Bad prequel/spinoff Better Call Saul.
What’s interesting about this show, which follows luckless attorney Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) on a journey that Breaking Bad fans know will eventually bring him into an office with a giant U.S. Constitution on the wall, a “Saul Goodman, Esq.” nameplate on the desk, and casual suggestions of murdering witnesses bandied about in the air, is that it somehow manages to be surprising even as we all know where it’s headed.
The revelation at the end of season 1 (spoilers follow – catch up on Netflix!) that Jimmy’s brother Chuck was the one standing in the way of his increasingly promising career – the product of both hard work and natural talent – was heartbreaking, totally shocking, and more than explained Jimmy’s imminent turn to the dark side. If this show has any real problems, it’s that Jimmy is too sympathetic; Saul was a fun character on Breaking Bad, but his total lack of scruples or morality doesn’t quite square with the likable, hardworking, hard-luck Jimmy we’ve seen up to now, even with Chuck’s betrayal. It seems like things are going to have to get a whole lot darker still.
So how exactly does that happen? We have a few questions for season 2 that might point the way.
1. Will Jimmy and Kim get together?
Jimmy is obviously carrying a torch for his colleague Kim, but it’s unclear whether she reciprocates. She obviously likes him, but it’s not as obvious if she likes him-likes him. She seems to be warming to him, and it’s not outrageous to imagine them hooking up, but at the same time, we know that the Saul of Breaking Bad does not have a significant other, which suggests that if they do pair off, it’s not going to work out long-term, which could be as big a factor in Jimmy’s transformation as his broken relationship with Chuck.
2. Will Jimmy take the cushy partner-track gig at the bigger firm?
His hard work on the Sandpiper case may not have been enough to salvage his brother’s opinion of him, but the partners at Chuck’s firm HHM were impressed, as was the larger firm that took the case when its scope proved too big for HHM. They offered Jimmy a job at the end of season 1 and it looked like he was inclined to refuse, but it’s hard to imagine that Kim won’t talk him into it. Assuming she does, that victory will once again be tempered by our knowledge of impending heartbreak, as Saul Goodman is not a partner at a huge prestigious law firm.
3. Will Mr. Price be back?
The Walter White doppelganger that turned up at the end of last season when Mike agreed to act as bodyguard on his first drug deal showed that Mike’s world-weary approach to dealing with Mr. White was borne of experience. Will Mr. Price need a lawyer? Or will Jimmy encounter another analogous character who will help smooth his way to becoming a CRIMINAL lawyer?
4. Will there be more Breaking Bad cameos?
Last season kicked off with a great Albuquerque Easter Egg, as Walt and Jesse’s Tuco turned up at the end of the pilot. Who else might turn up this season? Seems unlikely that we’d see Walt, and Jesse is particularly unfeasible given that this is a prequel and Jesse would have been about 14 during these events. But what about Hank, or his partner Steve Gomez? Or how about Marie? Her shoplifting problem is something that might require the services of an attorney. Gus Fring is going to come into both Mike’s and Jimmy’s lives at some point – will it be this season?
5. When will we meet Saul Goodman?
This is really the big question of the whole show. We know it’s going to happen, we just don’t know exactly how or when. And whatever his disappointments, Jimmy McGill has still got a long way to go before he’s dressing like Craig Sager, driving a Cadillac, and suggesting permanent solutions to temporary problems. My guess is that his name doesn’t change until the season finale at the soonest, and the season up to there will be all about answering all of the above questions. But then, this show is all about zagging when we think it’s gonna zig and still arriving at the destination, so my plan is to just enjoy the ride.