Throughout the Better Call Saul season 3 premiere, we saw Jimmy McGill in the midst of his greatest identity crisis. In the past, he was still clinging on to some shred of humanity. Maybe it was for Kim Wexler. Maybe it was for his brother Chuck, even if his brother Chuck didn’t deserve it. Maybe it was for his upbringing or the education in law he did receive.
No matter what the reasoning was, Jimmy is still clinging to something. In the future, Gene is clinging to mandates, his new life and the orders that he has to stay on the straight and narrow. He goes about his days at Cinnabon, eats his lunch, but on the day of the premiere, things were different. He ratted out a young shoplifter to the police, at least before proclaiming to him to get a lawyer. He punished him, but the inner Saul Goodman still came out, making it clear that he may face a punishment … but there could be a way to lessen it. He wasn’t going to get off scot-free.
Saul Goodman is both Jimmy’s greatest blessing and also his greatest curse. He’s probably his most true self in that form. When Gene collapses back at Cinnabon at the end of the opening, he is almost signaling that he has expended too much emotional energy in that one moment as Saul in order to function as Gene anymore. He just can’t anymore.
Back in the present, Jimmy is still intent on not letting Saul out of his cage. You see that in his continued interactions with Kim Wexler, who is still clinging to what she can identify with in the form of mesa verde (a case she may understand she got via unethical-at-best means), just as you see that in his insistence to not be terrible to Chuck — who clearly wants to be terrible to him. He tried to get Howard roped in on the tapes that he has of Jimmy from the finale. Howard insists that these may not be anywhere near as effective as he thinks, but he still wants to run with them. He still wants to ensure that he has this edge. When Chuck is on the warpath against his brother, his disease heals and he’s an elevated person. This is his juice.
For Jimmy, it’s his dismay. Over the course of season 3, he will have to reconcile the feelings for his brother with the reality of what said brother wants to do to him.
Mike moves along
In the aftermath of the note “don’t,” Mike wants to uncover its origins. That’s why most of this story was about the slow build, the gathering of the materials, and the journey to pinpoint the origins of the warning and the looming operation. He’s searching for Gus Fring, but he does not know it just yet.
Mike’s a man who started his professional life with a sense of moral drive and understanding — part of the morality may be gone, but the curiosity and the thirst for knowledge remains. He knows that this is also a thirst for survival, and at the end of his auto-part trail is likely to be a reward. He just cannot connect the dots between the temporary reward and his own death.
What does it mean to be right or wrong? Is Gene the hero for turning in the kid or the villain for shouting obnoxious legal advice? Through the brilliant season 3 premiere, Better Call Saul reminds us that right and wrong are subjective, and finding a way to get by is the top priority. In every timeline, Jimmy is barely afloat, and whether it is consciously or unconsciously, the other characters are struggling in their own ways. Grade: A-.
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