Better Call Saul Episode 1.10 “Marco”
Directed by Peter Gould
Written by Peter Gould
Starring Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Michael McKean, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian, Kerry Condon AMC
Air Date: Monday, April 6, 2015, 10pm
It’s been 10 episodes of Better Call Saul and all season long, we’ve been wondering how Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) went from Slippin’ Jimmy the con man to Jimmy McGill, Esq., graduate of online law school University of American Samoa, to criminal lawyer Saul Goodman on AMC’s Breaking Bad. In tonight’s season finale, Episode 1.10 “Marco,” all the details have been revealed and all the dots have been connected.
More so than ever, we see that Jimmy is a criminal at heart — but it’s a good heart. If you think of Mike Ehrmantraut’s (Jonathan Banks) speech in Episode 1.9 after the drug deal about “good criminals and bad cops, bad priests and honorable thieves,” we see the analogy to Jimmy. This is a man who’s smart and quick on his feet; people like him and are drawn to him; he’s a good talker; he can convince people to do things — but what to do with those powers? According to Jimmy’s brother Chuck (Michael McKean), Slippin’ Jimmy with a law degree is dangerous. And he’s right, a Slippin’ Jimmy who knows the law is someone to watch out for.
But, what Chuck doesn’t realize is that his younger brother really did change his life around when those charges back in Illinois were dropped and he made the decision to move to Albuquerque, NM, to work in the mailroom at Chuck’s law firm, Hamlin, Hamlin, and McGill. The fact that Jimmy went back to school and then even passed the bar to become a lawyer should have showed Chuck how serious his brother was about NOT continuing to be Slippin’ Jimmy. But, it’s a decade later, and Chuck still can’t see it — even after Jimmy has spent the last year taking care of the ailing Chuck, who needs his food and supplies delivered to him on a daily basis, showing that he has a good heart. In the end, when Jimmy has the opportunity to work at HMM as a lawyer, Chuck furiously declares to him, “You’re Slippin’ Jimmy!”
We know that while Jimmy does have that swindler tendency in him, but he’s spent many years building a new life for himself, letting his conscience guide him most of the time. It’s only out of desperation that we’ve seen him “slipping” back, but eventually, he always rights himself. We see in him what his dear friend Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) sees in him — a smart, capable, good-at-heart man who’s trying, always trying, and who deserves a chance.
What Jimmy didn’t know is that Chuck has been working against him all this time. To Chuck, it was OK for Slippin’ Jimmy to work in the mailroom at HHM, but that’s where he should have stayed. In this season one finale, we see the fallout of this revelation. At first it seems that Jimmy will just go back to the elder law he’s so good at — the elderly do love him — but too many B’s popping up at the latest BINGO game at the old age home was enough to send him over the deep end. And that’s when we learn about his time in Cicero, IL — lots of details in that story he tells, so much so that the second time around I caught a bunch of things that went by me the first time.
Not surprisingly, after Chuck’s devastating declaration, Jimmy heads back to Illinois to find his old friend and partner in con, Marco, who we’ve seen before in flashbacks. Here, we learn much more about their friendship. Looks like Marco has had a reputable job lately, but as soon as he sees his old pal, he wants the “one last con,” but like every “one last con,” it comes with regret. The outcome of this week-long con binge is enough to put Jimmy firmly on the road to becoming Saul Goodman, but not in the way we’d expect.
As with a lot of dramas on television today, the penultimate episode of the season seems to be the one with the most revelations and shocks and is more a finale then the actual finale. Matter of fact, the season 1 finale of Better Call Saul was more like an Epilogue to the previous episode. Instead of having Jimmy flip everyone the bird in Episode 9, tonight’s Episode 10 seeks to give us some closure.
Season 1 has been a mixed bag as far as style goes; the first episodes made it seem like we were going to see Saul Goodman Light show, with Jimmy running mini-scams while facing drug dealers and other underworldly characters. Basically, a mini-Breaking Bad. But then it slide into a story about redemption as Jimmy seeks to change his life and win his brother’s approval, as he takes care of his ill older brother. While he struggled to grow his business, we saw Jimmy make an honest living and when he got into elder law, not only did he NOT swindle this extremely easily conned clients, but he ends up protecting them by digging deep (real deep – like dumpster-diving deep) to uncover a scam run by the nursing home. Then there was the episode centered solely on Mike and his back story, which, while it was a powerful installment, seemed out of place in this first season. I can only imagine that knowing Mike’s history will serve its purpose in Season 2. Then there was the betrayal, which lead to the slip back into Slippin’ Jimmy territory, which possibly will bring us back to Saul Goodman Light for the following season.
I’ve always loved Bob Odenkirk and his turn on Breaking Bad as lawyer Saul Goodman is part of what elevated that series as much as it did. To see him in his own show now has been pure joy. I could watch him talk about just about anything, as long as he’s talking. I want to punch anyone who comes up against him, anyone who makes him feel bad, anyone who gets in his way — and this is with knowing his Slippin’ Jimmy past! That all comes from the superb Bob Odenkirk.
Each week, Better Call Saul kept us on our toes not only about the underlying plot of the show, but what type of series it would be. I think it’s safe to say that viewers wanted Jimmy to succeed and come out ahead and continue to spew legalese and quote movies, and hopefully, that’s exactly what we’ll get come Season 2.