Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill in "Better Call Saul" Season 2 finale

‘Better Call Saul’ Season 2 Finale: Can’t Have a Conscience and Be a Tough Guy

No, there wasn’t a Saul Goodman sighting during the “Better Call Saul” Season 2 finale and after listening to creator Vince Gilligan, it’s likely the process is going to take longer than expected. In an interview conducted prior to the finale airing, Gilligan admitted that they just can’t seem to quit the Jimmy McGill character.

The show opened with a scene that gave us more insight into the family dynamic between the brothers. They sat at their mother’s bedside as she was near death, in a coma that we learned was three days long. Jimmy, practical as ever wanted some lunch and Chuck refused to budge, for fear his mother would die while they were out of the room.

Jimmy wouldn’t be cowed by guilt and of course offered to pick up something to bring back for his brother. He knew Chuck’s sandwich of choice, a roast beef with tomato, Italian dressing on the side, which the focused and exhausted Chuck refused to acknowledge.

Jimmy wasn’t gone a few minutes when Mrs. McGill awoke for moments, called Jimmy’s name, heard Chuck’s voice, said again, “Jimmy”, and promptly died.  A classic prodigal son situation, just another drop in the resentment bucket against Jimmy, who was informed when he returned with the sandwich that his mom died without ever waking or speaking.

The present day action picked up moments after the previous episode concluded, with Jimmy McGill watching the bumbling people at the copy store fail to call for help as brother Chuck lay bleeding on the floor. He burst in and took command. Chuck was bleeding from a gash to the forehead and the knocked unconscious.

He revived after about a minute, according to Ernesto whose horror at the scene about what occurred was only exceeded by his sadness at watching the brothers go at it later.  Oh yes, they went at it after the medical care Chuck needed was forced on him thanks to an emergency guardianship deemed medically necessary by the attending physician who convinced Jimmy that without it, they couldn’t release Chuck.

They needed to check the reason he collapsed, and of course, what damage might have been done to his head. Jimmy agonized and while staying relatively calm, was guilt ridden and frightened he might lose his brother. That is, until he opened his mouth and we all realized Chuck’s brain was just fine. He had to be restrained and of course went off the rails about no one making his electromagnetic sensitivity their top priority.

The camera work focused on him as he was strapped to a gurney with the flourescent lights bombarding him, then getting the CT scan was some of the most riveting, or perhaps distracting of the season. Didn’t you tilt your head a bit to try to simulate how that camera got those shots?

Ultimately Chuck checked out just fine, and despite the doctor’s insistence that he needed psychological help, Jimmy refused and decided to take him home. Chuck, of course believed it was his brother’s time to commit him somewhere and get him out-of-the-way. He was pleased to know he would be released, but not before going into a tirade about Jimmy and once again guessing correctly how he just happened to be at the scene so quickly.

Ernesto saved the day and lied to Chuck to end the sad situation, announcing that he had called Jimmy earlier in the evening because he was so worried about Chuck and Jimmy’s appearance at the copy store was a result of that. It seemed to end Chuck’s quest for the truth as he was humbled once again. Once home he saw Jimmy’s loving care and of course the dual sides to it all, he seemed to settle down.

Jimmy’s commercial aired on TV and of course it was a classic, with a look forward to the catch phrase that is the title of the show. Who are you going to trust and call if a nursing home is bleeding you dry? He saw it in the hospital waiting room alongside Kim who loved it and said as much.

Back at the office, the result of the commercial was just like the one he made for the Hamlin firm. There were a slew of elderly people in the waiting room and while the premises was an upgrade from what we saw in “Breaking Bad”, it was upbeat and sweet, but condescending way of speaking to his clients. Kim was pressed into service to get them coffee because they had yet to hire a receptionist. That had to be done yesterday, as Jimmy told her. Kim is busy with the bank’s business and happy as a clam.

Unfortunately, Jimmy had to abandon the old folks after an emergency call from Howard Hamlin who spoke with Chuck. Chuck McGill was retiring from the firm and the practice of law he said. The scene Jimmy found at the house, as is pictured in the photo posted above was an kevlar palace, necessitated by Chuck’s belief that the walls in his home no longer protected him.

Chuck accepted that he made the mistake on the bank documents and said that his brain was failing him. All he had was the law and his mind for it and Jimmy began to soften, trying to assure his brother that it was only one mistake, pushing him to reverse his decision to retire. It was like season one when Jimmy tried to nudge Chuck back to the office because the depression and resignation was threatening to take Chuck to a place he’d never leave.

Then Jimmy decided to admit the dastardly deed, explain he did it for Kim, which he believed was only right and castigate his brother for being such an egomaniac that he couldn’t accept he’d made a mistake. It’s only your word against mine he mumbled as he left to make his brother some tea. He also admitted that Chuck could get him disbarred if anyone would believe the story.

Then the payoff of the episode came quickly. Chuck got up after Jimmy left the room and went to a tape recorder that was hidden under some pile of things and clicked it off. He had found it in the garage, fished it out of his electronic artifacts and used it in a tit-for-tat con. Why did Jimmy admit anything? We know why. It’s the complex love he has for Chuck that drives him to go only so far to make his points. One con deserves another? They do to Chuck McGill, the man whose mother didn’t recognize his voice or care to recognize it moments before she took her last breath.

We’ve seen enough movies to know that if you want to pull a stunt like Jimmy did, you have to follow it through to the end. At his core he’s a sweet guy, which show creator Vince McGill admitted in an interview prior to finale airing. He said it would be a “minor tragedy” once McGill morphs into Saul Goodman, because Saul has none of that left in him.

We saw Mike follow his heart and conscience too when he had an opporunity to kill Hector Salamanca with a long range rifle.  He’d called in an expert to help him get as accurate as he could be, and bought the kind of ammunition that coupled with the force of the gun would end someone’s life instantly if it hit the bullseye.

Mike planted himself on a hillside overlooking the Salamanca home in a remote part of the desert and watched as the family took the driver there to be questioned, killed and ultimately shot in the head. As Hector stepped out of the house Mike’s view was blocked by Nacho, who seemed to stare directly in the direction of Mike, who stayed put.

Mike blinked, then made the decision to leave Nacho alive, which Nacho had told him was his trademark and his weakness. The gun was powerful enough and the bullet would have gone straight through Nacho to kill Hector, but Mike couldn’t do it.

He persevered despite the men returning to the house and remained in position to see if he could get a shot of Hector through a window, which his ballistics expert told him was possible to do.

All of a sudden he heard the sound of a car horn way behind him and it was so loud and the landscape so desolate he feared the Salamancas would hear it as well. He walked toward his car and realized it was his horn, and when he got to the car he found a note on the windshield with one word, “Don’t”.

Mike feared for his life and was left spinning around with his hand gun waiting for an ambush that never came. We didn’t see who left the note and of course, because Nacho was with Hector you had to scratch your head and wonder how the heck he pulled it off. The horn didn’t begin to blow until the gang went back into the house, leaving one henchman to bury the poor driver.

Mike left Hector alive only to have him wait for the fate we know is coming. Jimmy will probably appreciate how Chuck finally used his powers for dark side activity. In the previous episode he begged his brother to loosen up a little and to show that side of him. Well, he did and Jimmy will be the first to see how Chuck is fully capable of breaking the rules when necessary.

Is New Mexico a state in which secret recordings are admissible in civil matter? Guess we’ll find out when season three begins. Gilligan and partner Peter Gould are already in the writing process for that.

For those that still believe the program is too slow in revealing how Jimmy got to that office where Walter White and Jesse met him the first time, it’s going to be a very long wait indeed.

Photo credit: AMC, used with permission 

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