Better Call Saul: Ep. 201 Switch
“It’s surprising how time slips away”
The lyrics from the song playing at the top of the Season 2 premiere of Better Call Saul couldn’t have been more appropriate when, as the viewer, you travel backwards in time from Saul, now known as Gene making cinnamon buns in Omaha, Nebraska to his days as Jimmy McGill in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When Season 1 of Better Call Saul ended Jimmy was at a crossroads. He was on the verge of regaining the case he had built against Sandpiper Crossing, the retirement home that was overcharging its residents for services rendered. After a failed attempt to work with HHM on the case due to his brother Chuck’s interference, Jimmy was offered a second chance to finish what he started with a new firm, Davis & Main. Everything seemed to be going his way until Jimmy turned around and walked away from the deal.
Switch, the Season 2 premiere picks up where Season 1 left off and begins with another black and white scene with Gene/Saul working for Cinnabon. As he takes out the trash at the end of the day, he gets locked in the garbage room. He moves to an emergency exit but stops after reading a sign indicating that once the door is opened, an alarm will be triggered and the police will be called.
Balding and stuck in the trash area while taking out the garbage, Jimmy almost looks like a subdued version of early Walter White. Jimmy is a prisoner of his past and of his surroundings. When he’s finally liberated from the room, Gene/Saul’s leaves a message scratched into the wall: “SG WAS HERE”. A hint of the old Saul bubbling under the surface and perhaps some of the frustration he feels due to his new lot in life.
Flashing backwards in time to the events in the Season 1 finale, Jimmy meets Howard, Kim and the team from Davis & Main. We get to see the gap in time from the previous episode before Jimmy and Mike meet in the parking lot to talk about the $1.6 mil that they both walked away from. That moment replayed here in the opening minutes of Switch details one of the shifts away from Jimmy McGill towards the emergence of his Saul persona.
Other highlights from the episode include Mike continuing to provide protection for Pryce, who shows up for another deal flaunting his new found wealth. Despite Mike’s words of wisdom against conducting his business in that fashion, Pryce decides to ignore Mike’s advice and the consequences are dire. Nacho’s reaction to Pryce’s grandstanding is a reminder of how Walter White could have turned out. The mask that Pryce wears after the power he obtained from his first drug deal is an echo of Walter White from an alternate universe.
In the aftermath of rejecting the Davis & Main deal, Jimmy relaxes in a hotel pool when he is visited by Kim. Jimmy, still stinging from Chuck’s betrayal, decides to seek his fortune on his own terms and an alcohol fuelled lesson in the stock market (courtesy of Breaking Bad alum, Ken) reveals Jimmy’s true skill: The Art of the Hustle.
Switch was a good start to the new season. It was a solid episode that continued to develop established characters and gave some insight into new ones. Although it had been happening all of last season, Jimmy began his first true steps toward becoming Saul Goodman. How quickly that transition happens remains to be seen, but the journey promises to be quite entertaining.