Review: Better Call Saul 501 – Magic Man

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill, Lavell Crawford as Huell Babineux – Better Call Saul _ Season 5 – Photo Credit: Warrick Page/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Better Call Saul 501 – Magic Man

The shadows of one’s past are always there even in the light, threatening to swallow those who dare to outrun them. This is never more evident than in the opening moments of Magic Man, the Season 5 premiere of Better Call Saul. Although Jimmy has cast off the masks of the past and settled into the unremarkable routine or his latest alter ego, Gene the echoes of his past are forever ringing in his ears.

The specter of his former life has Jimmy constantly looking over his shoulder after recent events. To complicate matters even further his effectiveness as a self-promoting genius tears away at his new façade opening himself up to potential new dangers. Danger that has him seeking the help of an old ally before deciding to take matters into his own hands.

When Magic Man slides back into the past it focuses on two storylines that contain parallel themes. In the first, Kim tries to reconcile her feelings now that Jimmy has decided to take up the moniker Saul Goodman for his return to practicing law. It’s not just the name change that has Kim searching for answers but also Jimmy’s sliding moral compass and business practices. The second storyline focuses on business practices as well but this time it revolves around Lalo Salamanca’s dissection of how the Salamanca crew runs his uncle’s operation – much to Nacho’s irritation – and Gus’s.

With his new alter ego up and running Jimmy soon works to build his client base. Resorting to his familiar bag or tricks, Jimmy/Saul dubbed the magic man by Huell, resurrects his mobile phone scam to lure people in. Part carnival barker, part marketing guru Jimmy is indeed a magic man using slight of tongue instead of hand to convince people he can help them with their legal woes.

Jimmy’s cavalier attitude towards the law comes into conflict with Kim’s who begins to distance herself. When she’s faced with a difficult decision regarding one of her clients, Jimmy offers her an out, albeit an unethical one. Realizing that Jimmy’s play might get her client what they want she wrestles with which course of action to choose. When she relents against her better judgement it doesn’t take long before she realizes that an irrevocable wedge has been shoved between them.

While everyone loves the magic man Saul Goodman, his introduction is the beginning of the darkness that will hang over Jimmy for the rest of his days. He will lose Kim, his identity, freedom and peace of mind if the black and white snippets of his present/future are any indication. That’s the problem with magic. While it can dazzle and amaze in the end it’s all an illusion. An inescapable lie and once the crowds have gone and the applause fades all that is left is nothing.