Better Call Saul premiere postmortem: Bob Odenkirk on Jimmy’s (and Kim’s) surprising moves
[SPOILER ALERT: This story contains plot points from Better Call Saul’s season 2 premiere, “Switch,” which aired Monday night.]
Well, he’s still Jimmy, not yet Saul. And he’s still unpredictable, not yet solvable. The season 2 premiere of AMC’s Better Call Saul revealed what happened to our scrappy lost-soul lawyer after he rejected the job offer to join Davis & Main and instead rode off into the unknown in the season 1 finale. In the latest chapter of this Breaking Bad prequel that focuses on the transformation of Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), Jimmy tore down his legal shingle at the nail salon, drank some unauthorized cucumber water, floated in a pool, drank some ill-gotten tequila, pulled off a grift with his smoking (and so much more) buddy Kim (Rhea Seehorn), floated some more in the pool, and made a surprising phone call to accept that job at Davis & Main after all.
Read on to see what Odenkirk told EW about Jimmy’s midlife clarity, his complicated relationship with Kim, and, yes, that light switch that must be touched.
On the show’s second flash-forward with Jimmy/Saul, who is now living in Omaha as Cinnabon manager Gene in the post-Breaking Bad future
“The notion that this guy’s going to have a life that we’re going to explore is extremely intriguing to me. Because the way this whole show was pitched was him finding his way to becoming Saul Goodman, but it suggests that perhaps the real arc of the show is a person becoming multiple stages of themselves and seeing an adult sort of mature, find themselves, think they’ve found themselves, and then really find themselves, and that would be a hell of journey to go on if the guys choose to go on it. But the fact that we revisit Gene again makes me think that the story may be unfolding over a longer period and of a greater breadth than anybody initially considered. I love that Gene is sad as hell, and he’s alone and he’s where a lot of guys get in their mid-40s, 5’s and for some reason, every pathway [is] dead-ended.”
On Gene carving “SG” (as in, Saul Goodman) into the wall while he was trapped in the trash area
“One thing I’ve thought about, and it’s such a zeitgeist term, [is] ‘flow,’ where a person is kind of lost in their talents and their endeavors [and they] utilize their own energy so well that life is a wonderful experience for that time. There’s a pure joy to that activity and I feel like, as Saul Goodman or at least in that persona, at least for a time, Jimmy McGill found his flow. And it was the time when he was the most effective, using his natural talents, pleasing himself, and solving problems, and getting that buzz off being alive. So when he’s Gene, that’s the part of Saul Goodman that feels saddest for losing. Not the suits, not the funny show that he put on, but just the great feeling of letting his talents run riot. And he was, at least for a while there, winning.
On the audience finally getting more insight into his romantic relationship with Kim
“It’s about time. I mean, I hate when shows tease those kinds of relationships for too long. These two people make each other laugh. They get each other. They might scold each other and Kim might be embarrassed by Jimmy at times, but honestly, she thinks he’s great, and there’s a weird shared vantage point that they have on life. Even though they’re trying to do different things and they’re trying to do them in different ways, they see the same things. … So they belong together.”
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On whether his decision to take the corporate law job at Davis & Mavin after looking at his ring (previously worn by his partner-in-grift, Marco) was partly a move to seek Kim’s approval:
“Definitely. That’s a moment where he realized — look, she told him, ‘We can’t do this every night,’ and Marco [Mel Rodriguez], that friend of his, and the ring, it represents the last time somebody really just loved him for who he was, didn’t want him to change, even with the negatives that came with those particular talents that he has. That’s what Marco reminds him of — self-acceptance and acceptance from somebody, but it’s really self-acceptance that you see echoed in the world around you somewhere, and he’s had a hard time finding that. And for that moment with Kim, where she goes along with him on the escapade, he feels it again — she’s surprising him. Some part of him must have had an instinct that she has that in her, and she can do that. She also says, ‘You know, I’m not going to actually live this way,’ and in that moment in the pool is where he thinks, ‘Okay. She shared that side of her with me, but I do need to step up, because I can’t ask her to just live in my little fantasy world.’
“And maybe there’s other things at work there, too. He goes to that job, but he throws that [light] switch, and some part of him knows from the second he takes that job that he doesn’t belong there, as opposed to HHM, where he was deluded into thinking, ‘I’m going to fit in great here.’ I think this other job he takes with a sense of, ‘Ah, let’s see if I can make this work. I’ll try, but probably not.’ He’s already thinking that, which is nice because he has a self-awareness. It’s not a damper on it. I like that guy for trying. It’s more fun to watch him when he has this self-awareness. It’s so hard to watch him in season 1, when he’s chasing that approval that we all suspect he is not going to get. And I think in this case, it may be more of a, ‘Maybe I can come to terms with this. Maybe I can make this work for me, and keep Kim in my life because she’s played ball with me and, come on. We’re connecting here.’ But let me point out one other thing: If he really wants to prove his brother wrong, about his brother’s appraisal of him, there’s no better place to go except to take a job at a competitor’s place and kick ass. That would really prove Chuck [Michael McKean] wrong.
On the inevitability of Jimmy turning off the light switch in his office that is labeled, “Do not turn off”
“That f—ing light switch moment. I watched it [at the premiere screening], and man, the audience, the second he looked at that switch, people laughed. And then he gets up and walks to that window, and they started laughing right away and reacting, because he’s not even looking at it and they just know. You’ve got to throw that switch. He can’t not do it. They’re dialed in so sensitively to the person, and what they’re after, and who they are, and what they can’t change about themselves. It’s amazing that that little moment has that feeling to it.”
On the episode’s two Breaking Bad winks: An appearance by Ken [Kyle Bornheimer], whose car is blown up by Walt [Bryan Cranston], and the scene in which Ken, Jimmy, and Kim drink Zafiro Anejo tequila
“Well, Ken’s a douchebag in Breaking Bad and they needed a douchebag … That’s what they’re drinking when all those guys all get poisoned in Mexico by Gus [Giancarlo Esposito]. Listen, there’s so much stuff like that in this season.”
On what to expect from Jimmy and Kim’s relationship moving forward in season 2:
“I mean, if the world would cooperate, they’d be a great team.”