The final episode of the first season of Better Call Saul felt like a departure from the rest of the season. We wrapped up several loose ends, but there was really not much to it. As a season finale, there was a surprising lack of plot movement. What we did get was perhaps the most important character development from Jimmy/Saul that we've seen all season.
This whole season has really been about Slippin' Jimmy moving up to "Charlie Hustle" - side note: this is not really a flattering nickname, Pete Rose was a disgraced baseball player known for working really hard. Not flattering, but perhaps very appropriate. Charlie Hustle gave way to James McGill, Esquire. That was Jimmy's attempt at becoming an equal to his brother, which we saw blow up in his face in a spectacular fashion last week. This episode we see Jimmy finally start to turn into Saul Goodman.
(Tune in to the TV Soup Podcast - Better Call Saul S01E10 - "Marco" Review)
Jimmy has always been a guy who has excelled at pretending to be someone else (Kevin Kostner anyone?) Heck, once he dressed up as Matlock, his business started taking off. Perhaps he's always been most comfortable being someone else. He finally cracks while being a bingo caller and tells everyone in the room about a "Chicago sunroof". He's clearly not playing his Matlock role very well here, but Jimmy just can't get over his brother's betrayal at this time. Bob Odenkirk delivers one of the best monologues of the season (he has all but like 2 lines), and I won't butcher any of the funny moments for you here. Just make sure you go back and watch it at least one more time.
So, Jimmy needs a break and he heads up to Cicero, right back to his old stomping grounds. Marco might have been right when he said that Jimmy is basically the Miles Davis of scammers. It definitely was fun watching Slippin' Jimmy work. He picks up right where he left off with Marco, down to Marco sitting on the same damn barstool. They launch right into a "west facing Kennedy" scam without skipping a beat.
We're promptly lead into one of the most fun montages of the season (boy do I love my montages in this show). This one had everything - Nigerian Princes, a violin, “cash” coated in some black substance, cars being in a bad neighborhood, Irish lottery tickets, and of course plenty of booze and loot. Clearly, Jimmy and Marco are kings of their own domain, living it up and making up for the last 10 years.
Jimmy gets snapped back into reality with 15 voicemails about old people wanting to set up their will. The start contrast is definitely what is needed to bring Jimmy back into reality. He realizes that he’s got responsibilities back in Albuquerque and Chuck or no, he doesn’t exactly want to just bail on all those people. Marco convinces him to do one last Rolex scam and they set up in the exact same alley we saw them in back in episode 4, “Hero”.
The entire scam is very anti-climactic, but not because it’s a failure. In really the only plot of the episode, Jimmy comes up on Marco and he’s nearly dead. He manages to wake up Marco for a moment, who is able to convey a moment of pure joy, telling Jimmy that this has been the best week of his life. This HAS to stick with Jimmy for a long time, and I’m sure whenever he touches the ring he now wears, he remembers Marco’s smiling face when he told him that.
After Marco’s funeral, Jimmy heads back home in order to take advantage of a prospect he has with another law firm that is going to help out on the Sandpiper Crossing case. Just like Walter White’s offer from Grey Matter, which would have set him up for life, Jimmy just can’t bow down and refuses the opportunity. He’s reached the moment where he’s no longer living to be Chuck’s equal, he doesn’t care about impressing Kim, and he could care less what Howard Hamlin thinks of him at this point.
So, to close out the season we’re given one last cheesy moment in this episode. Jimmy pulls up to Mike’s tollbooth and rather blatantly conveys his regrets that they didn’t just take the $1.6 million from the Kettlemans. It’s not the money specifically, but Jimmy is apparently sick of not taking advantage of every opportunity in front of him. He’s not going to let the “right thing” get in his way anymore. This completes the tragic tale of Jimmy McGill and signals the transformation of Slippin’ Jimmy into Saul Goodman. I’m excited to see the reality checks that Saul has in season 2, and as a fanboy, I’m looking forward to lots more Breaking Bad drops.