Jimmy McGill’s Colossal Wreck? Thoughts on the Season One Finale of Better Call Saul

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It’s no secret to regular readers that I’ve been this show’s most enthusiastic advocate, not for being well-written or providing well-developed characters, or keeping me in suspense–all of which it does–but for investing me emotionally in the journey of Jimmy McGill. I’ve loved every episode of Better Call Saul in this pilot season, but I have to say, I enjoyed last week’s show much more than this finale.

I just wasn’t buying Jimmy’s epiphany in the final minutes that seemed to come from nowhere. He didn’t hit rock bottom, he didn’t get desperate. Sure he got screwed by his brother, but Kim and his clients still believed in him. In fact, Jimmy had everywhere to go but down. He was excited when Kim called and told him about the job. He was on his way inside. Prestige, money, respect, proving his brother wrong, proving to himself that he is a good lawyer–he would have had all of these things.

I don’t care if as a writer, you want Jimmy to have an epiphany and literally walk in the opposite direction, but there has to be something in the story to support that decision, and something in his character that makes the audience say, “Yes, that’s the Saul we know from Breaking Bad.” As of now, I’m not sure why Jimmy is in that place. I can see that in the season finale, you might want Jimmy taking a step toward the dark side, but it seemed rushed, and forced.

In this episode, Jimmy returns to Chicago to find his old friend Marco literally sitting on the same bar stool where Jimmy left him a decade ago. During that time, Jimmy has of course graduated from law school while working in the mail room at HHM, developed a great relationship with Kim, and passed the bar exam. Jimmy and Marco have a fun week together scamming rubes, and then duty calls Jimmy back to New Mexico. Marco, however, calls this the “best week of his life” with his dying breath. Really? If this was the best week of your life, and these are your last words to Jimmy McGill, I’m thinking something has gone horribly wrong in your life.

And Jimmy is thinking….what? That’s the problem. Is he thinking “I gotta get me some of that amazing life that Marco described?” Why? For what reason? I’m not buying it. I need a reason. And I need a better one than Jimmy suddenly deciding that he and Mike should have taken the Kettlemans’ money. I’m disappointed. I was expecting more.

Remember during the final season of Breaking Bad, where they ran promos of Bryan Cranston reading Shelley’s “Ozymandias?” I’m getting chills just thinking about it. Essentially, these ads featured Walter White describing a “colossal wreck” where once stood a great king.

Where is Jimmy’s colossal wreck? Where is the great, insurmountable, depressing, fiasco that starts Jimmy on a downslide into Saul? We saw the beginnings of such a downfall when chuck betrayed him, but with so much still going so right in his life, what we saw last night cannot be it. So why, why didn’t Jimmy go into that meeting? What are your thoughts?

On a side note, Kudos to the writers for the Belize reference, and for the Kevin Costner scene. Both were nice touches for fans of Breaking Bad.

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5 thoughts on “Jimmy McGill’s Colossal Wreck? Thoughts on the Season One Finale of Better Call Saul

  1. Good/bad is a fine line crossed either way. Money gives you independence and being ‘your own boss’, so to speak. I think Jimmy changed his mind last minute because he realized he had done cartwheels to prove himself to his brother, to no avail. His brother would never approve. And if his brother finally approve of him, based on the work he did taking this new job, it would be condescending. There comes a time when you get sick of trying to prove yourself to others and decide to just do YOU. Jimmy realizes he can’t change who he is….slippin Jimmy! And that’s how he’s going to finally get his share of the pie.

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    1. Great answer! The best I’ve heard so far. I think you are right. When I rewatched it, he sounded like he didn’t want to be like HHM. Though I still wish it wasn’t all about what Chuck thought of him since his clients liked and respected him and Kim was still his friend and stuck up for him and believed in him. But I do think you are right and that it was all about Chuck. In my last post I said that people live up to our expectations of them. Chuck thinks he can’t be more than Slippin’ Jimmy, so that’s what he’ll be.

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    2. I guess my new question is, why is his self esteem so wrapped up in what his brother thinks, and not in himself or his clients or Kim? And if it was all about Chuck, why didn’t he quit being a lawyer immediately? He seemed so excited to take the job and the decision still seems to come out of nowhere at a random time (unless they are saying that seeing Mike inspired him when he entered the garage because he remembered the money?) then again, it wasn’t about getting rich with Jimmy, but proving himself. At any rate, what a great show that we’re still all thinking and talking about it 🙂

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