Sunday, February 23, 2020

REVIEW: 'Better Call Saul' - Jimmy Lets the World Know About the Legal Prospects of Saul Goodman in 'Magic Man'

AMC's Better Call Saul - Episode 5.01 "Magic Man"

Now doing business as "Saul Goodman," Jimmy unveils an unorthodox strategy for client development that tests Kim's tolerance of his new legal persona. Lalo searches for the mysterious "Michael," only to discover a problem within his own operation.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of AMC's Better Call Saul.

"Magic Man" was written by Peter Gould and directed by Bronwen Hughes

The fourth season saw Jimmy McGill crafting the Saul Goodman identity. He was a man scrambling for a purpose during his suspension from practicing law. He strived for a way to show off his marketable skills. He found a way to survive. And now, he has convinced himself that embracing Saul Goodman fully is the way for him to start his life anew and return to the law. He has that opportunity now. It's something he decides on instantly. It isn't something he discussed with Kim first. In fact, it's clear that she has reservations about the idea. She doesn't know how practical it is. Plus, it seems like a version of a man she no longer understands or knows how to love. That is absolutely heartbreaking. There was always the sense that things were going to end tragically between Jimmy and Kim. And now, that may be more inevitable than ever. It is so quietly devastating to see how he goes through these elaborate illusions in order to offer the impression of importance. In that final moment, he is trying to help Kim get her client to accept the best deal he is going to get in his case. She is horrified because it's an amoral tactic that should have no place in the law. She has found her own sense of idealism by working more cases as a public defender. She sees the value in negotiating these deals that have a real human impact. She sees firsthand that this man spending a couple months in prison could cause him to lose out on some precious moments and memories with his expecting wife. She presents him with this offer. He doesn't want to listen to her logic because he believes going to trial is the best case for him because he is more than willing to take that risk. That's the type of client she is dealing with. She is arguing for the best deal possible. That's the way she serves the law. It's a way that is beneficial to the system while still having empathy for those caught up in it. Meanwhile, she sees that Saul has a much more manipulative tactic. It's all about the showmanship. That is unruly and despicable. He crafts this narrative where he is playing to people around him instead of to any legitimate case. He has no problem creating that false reality either. He sees it as a way to build up his clientele. It's a way to get him through the door so that people can start to see him as a lawyer. Saul Goodman is more than just the guy who can sell phones. He has a law license and is more than willing to use it to help people out of their problems. He certainly presents lines he isn't willing to cross. He doesn't want to be involved in violent felony cases. Those morals will eventually fly out the window though. He will provide his legal expertise to the types of criminals who will manipulate it to their own advantage. It will make it so he becomes infamous and has to go into hiding under a new name. The cold opens that start each season have continually pointed out just how tragic and melancholic all of this will become. The black-and-white entry here may prove that there is simply no escaping the Saul Goodman identity. That was the brand he accepted whole-heartedly. It forced him on the run. It may still offer him a sense of power because he believes he can handle this threat to his way of life as Cinnabon Gene without having to change identities once more. It's just one guy who is causing problems for him. A guy who isn't going to the police. He just lives in the moment of interacting with a person he knows is a fugitive. That highlights the underlying pompous attitude of the series' central character. He believes he always knows what's right no matter which identity he is living in. That can frequently create tragic consequences. He forces Kim into scamming her clients. She is horrified by that prospect but does so anyway. There was no way for her to get out of that. All of that ensures that the rise of Saul Goodman will create a monster who really can't help himself. He must act boldly in order to prove his worth under this new alias. Jimmy McGill is gone. He can't go back. This is a new life. One where he has to make an immediate impact. The other storylines can take their time and build a sense of momentum. Mike is horrified by the idea that what he had to do to Werner was good and noble. It was a heinous action where he can't justify the need to do it. It was a brutal choice he had to make. He did so out of self-preservation. He just doesn't know how to move forward knowing that Gus wants him to do nothing at the moment. There are too many problems out there that need to be addressed before construction can start anew. That may present a vast and empty future for Mike. That is where the show so frequently finds poignant character moments though. Saul is now living in the theatricality of his life. It's a performance that can be enthralling to those around him. Kim has been entranced by it before. It just comes under a new context. One that she may not be able to support. The questionable morality of this world and these characters has always been on display. And now, that tension continues to increase just as Kim is unsure of how to voice any concerns while going along with everything that Jimmy now wants to accomplish as Saul. Mike can make his intentions known. But the tragic uncertainty of life can be so daunting and all-consuming as well. That may confirm that none of these characters should be happy with any action they have made or may have to do next. That's a precarious place for storytellers to start the season. And yet, it's a visceral experience for the audience.