Lucky you! You get to see Better Call Saul on consecutive days. You get to see Jimmy McGill begin his path down the dark side, and witness him save his skin from Tuco Salamanco. “Mijo” was primarily about how Saul-to-be gets out of a sticky situation with one of the most ferocious drug dealers in the Breaking Bad saga, and showcased some of Jimmy’s best verbal skills – like negotiating with a stone cold killer to follow Hummarabi’s code, while getting him to pass on the Columbian neckties.
Drugs are bad, mmkay?: We got to know Tuco Salamanca from his days as a tweaked out drug dealer who fun-dipped a little too hard into his own product. While that Tuco was a horrifying blast to watch, this calm and collected Tuco is far better to watch. He’s already a bit paranoid, and you can just see a Tony Montana-style drug binge in his future, but right now, he’s much funnier, much smarter, and I actually found myself rooting for him.
No problem, just spilled some Saul-sa: You can’t get blood out with spit, Tuco! I found it so adorable that poor little Abuelita had no idea that her son was a murdering drug dealer. The scene with the club soda was one of the funniest of the series so far; we’ve all had to hide something from a grandparent who keeps trying to be helpful. He even shoos her away to watch the rest of her telenovela. Awww! Although, with a man like Hector Salamanca in the family, I’m not entirely sure how Abuelita stays innocent. I wonder if Tio will make an appearance.
Recurring themes: Where Better Call Saul is already excelling is the continuation of themes. From Tuco’s personality to Jimmy’s blow-ups at Mike Ehrmantraut to the Public Defender montage (it’s showtime, folks!), Vince Gilligan and company know how to make something feel brand new, yet still have the feeling of familiarity. And, of course, don’t forget the desert abductions and Gilligan’s adoration for the word “bitch” – although, biznatch is a good twist on an old favorite.
Meh… uneven pacing: I was largely pleased with this episode, but the pacing between the story-driven last half of the episode and the frightening first half led to a slight loss of momentum. Luckily, the end kicked the story right back into high gear.
Jimmy is a freakin liar!: Aside from the pacing, the cons in this show are few and far between. One thing I am noticing is that things that actually happened here are not exactly how he describes them in Breaking Bad. Nothing Saul has said in Breaking Bad can be taken at face value. He might be a hard-working guy and care deeply for his brother, Chuck, but Jimmy McGill is also a natural born hustler.
Nachos grande: When Tuco calls the “clean-up” crew, he mentions Nacho by name. This guy could be a throwback reference to a line in S2E8 of Breaking Bad, where Walt and Jesse kidnap Saul and take him to the desert. When they take off the mask, Saul proclaims, “It wasn’t me, it was Ignacio!” This could be a reference to this Nacho.
Tuco has made a poor career choice: Whether it’s caring for the elderly or cooking food for those who try to play them, Tuco has a knack far beyond drug-dealing and murdering. Anytime Tuco whips up something in the kitchen, it means violence for anyone nearby that tries to punk his family. I can’t help but feel bad that his life ended up the way it did.
Stop. Helping.: You may recognize No-Doze from the junkyard in Breaking Bad. You know, the one Tuco ends up murdering with his bare hands in front of “The Heisenberg” and Jesse. I always thought that was just Tuco being crazy, but I expect there to be more hilarious exchanges like this leading up to what we say in BrBa.
Special Agent Jeffrey Steele: Saul’s genius code name is the same as that of popular country singer Jeffrey Steele. What a cowinkidink! I couldn’t find a particular reason that his inclusion could be shared as an Easter Egg, but he did release an album in 2004 called Hell on Wheels, another popular AMC show.
Operation Kingbreaker: Because it’s Vince Gilligan, nothing is coincidence. The 2010 movie, Kingbreaker, centers around a Hank, a Miriam (Marie??), a Walter and the Mexican Drug Cartel. It’s just too close to call.
“I’m a lawyer, not a criminal”: When Jimmy gets volun-told to help Nacho rob the Kettleman’s stash, his retort is one that will be twisted around when Jesse Pinkman pitches Walt that they employ Saul Goodman’s services.
Familiar Territory: The desert scene in this episode was filmed in the same location as the Breaking Bad episode “Say My Name,” where Walt and Declan come to an… understanding.
Drug Talk: When Jimmy is pretending to be an FBI agent, he actually spouts out a whole bunch of stuff that makes sense. Title 21: Schedule II – Schedule V, Part B is suuuuper vague, but if you’d like to read all the legal mumbo-jumbo behind it, here’s the link. I’ll leave it to somebody much smarter than me to make a connection there.
Petty with a prior: While Jimmy seeks to negotiate with the prosecutor, her keeps repeating this phrase, which means that if a person has been priorly convicted of theft, his next charge can be upped to a felony.
Jimmy still had some humanity: Jimmy goes out of his way to save the stupid twins, even though they were the only reason that they all ended up in the Danger Zone. I don’t know that Saul of Breaking Bad would do that – or pay for their medical bill. “I just talked you down from a death sentence to six-months probation; I’m the best lawyer ever.” And Chuck? His electromagnetic hypersensitivity illness, which is a real thing, makes me think that he must be dead by the time BrBa happens – or at least Jimmy will be dead to Chuck.
Space Blankets: Space blankets are real things. They exist. First designed by NASA in 1964, you can buy them for like $15 now. And they look fashionable as fuck.
Calling Nacho: The number that Nacho leaves Jimmy at the end of the episode? Yeah, it’s real. 505-242-6087
Music from the Episode: “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Esquivel (1959) plays during Jimmy’s rendezvous with a sexy lady at the bar.
“It’s showtime, folks” is an recurring quote from All That Jazz (1979) – along with this musical number – that makes an appearance during Jimmy’s bathroom pep talk montage. “It’s from a movie!”
Hush Comics gives “Mijo” an A for the way that it continues to slowly unfold the story of Jimmy McGill. Walter White wasn’t the only one who suffered a fall from grace. “Mijo” shows that Jimmy had a dance with the devil over the subject of scamming, but his mingling with the criminal world is going to prove that he is but a fly in the spider’s web. Even as he tries to protest his identity as a criminal, he’s still at the mercy of Tuco and Nacho’s will.