Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Kim is Not Skyler, or Thoughts on Better Call Saul

 We left Jimmy at a crossroads at the end of Season One.  He had cut ties with his brother Chuck, explained what exactly was a Chicago Sunroof at an epic bingo breakdown and had one last grifting binge back in Chicago.  He pulls away from the courthouse after swearing to Mike that he’ll never pass up the easy money again and starts humming Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple as he taps the wheel with Marco’s pinky ring and begins his inevitable evolution towards Saul Goodman, Defender of the Common Man and Upholder of The Constitution.
The first episode of Season 2, “Switch” features two fun callbacks to Breaking Bad, both related to the loudmouth yuppie Kim and Jimmy encounter at the hotel bar.  Walt blows up his BMW at the end of Cancer Man, after being cut off by him at the bank and the gas station.  You remember him, his license plate read KENWINS.  The second reference concerns the $500 shot tequila they enjoy while Jimmy runs his scam for free drinks and dinner.  The tequila is Zafiro Añejo, the very same brand Gus Fring used to poison the Mexican Cartel in Salud. 
All these references, and the fact that this is a sequel to Breaking Bad and exists in the same universe, (or Bad-verse, if you will) means that a comparison of Kim and Skyler is not only interesting but necessary.  What’s fascinating to me is that Jimmy’s relationship with Kim doesn’t illicit the same irritation and frustration I had with Walt and Skyler. 
Skyler had invested 17 years in Walt and felt a loss of power as he pulled away and transformed into Heisenberg.  Truth be told, Walt had so many secrets and was living a double life.  Breaking Bad was as much a story of the dissolution of a marriage as a building of an empire. 
Kim is more of an equal partner and has a clearer vision of who Jimmy actually is.  She’s also a lawyer, and has carved out her own identity and self-worth not contingent on Jimmy, or any relationship.  I suppose if we were to continue with the Breaking Bad comparisons she would be more like Lydia Rodart-Quayle, except without the frightened rabbit/Stevia obsession that annoyed so many viewers but I found endearing.
There are many more differences of course, Jimmy and Kim aren’t married, and they’re not beat down by a mortgage, broken dreams and unfulfilled lives.  Skyler was a much stronger and significant character in Breaking Bad than Kim’s role in Better Call Saul, at least presently.  But the primary difference is Jimmy is honest with Kim, far more transparent with what he’s thinking and who he actually is than Walt ever was.  And Kim for her part, is under no delusions as to Jimmy’s character, and is probably not in love with him, at least not yet (and hopefully, never).
Also, because it made me laugh, I calculated that a 25-ounce bottle of Zafiro Añejo would be about $8300, in addition to the hors d’oeuvres they ordered.  Poor Ken can’t catch a break but in his defense, he did tell them he was a money making machine... 

my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.