Better Call Saul Season Finale Review: “Marco” (Season 1, Episode 10)

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Of all the things “Marco” accomplishes beautifully and efficiently, it sums up Jimmy’s two-faced personality. In Albuquerque, Jimmy turns into Mr. Humility, trying to patch things up with the man he called a “pig fuck” the day before and having a friendly chat with Kim. In Chicago, he slips right back into his oil salesman slickness as he scams unsuspecting bar patrons. Soon, the two old friends are back to their old tricks, which include a handy Kevin Costner impersonation.

A hyperactive, kaleidoscopic montage of Jimmy and Marco grifting their way to riches is shot with verve and intelligence. The two men look straight at the camera (that plays the role of the unsuspecting pawn), with a black background shrouding the rest of their bodies as boozy inanimate objects (neon signs and the like) fling around the screen. The spectacle is like a hallucination, and it’s a thrilling, refreshing artistic departure for a series that spends so much of its time baking in the New Mexico sunlight. (Also, the shots of Odenkirk in control as he looks right at the camera is also a change from the various low-angle shots that weaken Jimmy’s appearance at the beginning of “Marco.”)

Even with only around 25 minutes of total screen time, the friendship between Jimmy and Marco is fully dimensional. When Jimmy pokes at his friend in the middle of a con and realizes he is not responding, the emotional anguish is genuine, not too cheapened by the condensed run time of the subplot. Meanwhile, if the episode is anti-climactic in a way the final scene from The Usual Suspects certainly isn’t, it is in Jimmy’s too-quick, off-the-cuff move to abandon the interview at the blandly named Davis & Main for the open road.

So, which side does Jimmy ultimately decide to follow – the exciting, risky one going west (a callback to one of his successful scams) or the one facing east, with its promise of a stable, secure life and good salary. When Chuck threw insults into his brother’s face at the end of “Pimento,” explaining that his brother could never change from Slippin’ Jimmy, our hearts went out to the scrappy underdog. However, even with the promise of potential wealth and a job working on the Sandpiper case at a partner firm, Jimmy clutches Marco’s ring on his finger and realizes there’s no point for him to aspire to keep doing the right thing. Where has that left Jimmy beforehand? Burnt by a betraying brother and miles away from easy money.

Jimmy may initially think he wants to take the job at a top-notch firm that could pay him enough for a vacation in Belize, but as he soon realizes, he is just going to head west (as some Kennedy collectible coins do) and try his damndest not to leave the “God-forsaken wasteland” of Albuquerque. As it turns out, to refer back to a line from Bryan Singer’s classic, the greatest trick Jimmy McGill (and Better Call Saul’s writers and directors) may have ever pulled was convincing the world that Saul Goodman didn’t exist.

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