Archetypes: Television: Review: ‘Better Call Saul’ (2015): ‘Pimento’: Oh, Brother!



During his run as the affable, fast-talking criminal attorney in “Breaking Bad,” Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) was essentially the collegial “brother-in-crime.” After last night’s “Pimento” episode of “Better Call Saul,” it’s clear that Saul’s depraved clients in the future were probably more brotherly than his real life older brother Chuck (Michael McKean).

Astrological Mercury rules Gemini’s twins and, by extension, siblings. And “Breaking Bad”’s use of the Brother archetype was a key part of Walter White’s descent to the Underworld, as seen in the relationship between Walt (Bryan Cranston) and his brother-in-law DEA agent Hank (Dean Norris). Although related only by marriage, they were as good as blood siblings. As Hank got closer to the truth about Walt, Walt’s desperation escalated the duo’s cat-and-mouse game. Some of Walt’s thrust towards self-survival got mirrored in “Pimento,” in which the pre-Saul Jimmy McGill realizes older brother Chuck, who has his own psychological survival issues, has betrayed him.

Traditionally older brothers watch out for their younger counterparts. We know from past “Better Call Saul” episodes that Chuck has been a good one, bailing out his misguided, burgeoning criminal sibling – Chuck calls him “Slippin’ Jimmy” – on a regular basis. Chuck essentially embraces the Saturnine parental figure, doling out discipline, rules and conditions to set the kid straight. Beneath Chuck’s seeming generosity, though, there’s a vicious inflexibility, first observed when Jimmy tells his brother that he passed the bar.

Turns out Jimmy studied the law by correspondence (also a Mercurial theme), out of a school based in American Samoa. Chuck, a founding partner of a white-shoe law firm, seems stunned at the news that little brother – displaying the positive side of typically individualistic and non-corporate Uranian inclinations – has somewhat leveled the playing field. This narrowing of the gap between the two, especially in the face of Jimmy’s having found enough evidence to begin to mount a class-action law suit against the owners of a retirement home, is an irritant to Chuck’s belief that people don’t change or redeem themselves.

The rivalry simmering within Chuck – he’s the hemmed-in traditionalist having to confront the clever and do-good upstart – impels Chuck to call Jimmy “not a real lawyer” and secretly ensure that his law firm deny Jimmy a place at the table to pursue the lucrative case as part of the team. It’s archetypally on the mark that Chuck does his brother in with a phone call, also Mercury’s bailiwick. Says Chuck: “Slippin’ Jimmy, with a law degree? It’s like a chimp with a machine gun. People could get hurt.”

Here, it’s Jimmy who gets hurt, and most likely irrevocably. With Chuck’s treachery and Jimmy’s path towards a potentially respectable legal career now at a dead end, the bromance – and Jimmy’s generous overseeing of Chuck’s psychosomatic illness – is done.

Jimmy, as the show’s title promises, is now in the market for another blood brother. The blood part is something we already know he can do.

Archetype: Brother. Sibling. Traditionalist. Upstart.

Astrology Archetype:☿ (Mercury)

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