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Spoilers below for anyone who hasn’t yet watched Better Call Saul‘s season premiere.
TV is finally back to being more than just a wall-mounted paperweight now that Better Call Saul has returned to audiences for Season 3, and the premiere was a tension-soaked exercise in craftsmanship. Viewers were granted a look at Jimmy future as Cinnabon Gene, though which a little bit of Saul’s personality shone, but there’s a slight chance a smaller clue within the episode hinted at the ultimate end game for Jimmy McGill. (That means death, yo.) And it all comes down to the episode title and what it means.
The premiere’s name, “Mabel,” appears to be a non-cryptic reference to The Adventures of Mabel, the children’s book discussed early on when Jimmy was helping Chuck’s redecorating efforts inside his office. For Jimmy, talking about The Adventures of Mabel was a knowingly forced way of eliciting a nostalgic emotional response out of his brother after an extremely uncomfortable ordeal. For Chuck, it’s another annoying attempt by Jimmy to avoid the topic at hand. For audiences, though, it’s a temporary wormhole of speculation that offers just the kind of narrative parallels that Better Call Saul co-creator (and Breaking Bad creator) Vince Gilligan is known for.
The parallels here don’t actually come from the illustrated Mabel story, about a girl who gains the ability to talk to animals, but from author Harry Thurston Peck. The book was first published under Peck’s pseudonym, Rafford Pyke, and the use of more than one name/identity should be pretty curious to Better Call Saul fans, knowing that Jimmy McGill’s future will contain at least two major name changes, and possibly more. But while many writers’ pseudonyms are employed innocently, Peck was more advantageous. He was also the first editor-in-chief of the literary journal The Bookman — he’s credited with creating the first bestseller list for books in America — but he also used the pages of The Bookman to provide The Adventures of Mabel with good criticism as “Harry Thurston Peck” and in other ways. “Rafford Pyke” also had articles published in The Bookman, and Peck was known for using other writer aliases during his career.
Say, hasn’t Jimmy McGill also used a bunch of faux testimonials in order to boost up the popularity and awareness of his law game? That could even just count as circumstantial evidence if “Mabel” didn’t make the conscious decision to bring back Brendan Fehr’s Captan Bauer back to get angry with Jimmy about the falsity-driven commercial he filmed. And after doing his usual hemming and hawing, Jimmy resorted to reverse-threats that damaged any legit sympathy he may have gained.
Which brings us to the rest of Harry Thurston Peck’s life, and how it might play into JImmy’s future. Some years after The Bookman, Peck became a professor at Columbia University, from which he’d graduated. In 1910, he was promptly terminated after reports surfaced that he was an adulterer involved in a lawsuit from a former secretary alleging they’d been lovers and that he’d promised her marriage. A colleague of his at the school, Joel Spingarn, also got excised after trying to defend Peck. With fewer writing opportunities coming his way, Peck grew depressed and eventually used a gun to end his own life in 1914.
Walter White was the reason why Saul Goodman’s existence blew up, which ended up taking Mike’s life with it, so perhaps that’s a reflection of Peck’s professional problems. Or maybe he’ll get into some weird love triangle later on with Kim and his eventual secretary Francesca, and that’s what sends him into full Saul Goodman mode. (I’d allow for other characters we may meet to play into that scenario, too, though Jimmy’s love life doesn’t seem to be made for multiple partners.) But what about that suicide? Vince Gilligan has teased that he’s got ideas for where Gene’s life goes in the future, and we’ve seen that the mall manager has still got some spunk left in him. So what could happen that would lead him down such a despair-filled road that a gun is the only answer? Perhaps nothing, since this could all just be a children’s lit-fueled fever dream. But with Gilligan, it’s almost always something.
We likely won’t get any big answers to the question of Jimmy ultimate fate, but you can catch all the interim details when Better Call Saul airs on AMC on Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET. Head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide to see everything else that’s hitting the small screen in the near future.
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