I’m the youngest of four. My three older brothers are stronger, smarter, and cooler than me. I’m pretty sure I’ve always envied my brothers. Being the baby brother meant that no one took me seriously but that I could get away with most things. But I’ve always felt small around them. I sought their approval. What they provided were three paths in front of me that would lead me to a new, cooler, and better me. But, try hard as I may, I never felt like I fit in with my brothers. Aside from being the youngest, I always felt like there was a mental gap between us. Something we could never communicate over the years.
We all care for each other, it’s just that we all care in different ways. Imagine you and a group of people looking at a canyon. This canyon is so big that if you asked one person what they saw, another person might not have seen it. We’re all looking at the same thing but we each see it differently. So from here, I’m going to try to avoid looking at things from the “baby” point of view. I will approach things from the perspective of someone who is 27 and happens to be the youngest in his family.
Our family is loud. It wasn’t that we were yelling at each other, but rather, near each other. Like many families, to be right means you have to be the loudest. This led to me throwing temper tantrums everywhere; in preschool; at the grocery store; inside an all you can eat buffet because my mom brought me vanilla ice cream with sprinkles (I wanted mint chocolate chip).
We often talk over each other and it’s hard to hear because (a) we’re all shouting (b) we’re all shouting about different points and (c) none of us knows why we’re angry. Looking back, I know I was yelling because nobody was listening to me. These days, I say nothing because if nobody is listening I have nothing to say.
Why should I talk?
Better Call Saul follows Jimmy McGill, a former con man turned lawyer. His older brother, Charles McGill, saves him from his scheming ways and moves him from Cicero, Illinois to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here, Charles is a renowned law partner to one of the biggest firms in the state, Hamlin Hamlin and McGill. Jimmy gets a job in the mailroom of Charles’ law firm and eventually becomes a lawyer himself. He asks his older brother, “Well are you proud of me?”
The other night, my second oldest brother Thomas called me. We mostly talked about Shang-Chi, but then started talking about the way our family has communicated over the years. He points out how difficult it would be to live at home as an adult, because so many things trigger ways we have communicated in the past. My therapist tells me, that you become the age you were when you were hurt, and so here I am yelling agan; throwing a tantrum again. But Thomas doesn’t raise his voice at me. He asks how he can better communicate with me and if there was something he said wrong. He asks me to explain how it made me feel so that he can better understand me. I take a breath. I apologize for the outburst and we continue on. We could have never done that when we were younger, or even last year for that matter.
As a family, we all live in different places but still kind of near each other. Thomas tells me that once, when he and our oldest brother were living together, they had an argument; literally screaming at each other. None of them even remember what the fight was even about. It was there that us as a family started making deliberate attempts to make sure: (a) we were all communicating well (b) we were getting to the same page finally and (c) we’d be able to understand each other’s struggle. But the more we talked, the more confused I became. I didn’t actually know what I wanted. From my family or myself.
Jimmy’s and Charles’ relationship is complicated. Jimmy became a lawyer and wanted to impress Charles. We learn that Charles doesn’t consider Jimmy a real lawyer. Charles sees Jimmy as a crook and a charlatan. As “Slippin’ Jimmy”, the low life who would find ice to slip on and then threaten a lawsuit against the victim who didn’t clear their patch of sidewalk. The issue presented is that Charles doesn’t trust Jimmy to fully change. He’s seen the way Jimmy drums up business in a morally gray way. Jimmy gets into situations where he’s the hero. Charles knows his little brother is orchestrating the whole shennagain to get what he wants. Charles yells. “You can’t let him get away with this! You have to stop him!”
Charles will always see his younger brother as “Slippin’ Jimmy.” My brothers and I are learning to see each other as we are. We don’t talk to each other like we used to; we’re not crammed in that house on 92nd anymore. I think I’ve stopped trying to be the person they expect me to be. Jimmy became a lawyer for Charles, and then Charles told him that he would never change. It makes me wonder: so why bother? Why not be exactly who they think you are? Why not slip back into your crooked ways? Thomas tells me that it’s up to me to figure out who to become and I don’t who that is at this very moment, but that’s alright. If I only see myself as the “youngest brother” everyone will continue to treat me that way. I want to see myself for who I am; it’s something only I can figure out.
We Three by The Inkspots plays in an opening scene. The lyrics of the song go, “We three, we’re all alone / Living in a memory / My echo, my shadow, and me” and then we see Jimmy McGill, living in a black and white existence. He says nothing past saying hello and good night. Throughout the series, we see Jimmy explore who he is and whether or not he can really change. Which one is his echo and which one is his shadow? Is he just the younger brother? Will he always be Slippin’ Jimmy, destined to fall forever? Or can he escape the memories and create new ones?
I have also tried to be somebody that I’m not. It hurts to crack yourself into multiple parts. It is the loudest noise. It breaks you.
I’m getting better now. I’m still not sure who I want to be, but that’s okay. I’m changing and I’m proud of that. We call each other. We don’t yell anymore.