BALI HA’I – 8/10.
It is often said that everyone is pretending to be someone that they are not, and for the assembled players of Better Call Saul this is most definitely true. While some are trying to convince others that the mask they wear is their true self, others seem to be trying only to convince themselves. Jimmy continues to play nice as he toils away at Davis & Main under the pedantic gaze of Erin, his partner appointed babysitter. No matter how hard he tries Jimmy just doesn’t fit, not in the office, not in his executive apartment, even his travel mug doesn’t fit in to the holder on his company car. Unable to sleep he finds himself retreating to the discomfort of his old office at the nail parlour. It may not have been perfect but at least he could be himself there.
Meanwhile, Kim finds herself promoted out of the basement after winning her way into Chuck’s good graces by landing a huge account for the firm. This doesn’t sit well with Howard, who makes it fairly clear that she is still going to be punished. He sends her to an unwinnable hearing without any support where she is duly trounced by Sandpiper Crossing’s lawyers, Schweikart & Cockley. But Kim doesn’t go down without a fight and she manages to impress Rick Schweikart in the process. He invites her out for lunch where he tells her that her talents are being wasted at HHM and offers her a partnership tracked position at his firm. Kim is tempted but she declines the offer out of loyalty to a firm that has shown very little loyalty to her. Despite this Schweikart says the offer still stands.
While Jimmy and Kim wear fake smiles Mike wears an altogether different mask, putting on his war face as Hector’s minions try to scare him into taking the gun charge for Tuco. Mike is unintimidated, even going so far as to beat the holy hell out of a couple of Hector’s men. Despite the strength of his resolve, Mike is left with no choice but to submit after Hector’s twin nephews (yes, those twin nephews) threaten his granddaughter. But Mike is no patsy, he meets with Hector in front of his gathered forces and demands $50,000 to take the gun charge. He makes his position clear; either Hector pays or they shoot it out, impressed by Mike’s cojones Hector agrees to the deal. Much to Nacho’s surprise, Mike gives him half of the money as a refund for his failure to get rid of Tuco.
Having had enough of Howard, Kim heads to a nearby bar where she catches the eye of a rich, yet sleazy engineer. Sensing a mark, she calls Jimmy and asks him to help her run a scam. Jimmy jumps at the chance to escape from the office and spend some quality time with Kim after being ignored for so long. They use their ‘wealthy siblings’ routine to scam the man into writing a check, before spending the night together at Kim’s apartment. In the morning Kim tells Jimmy about her job offer and admits to feeling guilty about convincing him to take the job at Davis & Main. He tells her to go for the job and reassures her that he loves working at Davis & Main. Of course this is a lie, Jimmy feels trapped and in a tiny act of tiny rebellion he uses a crowbar to remove the ill fitting cup holder from his company car.
This was yet another fantastic episode of BCS that moved the focus away from Jimmy and on to the other characters in this brilliantly crafted ensemble. While Jimmy continued to suffer like a caged bird at Davis & Main, the brunt of the narrative shifted onto Mike and Kim and the difficult positions that they now find themselves in. Like Jimmy, Mike and Kim are in transition; moving away from the lives they have been leading towards something new and unknown. Mike began this journey the day he killed the men that murdered his son, to steal a turn of phrase, he broke bad. While he may cling to his morals by refusing to kill Tuco and returning Nacho’s money to him, he will soon have to realise that there are no half measures in this new life, especially if he wants to keep his family safe.
Of course this episode also featured a cameo from yet more Breaking Bad alumni, Marco and Leonel. But like Tuco and Hector, their presence within the story makes perfect sense and it wasn’t overplayed. It is doubtful that this will be the last we see of Hector and the twins, but I still have the inescapable feeling that this is all leading to the introduction of yet another familiar face, Gustavo Fring. But where BCS has truly excelled is in its introduction of new faces; intriguing characters like Kim and Nacho who are played to perfection by Rhea Seehorn and Michael Mando. The fact that we don’t see them in Breaking Bad makes their destinies all the more intriguing. But ultimately it all comes back to one question; how much longer before Jimmy snaps and Saul comes slithering out?
POINTS OF INTEREST
- You could see how much it pained Jimmy to have to watch the sedated, Davis & Main version of the Sandpiper commercial; although the wave effect was very soothing.
- Is Rick Schweikart actually interested in Kim or could this be some horrific ploy to gain leverage over HHM in the Sandpiper case?
- Mike has proven himself to be endlessly resourceful in the past but using carbon paper under his door mat as an intruder alert system was pure genius.
- Jimmy can’t help but lie, while he may have had the best intentions he should have been honest with Kim and admitted how much he hates his job.