Previously on Better Call Saul, ‘Gloves Off’
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Michael McKean, Patrick Fabian, Jesse Ennis, Kerry Condon, Omar Maskati, Ann Cusack, | Writer: Ann Cherkis | Director: John Shiban
Jimmy remains employed with Davis & Main but under intense observation. Now supervised by a fellow associate, McGill is unable to finesse his way around legal proceedings. Kim continues to languish in HHM’s lower levels but is determined to save herself after trusting Jimmy. Though his plan appeared to work, Mike is bushwhacked by a huge player in the cartel that wants to make things right for Tuco.
I’M HERE ALL NIGHT!
“Rebecca” begins with a flashback to Jimmy’s first weekend working at HHM. Always the doting brother, Charles has a set up a celebratory dinner with his then-girlfriend whom the episode is named. Played by Ann Cusack, Rebecca is clearly a woman of worldliness and refinement so it’s awfully strange that she’d decide to plant roots in New Mexico. NOT THAT IT’S A BAD PLACE, but c’mon now… a world-class violinist resorted to a life with those two jokers? If it wasn’t for Chuck’s meltdown involving electricity and bright lights, one could confidently assume he broke down soon after his breakup with Ms. Salmon with Citrus Glaze.
Speaking of, dinner went much better than Charles expected, though it was partly at the expense of his surreptitious profession. Slippin’ Jimmy is still in effect albeit repentant; he remains very unrefined, to the point that even his ardent fans would wince at his table manners. This particular flashback fits in the history of Saul sometime after “Nacho”, when Jimmy was arrested yet again and Chuck almost let him rot in jail. Seemingly grateful for big brother’s change of heart, little Jimmy is making the best of his new situation in the mailroom, and even picked up a dozen or so lawyer jokes.
Strangely enough they work in Jimmy’s favor and by night’s end, Rebecca thinks the world of him. Of course Chuck doesn’t take kindly to his brother’s crude humor but the battle was lost once his girlfriend chimed in with a joke of her own. The cold open ends with a poignant moment that’s very telling about Charles’ disdain for James. When Chuck’s attempt to tell a lawyer joke misfires and doesn’t elicit the response he wished from Rebecca, he stewed there in bed, staring vacantly into oblivion. There were subtle hints in Chuck’s droll expression, alluding to him screaming internally about his dumb-as-a-doorknob sibling somehow one-upping him yet again.
PICKING UP THE PIECES
Thankfully, Better Call Saul gave its few female characters considerable screen time this week, leading the narrative and tone in “Rebecca” with a surety and tenacity our titular lead deeply lacks.
Viewers finally became more acquainted with Erin, a second-year associate at Davis & Main. Jessie Ennis has been in the background for most of Saul’s second season and has been giving more responsibilities (and lines!) as the firm is tightening up their case against Sandpiper. Thanks to Jimmy’s antics in “Amarillo”, Erin has been relegated to being his babysitter of sorts, combing over every detail of McGill’s documents. Don’t let her bubbly personality fool you; Erin’s bite is far worse than her nervous smile. It doesn’t take much for Jimmy to get under her skin, but from the sign of things, there’s plenty in the world that can nearly make Erin unhinged.
The real MVP of “Rebecca” was Kim Wexler and her dogged determination to restore her name and regain her status in the competitive offices of Hamlin Hamlin and McGill. In a series of montages, Wexler’s difficulties in luring in a big fish for the firm were equally and inspiring. It was apparent from her initial appearance in the episode that life in doc review has been hell on earth. Rhea Seehorn was able to easily convey the general wear and tear all of us go through to make it in our respective fields. The constant rejection, the mindless minutiae, the innumerable smoke breaks. For all our efforts, it appears nothing will result in anything substantial… until that one beam of light breaks through our black mood.
Kim’s hustle paid off enormously for HHM and for a brief moment Howard (Patrick Fabian) is reminded of the potential he saw in Ms. Wexler and why he was grooming her to become a future partner. Her time in the sun was short-lived as Hamlin wasn’t impressed enough to bring her back to the adult table.
Damn. That’s cold blooded, man.
AN OFFER HE REALLY CAN’T REFUSE
After a considerably impressive episode in “Rebecca”, it concludes with a fantastic cameo by Mark Margolis as a very spry and intimidating Hector Salamanca. “Tio” was quite aware that Tuco went out of control during his confrontation with Mike and legitimately apologized for his actions. However the elder Salamanca – a feared enforcer for the Juárez Cartel, mind you – calmly yet forcefully suggested to Ehrmantraut that he take some of the heat for his nephew’s arrest, in order to shave a few years off of Tuco’s sentence.
Ehrmantraut had at least an inkling about Salamanca’s reputation, given his thoroughness in preparing for a job. Although it was clear he never expected to deal with the old dog as evidenced by his fairly emotional reaction. Like Mike, Hector is a stickler for details and with the cartel’s resources at his disposal, Tio is able to know everything on file about Mike. Everything. If Hector is involved in even the slightest, there’s no question Mike and Nacho are being tailed by the Cartel itself… and that includes their loved ones.
Once more, Mike’s stay in New Mexico takes another dark turn, all due to a single job that was definitely not worth all the trouble he and his family are currently experiencing.
Though everyone appears to have hit rock bottom, the only way for them now is up! Perhaps their climb back to the top will begin in next week’s episode “Bali Ha’i”, Monday at 10/9c on AMC!
Better Call Saul S2E5
As fun and intriguing as the clashes between brothers and Mike’s hardships have been this season, it was refreshing to watch other characters in the spotlight on Saul. Jimmy’s future is a certainty but the secondary and even tertiary characters during his journey to corruption are equally compelling and painfully wholesome in their quirky ways. Unlike their older associates like Hamlin and McGill, they still have a spark of life left in their eyes to go with their bushy tails. Hopefully, they’ll able to persevere through the eventual controversies that Jimmy will be ultimately responsible for designing.