Previously on Better Call Saul, ‘Rebecca’
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Michael McKean, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, Jessie Ennis, Dennis Boutsikaris, Eileen Fogarty | Writer: Gennifer Hutchison | Director: Michael Slovis
The last couple episodes of Better Call Saul shoved a number of leads in hot water; what appeared to be a sure thing pretty much exploded in all their faces and they met the consequences of their actions swiftly and harshly. This week’s episode “Bali Ha’i” – written by executive producer and creative maven Gennifer Hutchison – gives Jimmy and the gang a foothold of sorts during their seemingly unending tumble into lawlessness and immorality. Where lesser men would despair under their circumstances, every one of them is a fighter, in their respective way.
The means by which they confront their personal hardships is when things become extremely surprising.
In many of her episodes, Hutchison is able to whip equal amounts of moxy, profundity and high-noon drama in any character she pleases. While Jimmy suffers the doldrums of menial work at Davis and Main, two of Saul‘s more enduring characters – the stalwart enigma that is Mike Ehrmantraut and scrappy Kim Wexler – are put to the test throughout the episode. Their lives are literally and figuratively at a crossroads and neither one is truly prepared for the upcoming changes to their relatively predictable lives.
FOR THE LOVE OF MOSCOW MULES
Poor Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) continues to be number one on Howard’s shit list, who displays as much emotion as Kanye on the red carpet. After this episode, viewers will have to wonder who exactly is this man that leads this firm. As we were lead by our emotions and loyalty to Jimmy in season one, believing Chuck was the power behind the throne, signs continue to be revealed precipitously that the older McGill might have been the one who had the most heart between the partners. If a man like Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) can saunter among his employees completely devoid of emotion, then flip the switch when needed in the presence of clients, he is a man that cannot be trusted. That’s expert-level sociopathy right there. Perhaps in this moment with her professional life hanging by a thread, Kim has finally become aware of the toxic environment Jimmy has been kicking and screaming about since day one.
Despite being restored to her previous standing in HHM thanks to Charles, Hamlin’s (lack of) reaction to Wexler’s presence has given her a genuine feeling of reservation about her place at the firm. From the moment her character was introduced it was evident Kim was a woman of great promise. Her legal acumen and tenacity didn’t go unnoticed by others. Although he’s lead opposing counsel in the Sandpiper case, Rick Schweikart (reprised by Dennis Boutsikaris) lays a very convincing argument to the disgruntled Wexler about switching firms. This is when Hutchison’s writing is most appreciated: her episodes are some of the better appreciated in Bad and Saul’s runs because she can suddenly and deftly twist any character onto a discordant path in a believable manner.
The writing has been on the wall all this time, but Kim was willingly averting her eyes. No matter how much time and money HHM may have invested in her career (what exactly is the relationship between her and Hamlin anyway?), it’s apparent Wexler hit her ceiling. After her impromptu lunch with Schweikart, she goes from ice tea to Moscow Mules within hours. Reacquainting herself with the Gisele persona, Kim looks to Jimmy as a momentary distraction, a friend to assist in mulling over this new dilemma (while conning a barfly) – or even casting him as a potential scapegoat should her decision potentially destroy her reputation. Who knows? It’s clear no one is above reproach.
MIRA EL TAMAÑO DE SU CAJONES
After a very delicate conversation with Hector Salamanca in “Rebecca“, Mike is keeping his head on a swivel knowing the cartel is shadowing his every move. Ehrmantraut’s cleverness in evading a double tap to the skull is on full display; with a few sheets of carbon paper and a welcome mat, Mike easily handles a pair of “messengers” that holed up in my place. Even though the surly ex-cop is adept at gaining the advantage in nearly every situation, the Salamanca family are a determined bunch, to the point that Tio calls up a pair of nephews who really put the screws to Ehrmantraut.
It wouldn’t be disappointing in the slightest if Mark Margolis had an extended stay in Saul, although the cast is already so large and just beginning to hit their stride. Besides, it’s not Breaking Bad 2.0. However one wouldn’t be remiss in making such an assumption given the number of extended cameos from alums this season. Yes, the Salamancas are a crucial cog in the Bad-verse, plus few believe Mike is actually receiving too much exposure on a show that doesn’t have his name in its title. While some think less is more, the increasingly layered development of Saul’s key players coupled with characters that began with Bad isn’t meant to be a slight on the show’s (in)ability to stand on its own.
Rather, the blend of both series is a cleverly developed portent for what’s to come. Eventually more will the seen from future’s past as Jimmy fully embraces his dark side. In the meantime, sit back – or pull out your sofa bed – relax, and enjoy the multiple existential crises that are unfolding before your very eyes.
The trials of Mike and Kim continue in next week’s episode “Inflatable”, Monday at 10/9c on AMC!
Better Call Saul S2E6
Another feather in the cap of the Saul writing staff, “Bali Ha’i” provided a significant shift in the narrative for the supporting characters. Once more, Rhea Seehorn was like Atlas and carried the weight of the episode on her shoulders. Although Patrick Fabian is not seen as much as his cohorts, what screen time Hamlin is given is used with chilling efficiency. In less than 30 seconds and with barely a word spoken, it’s clear there’s something very dark inside the boss. It’s possible he merely doesn’t like to be disappointed and doesn’t give second chances. He could also hate having his authority overturned by a partner. Either way, Howard has issues no therapist could clear up anytime soon.