Previously on Better Call Saul, ‘Inflatable’
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Michael McKean, Patrick Fabian, Kerry Condon | Writer: Thomas Schnauz | Director: Larysa Kondracki
Everyone in “Fifi” was touched by a shadow of darkness, be it evoked by avarice, despondency or most especially, revenge. In any case, all paths – intentionally or not – converge upon Jimmy and the irrational, vindictive decisions he continues to make.
THE BATTLE FOR MESA VERDE
A majority of “Fifi” is centered on the between Kim Wexler and her now former employers Hamlin Hamlin McGill. Instead of heeding Jimmy’s advice to pull the rug from under the firm, Kim wants to leave on good terms.
One surprising segment that happened early in “Fifi” was Howard Hamlin’s seemingly genuine admission about wanting to venture out and strike his own path in his early years as an exuberant and optimistic litigator. Alas, he was strong armed into the family firm and trapped in a mundane life of tailored suits, penthouse apartments, luxury sedans and the ear of very influential people. Oh boo hoo, poor Howie.
In all seriousness, Patrick Fabian deftly added a heart to the oft-stoic Hamlin, a man who won’t and can’t allow his true emotions be seen in a professional setting. It’s not even known if Howard even has a personal life; his is a vocation that calls for sacrifice of one’s time and a supreme focus. In the end, based on what he revealed to Kim, it appeared all he’s worked for in elevating HHM are hollow victories that offer him no personal satisfaction.
That isn’t to say this leopard is changing his spots anytime soon. Knowing Wexler is no longer a potential threat, Hamlin quickly goes on the offensive to secure the Mesa Versa contract before Kim boxes up her belongings. Wexler manages to snag Mesa Verde from HHM and her initial success is too surreal for her to accept. If there’s one quality Rhea Seehorn is able to expertly convey through Kim, it’s opening up a tempest of emotions. Here is a woman who’s bound for success no matter where she goes, apprehensive and anxious in allowing herself to feel pride for her accomplishments. Wexler is probably the most dynamic of the Saul characters because of her draw as a determined and strong woman but also exhibits a quiet vulnerability, for Jimmy and in her abilities (despite her prowess).
Wexler’s susceptibility for doubting herself gives a very determined Chuck McGill the smallest window of opportunity to save HHM’s bacon; an irony of massive proportions after the firm was trying its damndest to remove him throughout the first season. In spite of his crippling psychosomatic pain, McGill’s shrewdness and acumen was on full display at the right time, robbing Kim of her biggest (and only) client while effectively crushing her solo practice before it even began.
The pain of the moment is felt by Chuck and Kim in contrasting ways. For a man who has it all career-wise, Charles eagerly jumped at the chance to strike at an employee he appeared to respect, if only due to her association with Jimmy. True, Mesa Verde was an important whale, but HHM could survive without their clientage. Ultimately, the ordeal robs Chuck of all his strength, making him more vulnerable than he’s ever been.
Meanwhile, the daunting task of building her practice from the ground up has become a swift reality for Kim. With no other prospects in sight, a defeated Wexler pondered if what she wanted all this time was a grave error in judgment. Jimmy, lovesick puppy that he is, encourages Kim to stay the course. Other opportunities will arise. If not, knowing McGill, some will suspiciously appear out of nowhere.
A WORLD OF HURT
The stakeout at the Salamanca’s front continues for Mike, who is determined to never lose the upper hand again. While it’s been fun to watch many of the Breaking Bad alum make recurring appearances on Saul, it’s also been refreshing to see Mike take a breather of sorts from being such a prominent B plot. What Thomas Schnauz and others are setting up by season’s end is obviously going to be a pronounced alteration to Ehrmantraut’s retirement plan (as seen in his future, via seasons of Bad).
Although Mike is dead set to turn the screws on Hector and his crew, Ehrmantraut still makes time for granddaughter Kaylee, although he makes her an unwitting accomplice in his shady activities in a rather jocose scene. It’s evident Mike has now become more comfortable in melding both personas – doting grandfather and gun-for-hire – will greater ease. Whereas he felt the need to shield Stacey and Kaylee from the hazards of his “night job” early on, the sobering threats from the Salamancas shook Mike to his core. Never again will they be harassed or imperiled by Ehrmantraut’s slip ups. Better Kaylee be at his side while he fashions a garden hose into a spike strip than worry about who’s shadowing his family on the other side of town.
Ultimately, after spending whole nights learning Hector’s routine and the location of his shop, Mike is finally ready to make an impression the Salamancas won’t soon forget.
While Mike may not have much of anything in common with his daffy counselor, the two are on parallel paths of retribution. Albeit, one employs a skillful and measured head and hand for such endeavours, the other is as subtle as a sledgehammer (or a “chimp with a machine gun”). Thinking outside the box (of legality) as usual, McGill schemes on the fly and uses a few old tricks to turn the situation back to Kim’s favor. Jimmy’s technique with an X-Acto #2 cannot be disputed but if he believes he can get away with the deception he inserted into his brother’s files, he’s in for a rude awakening.
With two episodes remaining, both Mike and Jimmy have possibly reached the point of no return in their recent pursuits. Ehrmantraut is ready for a war but he’s only one man. McGill is quite comfortable with his actions, however that he’s unable to stay mum when it comes to impressing Wexler with his colorful style of practicing law. Will she be able to stay tightlipped once Jimmy’s secret’s out? Signs don’t appear good from the double meaning of the title for next week’s episode, “Nailed”, airing Monday at 10/9c on AMC!
Better Call Saul S2E8 = 9/10