Better Call Saul 406
Better Call Saul season 4, episode 6 is the second Nacho-less episode in a row. Those who are fans of Nacho should be glad he’s getting a break to rest up and recover, because there’s a lot of crushing and smashing in this Piñata episode, both figuratively and literally.
But first, I have to talk about the flashback intro that gives us a lot of enlightening details about Kim and Jimmy’s past, both together and separately. Here are some of my observations:
- Their shared love of movies seems to be one of the things that brought them together. Here we see them organizing an office pool based on the Oscars.
- Kim worked in the mailroom while she went to law school paid for by HHM. We probably already knew that, but it bears repeating: she sees herself as someone who’s wanted to be a lawyer since probably before she met Jimmy, and he came to his desire for a career in law a bit later.
- Kim idolized Chuck, though he doesn’t know her name. She’s managed to fill herself in on the details of his case while assembling binders about it in the mailroom.
- Jimmy and Chuck hardly seem closer than Kim and Chuck, except that Jimmy calls him Chuck and Kim calls him Mr. McGill.
- Could Kim’s excitement and admiration of Chuck and his profession be the reason Jimmy decided to become a lawyer? Is that why he sneaks into the HHM Law Library?
Kim Crushes Jimmy’s Plans for Wexler-McGill
Jimmy is on the phone with sign makers, getting prices for bigger and better signs for the bigger and better Wexler-McGill law firm he’s planning to launch with Kim in just over 9 months. He probably figures they can look for a location and do some of the preliminary work toward the end of the year during which he can’t practice law, as long as he’s not actually doing lawyering until the time is up. Get the sign designed, get the office painted and furniture set up, Kim can even move in and start using the office, and they’ll unveil the sign on the day after the year is up.
But Kim crushes his dreams by announcing that she’s been offered a job with Schweikart & Cokely. We know she saw Jimmy’s logo drawings and it looked like her reaction was that Wexler-McGill didn’t fit with her plans. She was struggling to focus on Mesa Verde paperwork, fighting the urge to open the PD folders instead, and she’s trying to figure out a way to have her cake (the PD work she finds fulfilling) and eat it too (fulfill her obligations to Mesa Verde and earn the hourly billing that goes along with that). Then Jimmy admits he’s decided not to call the therapist, saying “navel-gazing isn’t going to get me where i need to be.” Jimmy thinks he needs to be moving forward, but I think Kim isn’t willing to move forward with a Jimmy who refuses to get help dealing with his grief.
She doesn’t tell Jimmy that the banking division thing was her idea, and it seems just a bit like a shortcut — much less work and less financial risk than hiring a team of lawyers and paralegals who can do the banking work while she defends the downtrodden. Jimmy had a mild panic attack and has to excuse himself, pretending he has a sudden need to use the rest room.
Howard Seems Crushed by Setbacks
Jimmy visits HHM to get his settlement check, which Howard said he would have been happy to mail. In response to Jimmy’s questions, Howard admits, “we’ve had some setbacks.” Jimmy immediately wants to know “What’s the plan?” He can’t believe Howard isn’t fighting to save the business Chuck built. Jimmy seems more worried about the fate of HHM than he was for his brother. The creators of Better Call Saul used up their whole season’s quota of “strong language” in this one scene. Jimmy tells Howard to stop wallowing and Howard lets loose with an F bomb.
This scene reveals so much about what each of these men find important and how they each deal with life’s setbacks and losses. It also shows how important Chuck was to the firm — maybe HHM just can’t survive without the illustrious Charles McGill.
Gus Smashes Hector with his Words
Gus is told Hector’s infection is serious and maybe life-threatening and he cuts short his meeting with Mike to go pay a visit to his rival, who is still unresponsive in his hospital bed. Remember, the doctor from Johns Hopkins told everyone Hector may be able to hear people and that talking to him will stimulate his brain. Gus is hoping that is the case, and if anything will stimulate Hector to wake up, it’s the story Gus tells him.
We learn some things about Gus: he grew up very poor (presumably in Chile) and was one of the youngest of several brothers. He watered some kind of fruit tree and it manage to grow to the point that they were able to sell some of the fruit, but then some kind of wild animal destroys the remaining fruit and Gus wants revenge. He sets a snare but the animal is only wounded – and he waits for what would have been a very long time for a 7-year-old, and instead of killing the animal, he kept it to allow it to suffer.
Gus then tells Hector the point of the story. “I believe you will wake, Hector.” He’s waiting, intending to make Hector suffer instead of giving him a quick and merciful death. And the show creators do the unexpected (or maybe we should have expected it). They show us Hector’s hand on top of the blanket, and we’re waiting for it to twitch, for Hector to move that index finger that becomes so expressive in Breaking Bad days. But we wait, and the hand remains still and motionless. Maybe we’ll see Hector wake up and move his hand — on next week’s episode.
Mike Is Running an Impressive Operation
Gus seems to think that Werner and his work crew can live in two modular homes set up inside a warehouse far away from the other corporate properties Gus owns. Mike sets him straight, telling him they need to provide some distractions for the men during their off-hours. There’s no smashing or crushing here — Gus has a seemingly limitless budget to provide comfortable digs for Werner and his crew. Mike has earned whatever Gus is paying him, setting up security that seems expensive and state-of-the-art.
Later we see Werner and his workers arrive. Most of them seem impressed with the setup, though one man named Kai seems to be a bit of a troublemaker. He points out the one form of recreation Mike was unwilling to supply: female companionship for the men. Werner assures Mike that his group are good guys and that even Kai will shape up once the work starts, but Mike makes sure the security guys are keeping a close eye on Kai. We won’t be surprised if he puts Mike’s security measures to the test in future episodes.
Jimmy Threatens to Smash the Punks
The last scene shows us the reason for the episode title. Jimmy manages to show the street punks who’s boss. He crosses a line we haven’t seen him cross before, threatening violence if these kids cause him trouble again. With the help of Huell and Man Mountain, characters we’ve seen before, the punks are hung upside-down from the ceiling of a piñata factory. They are terrified and promise anything to keep Jimmy and the goons, who are wearing ski masks and destroying piñatas with baseball bats, from smashing them.
The punks are scared, and we are scared, too. Jimmy doesn’t hurt them, there’s no blood and no broken bones, and while Jimmy may have accomplished his goal of getting the punks to leave him alone, he has definitely sunk to a new low point morally.
Some Interesting Details
Here are a few other details from Better Call Saul, season 4, episode 6:
- Jimmy contacts the Vet to arrange for use of the piñata factory, and the vet asks about the health of the goldfish.
- Mike makes up with Stacey, though he stops short of actually apologizing. She knows him well enough to realize this is the best she’s going to get, and agrees that he can pick Kaylee up, calls him Pop and welcomes his help. But he says its probably better if he doesn’t call Anita. And considering what we know about his fate in Breaking Bad, Anita is lucky to be spared being widowed by a second unsolved disappearance of her significant other.
- We have a clue about what forced Jimmy to practice law under the name of Saul Goodman: the name McGill is associated with Chuck, and Jimmy now doesn’t want anything to do with that name. The nephew who calls Jimmy about his aunt’s will make the name connection and Jimmy says the name is a coincidence. He is not willing to own up to being related to Chuck. I’ve always thought that Jimmy could legally change his name but if James McGill was legally not allowed to practice law, using the name Saul Goodman would not be enough: the New Mexico bar association would find out. So my conclusion is that Jimmy was not legally forced to change his name. He changed the name for marketing purposes, not legal ones.
I need to talk about Kim and Chuck. Kim’s clear admiration for Chuck reminded me of a scene from a past season. It was an episode or two before the one when Chuck tells Kim what Jimmy did with the Mesa Verde paperwork and Kim berates Chuck for the lousy way he treated his brother. The scene I’m talking about gives us a clear motivation for Kim’s actions. Kim has worked through the night at HHM and is on her way out, and Chuck has come in early to work before everyone else gets there and turns on all the electric devices. He says to Kim, “How about some coffee?” and Kim says, “No, thank you.” But Chuck clarifies things — he’s not offering, he’s asking Kim to make him coffee, using his sensitivity to electricity as an excuse. Kim is no longer someone who works in the mailroom; she’s a lawyer and she doesn’t consider making coffee to be part of her job description. She’s offended that Chuck would even ask. Seeing how she idolized him when he was at his professional prime makes me realize what it took for her to be able to put Chuck in his place.
We’re seeing the beginning of the final conversion from Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman, and we’re hoping to get some clues about what happens to Kim. What are you excited to see in next week’s episode? Let us know in the comments.
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