Better Call Saul
We had Kim figured all wrong. And so did Jimmy. And that might be the duo’s undoing. Jimmy needs a straight arrow, someone to ground him and keep him honest. If his partner in life suddenly becomes his enabler in crime — a real-deal Viktor and Giselle, a notion nailed on the head by Kim’s rubbing her keepsake Zafiro stopper like a talisman — then they’re both going down in flames, eventually. (Or, perhaps, simply working the same shift at an Omaha Cinnabon.)
For now, Kim is still suiting up for her job heading up banking at Schweikart & Cokley, doing her best Peppermint Patty routine as Paige and Kevin drone on like Ms. Othman’s corporate clones. But that S&C salary has also afforded her the services of fancy associates, whom she has recruited to help blindside ADA Ericsen with a roll call of reasons for cutting Huell some slack. But just as insurance, she sends Jimmy on an eastward-bound bus to Huell’s Louisiana hometown, Coushatta. On the way, he hires passengers to help him forge letters attesting to Mr. Babineaux’s community stature, ultimately mailing them from the Coushatta post office with varying return addresses and some bogus contact info therein.
Upon returning, Jimmy holes up in his nail-salon HQ with his loyal team of student filmmakers (but hey, looks like make-up girl’s been taking acting lessons) and deploys his drop phones, a phony website, and some sound effects to effectively reverse-Jerky Boys Suzanne into submission. It’s an insane plan, but it works, and Kim is turned on. She throws Jimmy into the courthouse’s stairwell wall and lays a fat one on him. Next thing we know, they’re cozying up in bed cracking up over Jimmy’s bayou-boy routine. Not long after, she shows up unannounced at the potential site of his new office (which may or may not prove to be his ultimate Breaking Bad–era digs, though it likely is). They’re sharing a cigarette on the strip-mall sidewalk, arguably neither in a much loftier place than when they’d sneak butts amid the shadows in HHM’s garage, nor worse off. They are where they are, and all Kim knows is that after ten months of seeing what all those years of sleepless nights poring over paperwork amounted to, she wants to be wherever Jimmy’s going next. Don’t be surprised if it’s Kim who winds up picking out Saul Goodman’s signature Constitution wallpaper and inflatable Lady Liberty.
Unfortunately, Mike and Werner won’t be sharing intimate details about their old men over Hefeweizens again any time soon, let alone making plans to, say, start a architectural-and-security firm in their twilight years (a fanboy can dream). Werner just had to go and spill some beans about his big top-secret project in Albuquerque to a couple of kindly souls at the bar, eroding Mike’s trust but also necessitating that Mike keep his distance —much like he had to do with Anita and countless others — to keep him from getting hurt. Werner is seriously bummed, but he should be thankful Gus isn’t more alarmed — for now. Saul is not The Sopranos (if it were, both those pub patrons would be 86’d by now), but it’s also unsentimental at times about telegraphing the fates of characters that never quite make it onscreen in Breaking Bad.
This brings us to Nacho, mentioned in passing in an early Breaking Bad episode but otherwise a new ideation for the franchise as of Saul’s premiere. There’s a tragic Jesse Pinkman vibe (Jesse’s aura is all over this season) to Nacho’s present place in things. He orders guys to sell drugs, gets people high, disciplines when he has to and comes home to a dimly lit, high-tech crypt of a crash pad, tossing out dimes of heroin (or meth or whatever) to strung-out groupies watching home-shopping on his couch. Nacho could probably relate to Kim, bored as he is by getting what he worked so hard for. His scars remind us that he paid quite a price, and that he’ll keep paying it. But he wants a simpler life, no matter the cost. Alas, things just got more complicated with the hotly anticipated (by a certain minority, at least) arrival of Eduardo “Lalo” Salamanca in New Mexico to help stem the tide of losses from lackadaisical dealers and benevolent management. Nacho’s heart sinks. Hector was far from the tip of the spear. Nacho is stuck.
If Nacho doesn’t survive the long haul, it could be an act of mercy. (Though with what appear to be fake IDs for himself and his father in a bedroom safe, maybe he makes an escape less desperate than Jesse or Saul’s.) The cycle of instilled violence has consumed him, and it eventually does Domingo, who’s still too timid to, for example, rip out the earring of a cocky but negligent corner man as punishment. The Domingo whom Walter White shackles in his basement is a brutal man, having battled but lost to preserve his gentler nature, thrashing about with his final breaths. Marco and Leonel, too, were raised to become men guided by callousness and rage by their uncle Hector, and we all know how that turned out for them.
Joy has been stomped out of the majority of Saul’s ensemble like the smoldering end of a Camel Light beneath one’s shoe. Mike is morose, Nacho is nervous, Domingo is doomed, Howard (absent in this episode, but hopefully back again soon) is a wreck, Werner and his boys are acting out with extreme demonstrations of glumness and aggression (settle down, Kai), and Gus is concerned at best about the state of his super-lab. Each of them is mired in darkness that matches their respective, walled-off surroundings. And while some light might be poking through the holes in Jimmy’s future (maybe) office, and he and Kim are brightened by their shared enthusiasm for fine lines, the clouds are gathering, unmoved. We’ll find out soon enough who weathers the storm.
Apart From All That
• At least everything’s coming up Huell!
• Pretty brilliant to subvert expectations for Kim, one of few whose fate is a complete unknown.
For a price, that Zafiro bottle stopper can be yours.
• Ms. Nguyen > Francesca.
• Here’s hoping Werner lives to see his 27th anniversary.
Solid plug for Louie’s Pub & Grill.
• Incidentally, there very much is a Cajun Santa.
• Clearly, Kim had never seen Jimmy’s previous pastor routine.
• If Nacho talked to Werner, he’d know obsessive men never rest.