Better Call Saul Reviews: “Talk” (season 4, episode 4)

Making money legitimately is dull. It’s boring. It saps your soul. You know it. I know it. It sucks. We don’t want jobs. We don’t want to wake up and go to work. We don’t want to spend 40-50 hours a week wishing it were the weekend so that we could rest up for the next 40-50 hour week.

Better Call Saul might cheat a little when “Talk” sticks Jimmy in a cellphone store that’s completely devoid of customers, but it makes its point. Or rather Jimmy, classic film aficionado, makes it when he spends his first day on the job bouncing a ball onto the floor, then the wall, then catching it, over and over again. He’s imitating Steve McQueen when he gets sent to the cooler in The Great Escape. Jimmy sees legitimate employment as imprisonment.

That’s why, in the past two episodes, we saw him decline a job offer but then set into motion a plan to break into that workplace and steal a Hummel figurine. Sure, the figurine earned him more than he would have possibly made for a night’s work at a legitimate job, but that’s beside the point. (He even dismisses the money Chuck left him, which was a similar amount, as paltry.) What matters is that the thrill of doing something wrong is what he enjoys.

I was surprised last week that Ira didn’t give Jimmy shit for miring him in a dangerous situation, but I probably shouldn’t have been. Ira loves this stuff, too. They each need to make some money above board, but that’s not where their heart is, or where it could ever be. The dollars are nice. The fact that they don’t have to work soul-sucking 9-to-5s to make those dollars is nicer.

Jimmy will spend his money and never think about it again. But he’s always going to remember showing up in the middle of the night to release the parking break on somebody’s car so Ira could get out of the office. That’s what mattered. Life isn’t money. Life is experience.

And so, here, when Jimmy gets the bright idea to prey on criminal paranoia to drive traffic to his store, sure, we’re getting a glimpse of Saul. But we’re also fleshing out the Jimmy we already know. Whether he’s digging through dumpsters to help a client or buying up commercial airtime without permission to help his law firm, Jimmy bucks tradition.

Previously, it was easy to see why he’d do this; his bosses and associates might bristle, but in each case his gambit worked. Jimmy has a knack for knowing when a shakeup is warranted, whereas most of the professionals in his universe don’t.

But now, with “Talk,” I think I have a greater sense of why he behaved that way in earlier episodes. The fact that his gambits were successful might only be incidental. What really mattered is that doing things by the book bores the shit out of him. Jimmy’s shakeups were necessary to keep him interested. The moment things settle into routine, Jimmy starts bouncing that ball, wondering how the fuck to break out.

I’ll bet right now that his latest window-painting gambit will work. And I’ll bet even more confidently that Jimmy couldn’t care less. His thrill is painting the windows without permission in the first place. He knows this isn’t what anyone else in his position would do. That’s why he does it.

“Talk” is probably my favorite episode of this season so far. It isn’t the funniest, the most exciting, the smartest, or even the most interesting episode. But it’s very successful at revealing character, and helping us to understand the things we’ve already seen.

And that, I think, is a bit of a passive theme here, as evidenced by the scene that gives this episode its name.

I’ve complained about Mike’s unclear role in this show, and I could do it again. (In fact, I’m sure I will!) But “Talk” used him exceedingly well.

We open with a scene that is both a flashback and a flashforward. First, we see an out-of-focus man sawing wood and laying concrete. In a bit, a child gets to scrawl his name before it dries. The angle changes, and we see that the kid is Matty…Mike’s son. We just saw Mike and his little boy. Then we flash forward, beyond most of the events we’re about to see happen in “Talk,” to Mike at his church group.

“You wanted me to talk,” he says. “I talked.”

What story did he tell? We’re led to believe it had something to do with the flashback…and it did, but not in the way we probably expected.

Mike isn’t the kind of person to open up to anyone, least of all in a group setting. But whatever he said shocked or disturbed the group into silence.

And, well…why not? Mike must have a thousand true stories that would shock a church group. We aren’t surprised that he’s left a room speechless. We just don’t know what he chose to share.

It takes most of the episode to get us back to that point, and we see finally that he didn’t share anything at all. The flashback wasn’t something he shared; it was something he felt. His daughter-in-law speaks to the group about her fear that she’ll forget Matty. Her late husband. Mike’s son.

So when another member of the group jumps in with his own sad tale of loss, which Mike knows to be fabricated, Mike presses and humiliates him to the point that the man leaves the group, likely for good. (Though Mike isn’t any more likely to come back, I think.)

We started the episode with the suggestion that Mike opened up. We find out later that he kept himself closed as tight as ever, and took out his frustrations on, yes, a liar…but a liar who wasn’t hurting anybody.

Between these two scenes, Mike makes a friendly wager with Anita — someone who seems to be a genuine friend to him — that the man’s stories are bullshit. It’s a sweet moment. It’s actually pretty cute. Mike and Anita make plans to spend time together after the group, and they’re both on the lookout for inconsistencies in the next sob story. This should be fun.

It isn’t fun. Mike gets hurt when the story of his actual son is hijacked, and he ends up in turn hurting a man who was there for support.

We met Anita last season, and in my review for “Expenses,” I said this:

[Mike] bonds with another parishioner, and we see a side of him we’ve never seen before, on either show: Mike with a real friend. […] He lets her help pour concrete, and later listens intently to her story of her missing husband. He opens himself up to her — and to the church — in an unexpectedly warm way. He lets his guard down. He accepts help. He accepts…others. It’s a different Mike. It’s a Mike he might even like being. But it’s not the Mike we lose in Breaking Bad. We know he pushes it away.

“Talk” is the specific episode in which he pushes it away. He takes what could have been an important relationship in his life (take “relationship” in whichever way you like) and destroys it, likely permanently.

His new friend. A group of people willing to support him. A church he was actively helping.

This isn’t Mike. At least, it isn’t the Mike we know. Just like Jimmy isn’t the Saul we know.

These characters are making the decisions that separate them from who they could have been. They each have the opportunity to say, “I’m going to do this right.” And then they each, independently, decide to do this wrong.

Mike and Jimmy have comically little overlap in terms of plot. But in terms of their characters’ journeys, they’re sometimes eerily similar.

Better Call Saul Reviews: “Something Beautiful” (season 4, episode 3)

As much as I come down on Better Call Saul for so frequently echoing Breaking Bad, I do have to confess that I’m part of the problem. I am indeed one of those people in the audience who gets a giddy little thrill out of seeing a familiar face. I smile. My ears perk up. I really hate to admit this, but I pay more attention.

And so “Something Beautiful” reunited us with Gayle, one of my absolute favorite characters from Breaking Bad. Why I didn’t immediately think of him when Gus learned he’d have to find someone to cook product locally, I have no idea. Maybe the mention of the DEA in the season premiere had me primed for Hank, Gomez, and possibly Marie to be the next ambassadors from that show.

Instead it was the perfectly natural — and just about obligatory — appearance of Gayle. I laughed as soon as I recognized him. I was excited. I was happy to see him.

Breaking Bad didn’t keep him around for long. He was the one for whom Gus invested in the superlab, and I expect we’ll catch up to that moment fairly soon. He cooked with Walt for a while, and then was killed by Jesse in one of Walt’s power plays. He sang karaoke. He gave a copy of Leaves of Grass to the man who ordered his death. And that was about all we got of Gayle.

I won’t go too deeply into why I like him, but it does tie into the way this episode opened.

Following on from last week’s murder of Arturo, there’s some cleanup (which conveniently doubles as setup) to be done. Victor and Tyrus stage a hit on the already dead Arturo. They blow out his tires. Shoot up his car. Blast a hole in his head. Then, because it has to look real, they put a couple of bullets into Nacho.

During that scene, right up until its final moments, I appreciated its coldness. Its calmness. Its calculation. This is the way things work. We saw organized criminals organizing their criminal activities. There was no sense of panic; they worked methodically from a comprehensive mental checklist.

And it made me realize that on Breaking Bad, we didn’t get much of that. We always had criminal activity unfolding with varying degrees of complexity, but in almost every instance we were there with Walt or Jesse, or both. Outsiders. Which means we never knew if we were seeing how these criminals actually operate, or seeing how they behave when they’re reacting to the presence of an interloper.

Here, in this scene, all of the participants are insiders. This is their world. One of them is already dead, two of them we know will die, another comes close to dying in this very episode. This is their life. This, specifically, is their life.

Gayle represents the ultimate outsider. Perhaps we’ll learn more about him that will disprove me, but I never saw him as somebody who had an evil bone in his body. He might be a bit of a showoff, but I think he mainly aims to please. He wants to prove his worth, sure, but he also wants people to be proud of him. Both Gus and Walt were in positions of power over him, and rather than bristle at that fact (or bristle for long) he sets about trying to impress them.

I always saw him as being written as the absolute best human being a meth cook could possibly be. He was intelligent, articulate, friendly, accommodating, patient. And I think that’s what made him so fascinating as a character. He was here, in this life, where throats get cut and people get gunned down and bodies are dissolved in acid. But he’s reading poetry and singing showtunes and brewing the perfect cup of coffee. He maintains everything that makes him Gayle.

Compare that to Victor and Tyrus at the beginning of this episode. (And at the end of last week’s.) They’re all in Gus’ orbit. They’re all in (or soon to be in) the same business. They’re all cogs in the same machine. But could their approaches be more different? Could their personalities? It’s such an interesting dichotomy.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Gayle being the one who insisted on cooking meth, though. I kind of always figured that Gus would be the one to pull him in, but here, in fact, Gus pushes him away. I see why. Gus himself just oversaw the brutal and cruel elimination of a problematic element. He likes Gayle, and doesn’t want him to become a problematic element for somebody else.

As we know, Gus eventually relents. And as we also know, Gayle indeed becomes that problematic element.

We know what happens, but I’m genuinely curious to see how we get there.

Better Call Saul is certainly a strong enough show on its own by this point, but the one way in which it jogs a considerable distance behind Breaking Bad is in its use of Mike. In that show, Mike simply didn’t show up unless he had something to do. Where was he when we spent time with other characters? It didn’t matter. He was out there, somewhere, being Mike.

In this show, though, we keep cutting back to him treading water, because he’s one of the major characters. It’s fine; Jonathan Banks is a delight, and my favorite part of this episode might have been Mike’s quiet refusal to even look at the Hummel figurine while Jimmy was expounding on its virtues. But, as great as he is, I find myself wondering every few episodes why he’s even here.

I’ve harped on this before so I won’t waste too much breath on it again, but it’s very strange to have a show with dual protagonists that don’t actually interact all that much. Their paths have crossed, but they’ve never overlapped for long. And this episode opens with Mike (understandably) refusing to be part of Jimmy’s narrative.

That’s fine, and his decision was true to his character. But aside from the fact that the two of them were on Breaking Bad, is there any reason for them to both be headlining, separately, this show?

Mike needs something to do. Shit, that’s a large part of his character, now that I think about it. And I probably would have been happy enough with the Hummel figurine dismissal if we hadn’t already seen the show floundering for Mike’s purpose in the previous two episodes as well. Had he disappeared for a few episodes and then popped up just to blink slowly across a table at Jimmy, that could have been great. Instead he’s almost always around, even when he has nothing to do, so it didn’t register as much more than Banks hitting his contracted number of episodes.

Speaking of Breaking Bad — as we always are, every hour of the day, every day for the rest of our lives — we got to see Ira again!

It’s Ira, kids!

…yeah, I didn’t recognize him, either. Evidently he was the owner of the pest control company that provided cover for Walt and Jesse late in the show’s run. As far as I can tell, he was in one episode. I didn’t remember him. I just watched this episode and I don’t remember him from Better Call Saul, either.

I do have to admit I liked that after he stole the Hummel figurine, he didn’t immediately slug Jimmy or something. As frustrated and nervous as he was, he turned out to enjoy the experience and the two of them seem to bond over how terribly it almost went. That was a neat little moment.

Jimmy didn’t really show us anything new this episode, and that’s okay. The most interesting bit of character work was how easily he proposes to Mike that they enlist Pryce — the pie sitter — to serve as a fence for the Hummel figurine. It’s notable that Jimmy is so fast to take someone who came to him for legal help and rope him into his own illegal activities. That’s a whole load of Saul peeking through.

I’d like to say that he also got a great moment at the very end of the episode, hollowly reading his brother’s suicide message aloud through mouthfuls of cereal, but Kim obviously owned that scene.

He reads more for the sake of it than out of any real sense of interest or investment. It’s there, it’s from Chuck, we’ll see what he says and get on with our day.

But Kim, gradually, perfectly, tragically breaks down. Jimmy isn’t laying any emotion over Chuck’s words; in fact, he’s robbing those words of emotion. But she feels it anyway. She hurts. The guilt comes welling up. Jimmy reads on without feeling and Kim feels enough for both of them.

It was painful to watch, not just because Kim was so believably hurting — God bless Rhea Seehorn — but because this is the rift between them.

As Jimmy hardens into Saul, Kim is still…Kim. They’re drifting apart. I don’t think they’ve hit the point of no return yet, but I do think it’s getting close. Every morning she wakes up, Jimmy’s just a little further away.

It would be nice to believe that she gets out while she can, before it’s too late, before it becomes something that drags her down and won’t let her go.

But I think Nacho’s situation at the beginning of the episode reminds us that that’s not how things work on this show.

We saw how Chuck got out. Heaven knows what’s in store for Kim.

Better Call Saul Reviews: “Breathe” (season 4, episode 2)

In last week’s review, I focused on one story rather than all three that were in the episode, expecting the other two would pick up in “Breathe” and I could talk about them more completely then.

I made the right judgement. As much as I could have said after “Smoke,” it felt a bit end a discussion of Jimmy’s ever-loosening morals to say, “Also Mike did a comedy routine with some idiots we’ll never see again.” Both things happened in the same episode, but it didn’t feel as though they belonged in the same review.

And, sure enough, “Breathe” picks up both of those threads I neglected, but only one of them reaches any kind of real milestone.

Season four began with three major plots unfolding concurrently. The first, and certainly the most important to this show rather than as setup for Breaking Bad, was the aftermath of Chuck’s death. This plot involves Jimmy, Kim, and Howard, and was the focus of “Smoke.”

But we also had the impending fallout from Hector’s heart attack, which involves a number of characters but is mainly centered upon Nacho and Gus for now.

The third and simplest of these was Mike’s security consultation of a Madrigal facility. We’ll deal with this one first, as it’s the one that’s advanced the least and, I’d argue, has revealed the least.

I don’t intend for that to sound dismissive — even if I guess it is, in one sense — because Mike’s consultation was fantastic. It was an excellent example of the kind of long scene Better Call Saul does (and Breaking Bad did) so well, opening at a point of confusion for the audience and gradually layering in context until you can understand what’s happening, allowing the “reveal” to come organically.

This was fun. I’ve gushed many times about my love of Jonathan Banks playing Action Grandpa, but I think this is the first time we’ve seen Mike employ his particular set of skills toward expressly comic ends. Nobody was in danger, nobody needed protection, nobody needed to escape. Mike’s background as a cop goes a long way toward justifying his immense capability in terms of offense and defense, but this was a nice chance to see — without any distraction — that his powers of observation are just as sharp.

This week Lydia meets with him and tells him to back off, but he doesn’t. It’s a nice exchange and Laura Fraser is a welcome presence, but I don’t think we learned anything there that we didn’t already know. Mike likes money, but only if he earns it. When he received that check for doing nothing last week he got right off his ass and did something. That’s about it.

I suspect the show is just killing a bit of time with that character until he needs to do something important. No real progress here, but it was fun jogging in place for a while.

The Hector thread is the one that really moves forward in this episode. It’s becoming more and more likely that Nacho’s pill-swapping scheme is what results in Hector’s eventual paralysis. I wondered at the end of last season if it would turn out to be another fakeout, like Mike with his sniper rifle. Better Call Saul can toy with our expectations — or rather foreknowledge — in a way that very, very few shows can.

And, hey, it still might. Or maybe I’m just hoping we get to see a little more of Hector being menacing. He spent so much of his Breaking Bad time in a wheelchair that I’ve really enjoyed Mark Margolis giving a more thorough performance of the character.

“Breathe” ends with what I think was one of the best scenes Better Call Saul has given us so far, and yet it still wasn’t the best scene in the episode. (More on that in a bit.) Nacho and Arturo, representing Hector, meet with Victor and Tyrus, representing Gus. Gus’ crew attempts to shortchange Hector’s. After some loaded silences and implied threats, Gus’ crew gives in and Hector’s crew gets their full cut.

Nacho and Arturo walk away, and we see figures approach them from between two Los Pollos Hermanos trailers. I surprised myself by saying, “Oh, shit,” out loud. It’s Gus with his boys. He puts a plastic bag over Arturo’s head and lets him slowly suffocate.

Pretty intense on its own, but it throws the interpretation of the previous scene into much more interesting places. Victor and Tyrus never meant to shortchange Nacho. They — and Gus — were testing him. Seeing how far he’d push. Seeing what he was made of. Seeing how he’d behave when he thought the big guys weren’t looking.

Tyrus tells him to take what they’re offering or to leave with nothing. What Nacho does reveals who he is, and how valuable he’ll be to Gus in the future.

Nacho is now under Gus’ thumb. He can ostensibly work on behalf of the Salamancas, but it’s Gus he’ll need to answer to. The fact that he pushed back against Gus’ men and got his full share might be the only reason he’s alive. Had he let himself get stiffed, Nacho wouldn’t be any more useful to Gus than Arturo was.

And so Nacho is trapped. He cannot serve two masters, and yet that’s exactly what he’ll need to do from this point forward.

Unlike the rest of the big players in this thread — Gus, Hector, Tuco, the cousins, Victor, Tyrus — we don’t see Nacho in Breaking Bad. His story has an unknown point of termination. He might get out — as he promises his father in this episode — or he might get taken down. We saw a number of characters get offed just so another character could make a point in Breaking Bad. We didn’t know any of them nearly as well as we know Nacho. Better Call Saul has seen to it that even a potentially senseless death would have meaning.

Personal prediction? I think the DEA gets him and he provides the information that leads them to Tuco in exchange for his freedom or a slap on the wrist. That’s based on almost nothing, though, so don’t go betting on it.

And, hey, speaking of the DEA, was that Marie Schrader working as the receptionist at the copy shop, standing in front of an appropriately purple wall? She had no lines so she wouldn’t have been in the credits, but that’s what I think I saw…and the episode ends with a suggestion that we haven’t seen the last of that place…

Actually, Jimmy stealing the figurine could somehow factor into Marie’s kleptomania…

Okay, that’s enough jumping ahead.

The big story in the previous episode was Jimmy’s reaction to Chuck’s death. He allowed Howard to shoulder the blame, and almost immediately lit up again. He remains bright and cheery — at least outwardly so — in “Breathe,” but it doesn’t feel the same. There was something about his sunny demeanor in the opening scene as he made breakfast that made it feel far more like I was watching Saul Goodman than Jimmy McGill. It felt a little phonier. A little more calculated. Just a bit artificial.

I could be wrong, and reading into something that isn’t there, but Kim picks up on something, too. So much so that she unloads on Howard later that day. And…well, maybe she has a point. I absolutely believe Howard has good intentions. He’s still a lawyer, a businessman, a professional, but he does have a heart. When he told Jimmy he believes Chuck’s death was intentional suicide, I’d bet he really did think it was the right thing to do.

Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t.

But Kim sees that Jimmy’s just slightly “off,” and she blames Howard for being insensitive. Or, rather, she screams ruthlessly and emotionally at the man who until recently was her employer. (And who, it must be said, has lost his friend, mentor, and partner, and is blaming himself for it.)

It was great. It was an important scene. Rhea Seehorn has been the most consistent highlight of Better Call Saul so far, and the way in which she will fight for Jimmy is…


…it’s the saddest fucking thing imaginable.

Kim is capable, competent, loyal, intelligent. And she’s throwing her support behind a man who is gradually shedding his humanity, who is creeping by the hour toward the repulsive alter ego that will replace Jimmy forever.

I don’t know that anybody’s ever fought for Jimmy before. His father refused to believe Jimmy was stealing from the family store, but a flashback in season two’s “Inflatable” showed us that that may not have been the problem anyway.

Jimmy’s lived a life surrounded by people who either coddle him or condemn him, and associated through much of his life with other thieves and grifters.

Who was there to fight for him? Who was there to convince him he was worth fighting for? Who saw him as a human being? As someone who deserved to be lifted up rather than reacted to? Who knew and understood his past and still believed there was a place for him in the future?

It’s Kim.

Only Kim.

Season three was Chuck’s story. It was a long, frightening march over the event horizon. He’s gone now. He isn’t coming back.

Which leaves season four free to focus on peeling Kim away next.

My heart hurt watching her yell at Howard. Not just because the man didn’t deserve to be harangued for what was at worst poor judgment, but because the woman who harangued him did it on behalf of Jimmy.

Because she cared that fucking much about Jimmy.

And Jimmy leaves her in bed that very night to step outside and plot a petty burglary of a Hummel figurine.

He’s sliding away from the most important thing he’ll ever have, and toward a whole lot of shit he’ll wish he never touched.

Better Call Saul Reviews: “Smoke” (season 4, episode 1)

I skimmed an interview with Peter Gould before the premiere of Better Call Saul (I was trying to avoid direct spoilers) and he mentioned that he toyed with the idea of jumping ahead in time after the end of season three. In fact, they toyed with that idea a few times already on Better Call Saul, and did the same when writing Breaking Bad. But each time, they realized there were still stories to tell right where they were.

I’ve said before that my main issue with the final stretch of Breaking Bad was its willingness to jump ahead in time. In any other show, that would neither have mattered nor registered. Breaking Bad, though, spent the vast majority of its run moving deliberately from point to point. We followed every step from A to B to C, so that we could trace not so much the workings of the plot, but the evolutions of the characters.

We didn’t jump from A to C; we watched every painful moment of the characters changing along the way. Loosening their personal moralities. Rationalizing their increasingly appalling behavior. Altering the way they see themselves, and the way others would see them.

Jumping from A to C might have still given us a good show. It’s given us many great shows. But it wouldn’t have given us Breaking Bad.

I think it’s okay that the Better Call Saul writers sat down in a room and wondered whether or not they should leap ahead, but I’m relieved they didn’t. Moreso than Breaking Bad was, Better Call Saul is a specific (if sometimes unfocused) story of personal change.

Jimmy McGill to Slippin’ Jimmy to James M. McGill to Saul Goodman to Gene Takovic with probably a few other incarnations yet to be explored.

Jimmy’s story is inherently a story of change. So was Walter White’s, but in Breaking Bad there was another hook for the narrative and marketing to hang upon: how far will a dying man take his dangerous scheme?

I challenge you to provide a similar surface narrative for Better Call Saul. There isn’t one. We started this show at point A, and met Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad at point C. To skip B is to skip Better Call Saul.

When the idea of this spinoff was first bandied around — a Saul Goodman prequel — I was willing to believe it would be worth watching. I was willing to believe it would be funny and well acted and well written. I wasn’t really willing to believe it needed to exist. After all, what story could it possibly tell? The story of how Saul Goodman came to like money?

And, of course, nothing (or very little) of what we see in Better Call Saul was in anybody’s mind when they were writing for the character in Breaking Bad. So much more the achievement, then, that this show has found not just a story worth telling, but one so unpredictably mired in and driven by tragedy.

It’s not the story of how Saul Goodman came to like money. It’s the story of Jimmy McGill slowly, agonizingly, terrifyingly losing his grip on his own humanity.

I love Jimmy. I love Saul. But I love Saul as a character, as comic relief, as often the sole buffer between enjoying Breaking Bad and being overcome with despair. By contrast, I love Jimmy as a human being.

I think it’s fair to say Jimmy McGill is a good person. Not a great person, but a person with a heart. A person who cares. A person who feels remorse.

He’s a person capable of so much. He’s cunning, clever, resourceful. He’s sweet. He’s motivated. He’s charming.

He has all of the qualities we typically associate with the hero. Better Call Saul is the story of how (and why) he instead became the villain.

That may sound a lot like Breaking Bad, but I think it takes a supremely inattentive viewing of that show to believe Walter White started out as anything like heroic. Breaking Bad did a great job of layering in from the beginning the fact that Walter White was kind of a piece of shit.

Jimmy McGill, by contrast, wasn’t. He was an opportunist. A bit selfish. He had a checkered past. But within the confines of this show, he’s done very little but try to build himself up legitimately. To rise above his station. To become the person by all rights he should be.

But life holds him back. It pulls him down. Walter White was dealt a bad hand in terms of the cancer, yes, but how he responded to it, the help he refused, the path the followed, the life he chose not to abandon when the cancer went into remission…well, those things were his decisions. Jimmy McGill faces blow after blow. He doesn’t face one (admittedly large) tragedy and willingly throw his humanity away…he’s gradually worn down. He’s slowly beaten. He’s dragged away from where he wants to be toward where the universe has decided he will be.

That’s Jimmy McGill.

And that’s why I think the strongest indication that he’s becoming Saul Goodman happens in this episode, when Howard Hamlin blames himself for Chuck’s death…and Jimmy lets him.

We’ve seen Jimmy wear Saul’s clothes and use Saul’s name, but I think that’s the first time he’s shown us the blackness of Saul’s soul.

Kim blames herself. Howard blames himself. Jimmy learns that he’s actually the one to blame, if anyone is, and he feeds the fish. Makes some coffee. Lets somebody else take up his cross.

And that’s what we miss if we jump ahead in time. We miss Jimmy McGill sitting on the couch and Saul Goodman standing up from it.

Note: iTunes seems to have made some kind of change between last season and now that prevents me from taking screengrabs. Even Print Screen doesn’t work; I just get a black rectangle. Way to punish me for not pirating, Apple. Anyway, the odds are good I’ll just have to rely on AMC’s boring official episode photos this season. I’m probably more disappointed than you are, but it was nice to pick the moment of each episode that actually resonated with me, rather than the one AMC thinks should have. For the record, this review would have featured Jimmy smiling after feeding the fish.