LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Better Call Saul’ Season 2 Episode 6, ‘Bali Ha’i,’ Can’t Find The Perfect Fit
In a flashback to 1973, we meet young Jimmy in his father’s store sneaking a look at not only a Playboy, but his future self, as a grifter cons some cash out of Charles, Sr. Thirty years later, not too much has changed for Jimmy, as he decides that he’s done with Davis and Main and commits himself to the cause of annoying his boss into firing him so he can keep his bonus and go into business for himself… well, himself and Kim, who he asks to join him as a partner in their own little firm. Kim gently turns him down when he admits that he can no longer be anything but himself. But then, after she interviews to join Rick Schweikart’s firm, she comes back to Jimmy with a counter-proposal: "solo practitioners, together." It’s not quite what Jimmy wanted… but it’s close.
Opening Credits Extreme Close-Up
A full drink and a back massager…hey, we’ve seen this one before! In fact, I finally figured it out. Every episode of "Better Call Saul" Season 2 has, so far, re-used credits sequences from the first season, in the same order. For example, Episode 4 of both seasons featured burner cell phones, Episode 6 featured a deserted phone booth in the desert and so, based on Season 1, next week we’re likely to see a tarantula and a necktie. (Not that we didn’t get plenty of necktie action this week.)
The Least Legal Move
No laws were technically broken by Jimmy when he set out on his campaign to get himself fired, but it sure wasn’t all that ethical. That said, probably the shadiest thing done this week — beyond Mike changing his statement regarding Tuco — was telling the film students to forego getting a permit for probably what will be Jimmy McGill’s first real TV ad. Sure, permits are a pain in the ass, but when his crew gets busted for shooting without one, they’ll probably have to… pay a fine? Eh, that’s not so bad.
Oh, Jimmy did steal some pens from Davis and Main to put on his cocobolo desk. But I’m sure they’ll get over it.
Remembering What Hasn’t Happened Yet (The "Breaking Bad" Tie-In)
I… I got nothing, this week. Which is weird, especially given that this season has been particularly dense with both subtle callbacks and major guest stars from the original show. Undoubtedly we’ll get to see more of the Salamancas before the finale, as Mike’s got his eye on them at the end of this week’s episode.
Oh, That’s Right. It’s a Period Piece
Some fun 1973 details from the flashback: King Harvest’s "Dancing in the Moonlight" (the song playing on the radio) was in fact released that year, and the Playboy Jimmy was enjoying was authentic. That issue’s Playmate was Phyllis Coleman, and the cover model was Cyndi Wood. You can buy a copy for yourself on Amazon!
What’s Up With Mike?
Mike might be torn up inside about having to capitulate to the Salamancas’ demands and change his statement to spare Tuco the gun charge. While he now has the cash necessary to help Stacey and Kaylee buy the perfect house in a safe and crime-free neighborhood, things aren’t settled there. The question is, what kind of action will he take?
On The Journey From Jimmy to Saul
In an epic montage that beautifully showcases the series’ technical abilities — music, editing and cinematography all coming together for some real poetry — Jimmy commits to getting fired in truly Saul-ish style, from the loud suits to the bad behavior to some minor casual racism. But the really enlightening moment comes with his board room pitch to Kim, where (with a glance at his old buddy Marco’s pinkie ring) he utterly fails to get through a lie about how he’s ready to play it straight as a lawyer.
"There’s no point in me doing this if I can’t be myself," he confesses to Kim, acknowledging that he can no longer be the person other people want him to be… and that his true nature will always be, to use Kim’s word, "colorful."
Speaking of which, love the attention to detail paid to Jimmy’s suits this week; not just the technicolor explosion of his Saul Goodman suits, but the fact that when he meets with Kim to pitch her the partnership, he’s wearing basically the male equivalent of her standard look: conservative, and very, very blue.
Lady Sings the Blues
Last week, seeing Kim in a Kansas City Royals nightshirt was the closest we’d gotten to knowing that she wasn’t a New Mexico native. This week, we got the closest thing yet to a fully-fledged origin story for our favorite lady lawyer. The most shocking thing about finally getting all this information about the tiny town Kim came from is how well-formed she felt as a character without it. But while we may not know exactly why Kim decided to relocate to New Mexico, we now know where she came from — and why she left.
– Rick and Kim
Bet you were guessing we’d pick the grifter’s advice to young Jimmy: "There are wolves and sheep in this world, kid. Wolves and sheep. Figure out which one you’re going to be." But sometimes, a simple, real character moment like the one above trumps any "American Sniper"-esque insight into human behavior. After a season and a half of "Better Call Saul," Jimmy’s behavior this week wasn’t at all shocking, but Kim’s choices over this episode offered up the biggest twist, and the line above goes a long way in explaining them.
In Conclusion, Your Honor
I’ve lately been reading the comments on our "Better Call Saul" reviews and noticing that an awful lot of people have one major complaint: They think Season 2 is boring. And it’s true that when I write the "Case Summary" section each week, a lot of times it’s the easiest part of these reviews because, frankly, not an awful lot happens, plot-wise, on a week-to-week basis.
That being said, when you look at the execution happening every week, and the way the show doesn’t just plant seeds, but cultivates them, "Better Call Saul" is the furthest thing from dull. This week showcased some impressive growth for our characters, something only made possible by the show’s dedication to letting these people breathe on screen. And if that feels dull to you, well, that’s your loss.