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Review: ‘Better Call Saul’ Season 1 Episode 7, ‘Bingo’ Makes Us Nervous For the Future

Review: 'Better Call Saul' Season 1 Episode 7, 'Bingo' Makes Us Nervous For the Future

PREVIOUSLY: ‘Better Call Saul’ Season 1 Episode 6, ‘Five-O,’ Reveals Mike’s Biggest Secrets

Case Summary

After spending last week with Mike, we’re back to Jimmy’s world, but that doesn’t mean Mike’s problems have gone away. Time for yet another meeting with Mike’s one-time colleagues from Philly, who get their pilfered notebook back but no answers from Mike, who continues to leave Jimmy in the dark.

But Jimmy’s got plenty to keep him awfully busy; his elder law business is booming, at least enough for him to consider ritzy office space with room not just for a concerence room but also a corner office for Kim to join his new firm. Kim, unfortunately, feels too loyal to Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill: “I literally owe them,” she tells Jimmy in rejecting his offer.

But working at HH&M means continuing to deal with the Kettlemans, who refuse to take the deal Kim’s worked out with the DA that spares them a trial they’ll lose, but will mean some jail time and returning the cash. The Kettlemans’ strategy, though, isn’t the best: They fire Kim, and tell Jimmy that thanks to the “retainer” they paid him, he has to use his legal know-how to clear Craig’s name.

Fortunately for Jimmy, Mike owes him a favor, and, as we saw last week, Mike is a guy who knows how to plan. Thanks to five apples’ worth of spying and some UV spray, Mike’s able to break into the Kettlemans’ house and steal the cash, delivering it to the DA’s office. Jimmy strong-arms them into taking the deal, though it costs him his own funds as well as his dreams of a fancy office and truly investing in himself.

Opening Credits Extreme Close-Up

Is that a back massager? A foot massager? Or something you might purchase at The Pleasure Chest? Maybe we don’t actually want to know the answer.

The Least Legal Move

It doesn’t count as theft if the money’s already stolen. But breaking and entering the way Mike did to retrieve the Kettlemans’ ill-gotten goodies is certainly not kosher.

Remembering What Hasn’t Happened Yet (The “Breaking Bad” Tie-In)

The opening scene, set in the Albuquerque police department, features over a dozen Wanted posters — some of whom looked kinda familiar. By Tuesday morning, I expect the Internet to have analyzed each and every one of the headshots hovering over the heads of Mike and Jimmy and figured out which might be “Breaking Bad” characters we haven’t yet met.

What’s Wrong With Chuck?

“I need to get better,” Chuck tells Jimmy. “I need to be useful again.”

So Chuck is making an effort to overcome his “condition,” which is great news! The less-great news is that he’s just trying to desensitize himself to the outside world’s electromagnetism, rather than perhaps acknowledge that there is something deeply, deeply wrong with him. The great tragedy of his character comes out every time you see the incredible intelligence that’s been handicapped as a result of whatever is wrong with him; not to mention the fact that Chuck is conscious of what this handicap is costing him.

On The Journey From Jimmy to Saul

The more we learn about the man who will become Saul Goodman, the more the question becomes how much of his future persona is newfound corruption, and how much of it is a return to his roots as con man Slippery Jimmy. When the episode begins, he not only shows real dedication to pursuing the practice of elder law, but seems genuinely interested in doing right by Mike at the beginning of the episode. And when he shows Kim around the proposed office space, dressed down and relaxed, he’s maybe the closest he’s come yet to what we might identify as a good man.

And yet the threat from the Kettlemans, to turn him in for accepting stolen cash if he can’t get them cleared of all charges, immediately sets some underhanded plans into motion. The shift only comes as shocking in comparison to the man he’s been all episode, not the man he’ll eventually become.

READ MORE: Watch: Relive Saul Goodman’s Best ‘Breaking Bad’ Moments in Hilarious Supercut

Cocktail Hour

So apparently your classier bingo games serve red and white wine along with the bingo cards. Good to know!

Best Quote

“‘The 25th Hour,’ starring Ned and Maude Flanders,” is how Jimmy describes the Kettlemans as they stare down potential jail time for Craig, and it’s such a pitch-perfect description that it wins here, no contest.

“It’s From a Movie!”

Mike’s stakeout and subsequent burglary of the Kettleman house was set to a score that paid homage to every great ’70s caper film. I could listen to this sort of sexy neo-noir groove all day long. (Update: The track is “Tune Down” by Chris Joss.)

In Conclusion, Your Honor

“Bingo” is a quintessential example of an episode that needs to exist for key plot elements to move forward and set up future storylines but doesn’t necessarily pack a lot of punch. The (potential) resolution of the Kettleman storyline can only be seen as a good thing because, to be honest, it’s gotten a bit stale — especially as Betsy Kettleman grew more and more unhinged. And the other key elements of the story move forward only by inches.

And yet, with that all said, one thing “Bingo” does do very, very well is hint at how much desperation lurks beneath the surface of these characters’ lives — the sort of desperation that could drive ordinary people to tragic or criminal actions. It’s an episode that reengages you with the show’s core cast. It’s an episode that makes you very, very nervous about these characters’ fates.

While there are six three more episodes to go this season, there’s a clear sense that the show has yet to stray from whatever path Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan have set for them. “Bingo” itself might not tantalize, but the implications for next week and beyond sure do.

Grade: B

READ MORE: ‘Better Call Saul’ Review: You Don’t Need Us to Tell You to Watch It

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