PREVIOUSLY: Review: ‘Better Call Saul’ Season 1 Episode 7, ‘Bingo’ Makes Us Nervous For the Future
This week started off in years in the past, with Jimmy pushing the mail cart at Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill, and discovering that he’s passed the bar exam after working in quasi-secret to obtain his law degree. He shares the news with an ecstatic Chuck, who’s still in fine mental health, but his hopes of joining HH&M are dashed by a quick visit to Hamlin, thus giving Jimmy yet another reason to loathe the law firm. (Perhaps the original reason.)
In the present, Jimmy’s pursuit of elder law leads him to what could be a much bigger fish than making hundred-buck wills for little old ladies; a chain of assisted living facilities are overcharging their residents for basic necessities. With help from Kim, he and Chuck prepare to take on a class-action lawsuit potentially worth millions — though Chuck’s stability isn’t a sure thing.
Meanwhile, Mike’s gotten even closer to his daughter-in-law and granddaughter —who need money — inspiring Mike to reconnect with the veterinarian who stitched him up when he first arrived in New Mexico, and is poised to bring Mike into the Albuquerque criminal underworld. Watch out, Albuquerque.
Opening Credits Extreme Close-Up
This week’s episode features an abandoned necktie and a tarantula. (Both of those things make me feel very, very uncomfortable.)
The Least Legal Move
It’s certainly morally shaky, the practice of dumpster diving for evidence of wrong-doing. But the garbage of a nursing home proves to be the most disgusting garbage ever, so Jimmy certainly paid for it karmically.
Remembering What Hasn’t Happened Yet (The “Breaking Bad” Tie-In)
Hey, a POV shot! The opening camerawork, balanced on the front of Jimmy’s mail cart, is the sort of trademark “Breaking Bad” visual flourish we’re only occasionally getting now, but it’s a welcome moment.
READ MORE: Vince Gilligan Talks “Breaking Bad,” Knowing Where the Series Will End and the Spin-off He’d Like to See
Oh, That’s Right, It’s a Period Piece
Mike’s cell phone is comically large — the sort of cell phone that even in 2003 would seem archaic. Nailing the selection of that sort of prop is a tough thing for a period piece that’s only a little bit set in the past, but “Better Call Saul” pulled it off.
What’s Wrong With Chuck?
Everything, for once, might be right with Jimmy’s troubled older brother thanks to the distractions of the Sandpiper Crossing case, he’s more coherent and focused than we’ve ever seen him, and despite one moment of nerves, holds his own against the other lawyers. He’s in fact so focused on the case that he’s able to go outside on his own without immediately freaking out, a watershed moment that may or may not have been undercut by the last shot. (Chuck only dropped the box of files — he didn’t full-on collapse — so fingers crossed, this is a sign of real progress.)
On The Journey From Jimmy to Saul
One of the most important moments in any lawyer’s life is the moment he or she finds out if they’ve passed the bar exam, and here we get to witness Jimmy’s triumph, from the high of getting to surprise his brother with the news, to the low of being told by Hamlin that the firm was not interested in offering him a job.
Meanwhile, dumpster diving might be a Saul-worthy act, but Jimmy did it in the name of not just winning a case, but actually helping people. So it’s hard to really resent him for that.
The Ballad of Jimmy and Kim
We get official confirmation that, at one time, our favorite couple used to do more than sit side-by-side in massage chairs, as Kim plants a big celebratory kiss on Jimmy when he gets the news about passing the bar. But while, in the ensuing years, they clearly made a conscious choice to exist more as friends than lovers, the exact details of their relationship still remain nebulous.
It’s a bit of a shame, to be honest, because the more time Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn spend together on screen, the more I’m rooting for them as a couple, especially because genuine affection between two people feels like water in the desert, in the quiet and lonely world of “Better Call Saul.”
A very dry episode for everyone involved. As Jimmy celebrated with his mail room friends, though, there was a very conspicuous bottle of orange soda present. Honestly, warm tap water would be an improvement over that.
While the average viewer’s understanding of the RICO act might not be massive, it does get summed up nicely by Jimmy: “Interstate commerce is a bitch, huh?”
Runner-up: “Blow my Magic Flute.” Always classy, our Jimmy.
In Conclusion, Your Honor
Easily one of the driest “Better Call Saul” episodes yet, digging far more into the complexities of the legal system than its characters. Some important territory is plotted, including the Sandpiper case (a nice forward step for Jimmy’s elder law practice), and, of course, Chuck’s progress towards real recovery. But beyond the horrifically gross dumpster dive, much of the episode was devoted to people looking at files and questioning “little things.” I appreciated the nuances of this storyline, but one does not watch “Better Call Saul” for its intricate depiction of contract law.
Also, Michael Mando still gets credited as a series regular in every episode, but we haven’t seen Nacho for weeks at this point. No wonder things have felt quiet, as he represented a powerful element of danger that’s been sorely missing. With only two more episodes left in the season, presumably things are about to come to a head. But the calm before the storm is hard to appreciate if you’re not sure a storm is coming.
READ MORE: Bob Odenkirk and the Cast of ‘Better Call Saul’ on the Challenges of Competing with ‘Breaking Bad’
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