This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 2 Episode 6
Last week’s Better Call Saul was a refreshing change of pace because it spent time focusing on Kim. We saw Kim’s determination, skill, and resilience as she willed herself out of doc review and back into an office at Hamlin Hamlin and McGill. Kim didn’t place blame on anyone else or use tricks or cons to get out of the doghouse, she worked hard and did things the right way, something Jimmy could never do.
This week’s episode works as a coda, spending more quality time with Kim, season two’s MVP. As I said, Kim’s worked her way out of the basement and back upstairs, but she’s still battling Hamlin’s cold silences and inconsiderate requests. She may be the rock star attorney that brought in a quarter million in billings, but she’s still faced to go argue a losing battle without her boss in her corner. Just like Chuck, HHM’s opposition in the Sandpiper case, Rick Schweikert, notices Kim’s mettle and tries to woo her with a too-good-to-be-true job offer.
It’s here where Kim’s story mirrors Jimmy’s. When faced with an offer to vastly improve her life, Kim postpones the decision by getting herself into some trouble, setting up a con. She calls Jimmy for the first time in days when she’s got a “fish on the line,” and the pair once again bond over misleading some jerk with deep pockets. Perhaps looking at Jimmy, seeing that his new opportunity did nothing to solve his restlessness, is what’s giving Kim pause before she decides to jump ship at HMM. Jimmy may have a new office, apartment, and car, but his cup holders are too small to fit his mug; there’s always something new to be upset about.
Once again, I really enjoyed spending time with Kim, even if her and Jimmy’s story moved only intermittently. Elsewhere, the drama in Mike’s life turned up, with his story flirting more and more with the Breaking Bad mythos. I said last week that though I knew many fans would love to see Hector Salamanca and more of Breaking Bad’s characters turn up, I felt that the reliance on Breaking Bad cameos was a hindrance to this show. I said that one appearance by Salamanca would open up more, and that fans would be less concerned with the transformation of Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman, and more fixated on what Breaking Bad heavy they could expect each week.
“Bali Ha’I” keeps the trend going by showing us Leonel and Marco Salamanca, also known as The Cousins. The suited twins from Breaking Bad were a malevolent force on that show, and here, all it takes is an appearance in the distance from the pair to make Mike question the safety of his family. He arranges to meet with Hector and once again remains tough in the face of intimidation, gouging Hector for $50,000 before he accepts the deal to take responsibility for Tuco’s gun.
Some will find the standoff between Hector and Mike to be the episode’s best moment, but it only echoes beats and situations that we already covered in Breaking Bad. In my eyes, the more interesting moment comes when Mike offers Nacho $25,000 off of principle that he didn’t finish the job with Tuco; his half-measure didn’t work. This pairing is interesting, evolving, and Nacho is still somewhat of an unknown player in this saga. Exploring Nacho and Mike’s tense business relationship is more important to me than reliving Breaking Bad’s highs. Right now, Mike’s side story feels almost like a completely different show. Honestly, it’s like Death Wish tacked on to a character driven legal drama. Somehow, I’d like to see the writers bring Mike and Jimmy’s worlds back together.
Besides a new job offer and a couple of sharp-dressed killers being introduced into the proceedings, this episode of Better Call Saul was pretty uneventful, yet still entirely enjoyable. Though I’d like to see more of a plot materialize for Jimmy in the coming weeks, I’m content to see these characters become more fleshed out.