This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 4 Episode 4
People grieve in strange ways, and there’s no timetable for when grief should dissipate. Mike lost his son Matt in Philadelphia quite some time ago, and yet he still carries around the weight of grief, which manifests itself in a quiet, seething anger. You can see it on Mike’s face as Stacey recounts her story about her breakfast-inspired guilt, in his disgust over a lying attention-seeker, in his no nonsense scolding of the Madrigal employees, and watch it boil over as he confronts Gus. Mike may think he’s keeping his grief bottled up tight, but it’s leaking all over every facet of his life.
Mike was given relatively short shrift during Season 3, so it’s nice to see him at the center of “Talk.” There’s seemingly a lot of emotional material left to mine from Mike’s backstory, as well as from the beginning of his partnership with Gus Fring. Gus clearly is upset that Mike did not alert him to Nacho’s plan to kill Hector, but Mike’s a man who’s already lost his son; there’s nothing left to take from him, and therefore, he’s uninterested in games of threat and intimidation. Gus needs Mike’s professionalism, and likewise, Mike needs the catharsis (and money) that can be found in the work opportunities that Gus provides. Just like in his group therapy session, if you want Mike to talk, you might not like what he has to say, but you’ll probably be better off hearing it.
Elsewhere, Jimmy continues to push his feelings about his brother aside by any means necessary. He opens the episode turning down a job offer from CC Mobile, until Kim mentions to Jimmy that she’d like him to talk to a therapist, likely still upset over his muted, nonreaction to Chuck’s letter from last week. Either to put her mind at ease or avoid having to grapple with his emotions, Jimmy calls CC Mobile back and accepts the job, which he almost immediately regrets once he gets to the dead storefront. Bouncing a rubber ball against the wall to pass the time, Jimmy looks like a prisoner in a cell, not a lawyer biding time selling cellphones.
Jimmy then goes to meet Ira to get his payout from the Hummel sell (looks like my Irene theory is squashed). Ira was able to flip Bavarian Boy for more money than assumed, and Jimmy is actually impressed that he was given his fair cut. This is the cementation of trust in a relationship that will extend into the Breaking Bad timeline. Jimmy tells Ira that there’ll be more jobs but Ira lets Jimmy know that he’ll have to call Caldera because he uses a new phone for each job. This causes a lightbulb to go off for Jimmy, who returns to the mobile store and paints an advertisement on the windows appealing to a seedier clientele. “Is the man listening?” is the exact sort of leading question Saul Goodman would ask in one of his attorney commercials.
Meanwhile, Kim spends a day at the courthouse searching for the inspiration to continue with her work or reconnect with the reason that she got interested in the law to begin with. Hoping for a meaningful pep talk from Judge Munsinger, Kim instead gets the advice to stick with Mesa Verde and make a lot of money. Jimmy may be going through an existential crisis after being forced to not practice law, but Kim is going through an existential crisis because she’s being forced to practice, which may be worse. If landing Mesa Verde won’t make her happy, what will? And what does it mean that Jimmy torched his relationship with his brother to land her this client?
Finally, Nacho witnesses exactly how dangerous and horrifying it is to be chess piece in Gus Fring’s larger game. Viktor takes the “missing” product from Nacho’s staged robbery and flips it to the Espinosa gang. Then with Salmanca cousins by his side, Nacho identifies one of the Espinosas’ cars as the vehicle that carried out the supposed robbery. Not waiting for backup, the cousins storm the Espinosa stash house to recover the missing drugs, which they find as suspected.
Nacho, still in pain and largely immobile from his staged wounds, gets involved in the raid, but the look on his face after he shoots a gang member shows Nacho’s not just in over his head, but fully submerged in the shit. Still, his participation bolsters his cover with the Salamancas. Some may be happy to revel in these action beats, but the outcome feels predetermined in a way that never did during BB‘s big action setpieces. Later, Nacho deduces that Gus framed the Espinosas as a planned territory grab, which shows him just how many steps ahead Gus is in front of everyone else. Nacho too proves that he’s sharper than he seems, but that display of intellect could come back to bite him. He ends the night back at his father’s home, who reluctantly allows his son to rest there. The scenes between Nacho and his dad play like many cliched interactions between a parent and a wayward child, but they’re effective because they’re so understated and authentic-feeling.
After last week’s season highlight, “Talk” feels like further table-setting despite the inclusion of the raid on the Espinosa territory, and the cliffhanger with Mike and Gus accentuates that even more. Still, “Talk” exponentially increases the ominous vibe that can be felt surrounding all of our central characters. Like Mike, everyone appears to be bottling up all of their ugly emotions; it’s only a matter of time until the floodgates open.
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.