This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 4 Episode 6
Is it time to start worrying about Better Call Saul? We’re now over halfway through the latest season, a season that was promised to up the ante considerably by smashing the worlds of Jimmy McGill and Saul Goodman closer together than ever, and yet six episodes in, it feels like Season 4 of Better Call Saul is still resetting the table after Season 3’s shocking finale. If you’ve been following my reviews, my disappointment here might be a little puzzling; I’ve written positively about each individual episode and still stand by my ratings of each one. However, looking at the bigger picture, it can’t help but feel like Better Call Saul is spinning its wheels, even if that wheel-spinning is satisfying when viewed in a vacuum.
Truly, there’s not much to complain about this year on Better Call Saul, it’s just that I think everyone expected something more. Still, on a character level it’s been nice seeing Jimmy and Kim working through their feelings in a realistic timeframe. It may be unclear where their arcs are heading, though it appears that Kim’s finally started to reveal itself this week, but the slow and steady buildup is at least giving Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn plenty to work with.
Seehorn in particular has been fantastic. She can say so much with just a single glance, like when gazing upon a peacefully sleeping Jimmy and the notepad by his side containing his dream logos for their imagined future law firm together. It’s a cute idea, but Kim knows it isn’t practical, just like she knows that she can’t continue working on Mesa Verde alone. She decides to ring up Rick Schweikart and after a productive meeting, reveals her plan to Jimmy; she’s going to join Schweikart’s firm as a partner, that way she can use the firm’s resources to handle the Mesa Verde business while continuing to follow her passion, which is criminal defense.
Though Jimmy obviously wants Kim to be happy, the news is a bit of a blow. Tonight’s cold open was there to show us just how important Kim has always been to Jimmy’s legal plans. Though Chuck was also a chief motivating factor, particularly because of the way that he belittles his brother (always great to have Michael McKean back), Jimmy’s pursuit of becoming a lawyer was also a way to impress and gain the admiration of Kim. If Kim isn’t going to a part of Jimmy’s plan as a lawyer going forward, then he’s certainly going to start indulging his baser instincts, like his phone hustle.
Kim’s news wasn’t the only moment that lit a fire under Jimmy. He gets a call from a relative of Mrs. Strauss letting him know that she has died and that the family needs help enacting her will. For those that don’t remember, Strauss was one of Jimmy’s first clients and the person that helped kickstart his law career with the Sand Piper case. In the phone call, Jimmy displays just how much he cares about his client, recalling information about her grandson and her life. It’s this moment of genuine decency that’s fun to juxtapose against Jimmy’s tough love speech to Howard or his handling of the three punk teenagers by the episode’s end. Jimmy always has these warring versions of himself inside, and the Saul version appears to be somewhat of a coping mechanism or a version of self-protection that comes out whenever Jimmy suffers a professional or personal hurdle.
Elsewhere, Mike strategizes with Gus on how to house the German engineers that will be in Albuquerque under the radar to complete the super lab. I made it plain last week that the genesis of the super lab was one of those prequel-y details that I couldn’t care less about, but the idea of six men in a souped-up bunker for 10 months unable to leave or communicate with the outside world sounds like it could have been a fun little BB-universe backdoor pilot. The episode heavily foreshadows coming problems with one of the men, Kai, so this at least could lead to a fun scene of Mike showcasing why no one should ever mess with him. Mike also apologizes to Stacey for his group therapy outburst. A healthy working relationship leads to a healthy family life for Mike, apparently.
Finally, Gus visits Hector in the hospital, who’s condition is getting worse with an infection. We know where Hector will end up, but this was still our first extended period of time with Gus that didn’t directly involve Mike. We’re treated to a quintessential Gus monologue, equal parts evocative and sinister, about an animal that threatened the fruit he used to eat and survive back as a child. He trapped and wounded the animal, but instead of killing it, he kept it, which serves as a metaphor for his relationship with Hector. Though the outcome to these two men’s story is already known to most, their tangled, tragic, and doomed relationship is still able to muster some powerful scenes.
So there we have it, another perfectly competent episode of Better Call Saul that does little to explain just where we might be heading this year, and unfortunately we’re running out of time. Chuck’s specter has loomed too large over Season 4 and the show has yet to find a new antagonist or obstacle for Jimmy in his place other than the 10-month idle period where he cannot be a lawyer. Usually the saying goes that the whole is great than the sum of its parts, could Season 4 of Better Call Saul be the opposite of that?
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.