This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 4 Episode 7
I expected fireworks. When interviewed ahead of the premiere of Better Call Saul Season 4, Bob Odenkirk, Peter Gould, and Rhea Seehorn all teased the creeping influence of Breaking Bad ‘s world and the introduction of a massive, previously unseen heavy that promised to shake-up Jimmy McGill’s life as we’ve come to know it. Perhaps they were playing misdirection. There’s been plenty of smoke, the Salamanca cousins’ raid was as violent as we’ve gotten on this show, but no grand display, and still no Lalo after seven episodes.
So, if Season 4 isn’t about the criminal underworld wrapping Jimmy in its clutches, then what’s it all about? “Something Stupid” finally makes the answer to that question clear: it’s about the end of Jimmy and Kim. Since Kim never appears in BB, many have feared that her exit from Jimmy’s life would be something intense or dramatic, but “Something Stupid” makes it look like it could just be a natural case of two people drifting apart. They’ve never shared a particularly warm relationship, but in tonight’s cold open, they seem as distant as ever, highlighted by the canny use of split screen. You’d think I’d be immune to the use of the montage, Gilligan and co.’s signature move, but it still feels exciting every time one hits the screen. Both partners are locked into their respective hustles, one on the right side of the law and the other slightly too close to the dividing line.
As days turn to months, Kim becomes accustomed to the life that being a partner at a prestigious law firm provides while Jimmy gets a lot of use out of his track suit flipping phones. I usually find time jumps to be lazy narrative devices, but I’m thankful that we have fast-forwarded through Jimmy’s holding period as it wasn’t particularly bearing the best fruit in episodes one through six. Jimmy’s reinstatement of a lawyer is a month away, but no matter how excited he gets about the prospect of a modest office space and continuing legal work, he realizes upon visiting Kim’s office that he’ll never have what she’s been able to achieve. And for Kim, she used to seeing Jimmy as someone personable and fun, the ideal party date, but when he flashes too hard in front of Kim’s boss, she starts to see the loud, garish side that he’ll later display in his Saul commercials.
The final straw in their relationship looks like it could center on the legal case of Huell Babineaux (has Vince Gilligan ever come up with a better character name than that?). When a plain-clothes cop confronts Jimmy about his “business and clientele,” they get in an aggressive argument about the morally grey behavior that Jimmy specializes in. Huell misinterprets their beef while wearing headphones and strikes the officer. The only person Jimmy thinks to ask to help Huell avoid jailtime is Kim, but going to Kim means revealing his side business peddling phones on the street. As Kim gets the rundown of the situation, you can see her spirit almost leave her body. Sitting in her pristine office, she all but wonders aloud how she’s still associated with someone that could be mixed up in all of this, how she could still be entertaining ideas like tearing down a cop.
The moment things really hit Kim is when she’s dutifully trying to help Huell and Jimmy by proxy by attempting to talk the prosecution down. The prosecutor is just as bewildered by Kim’s behavior as she seemingly is herself, and even works in a mention of the “scumbag ex-lawyer” witness. Seehorn is always great, but she’s at the top of her game here. Her voice and presence demand respect, but her face falters and reveals her misgivings. Watching her spar with the prosecutor reminds me that I’d watch the hell out of a legal procedural starring Rhea Seehorn. Anyway, Kim seems like she’s already realized she has to leave Jimmy and his slippin’ ways behind, but by episodes end is collecting what appears to be school supplies for a “plan” of her own. Could this last stroke of a little creative scheming represent this relationship’s final breaths? After losing Chuck, we know that Kim is Jimmy’s final tether to a respectable life, but she respects herself too much to keep participating in his seediness.
Elsewhere, Mike checks in on the German squad building the super lab. They’re behind schedule and, despite their nice amenities, going stir crazy. After another setback, Mike gets angry with hot head Kai, but Werner insists he’s essential to the team. This story clearly isn’t done yet, but coupled with Gus’ scenes tonight, they’re by far the least interesting aspects of the show this season. I’ve explained previously why the creation of the super lab feels tedious, and Gus’ scene with Hector’s doctor tonight feels the same for similar reasons. The only new wrinkle that’s added is the knowledge that Hector could have had an almost full recovery but Gus prevented it. Hector’s ultimate revenge is made even more sweet. Still, Gus practically breaking the fourth wall and winking at the audience during this revelation cheapens the whole thing.
This was far and away Better Call Saul’s shortest episode of the season and the second in a row missing Nacho, who was providing excellent material at the beginning of the season. His benching just adds to what is starting to become a pacing problem for this show. Fortunately, the tension between Jimmy and Kim keep pacing from being too glaring of an issue this week. Season 3 was about shedding Chuck, and now it’s looking all but certain Season 4 is about dissolving Kim from Jimmy’s life as well, finally bringing focus to a slightly wayward year.
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.