This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 4 Episode 8
Maybe last week’s death declaration was a bit premature. “Coushatta” has breathed new life into Jimmy and Kim’s relationship – and the season at large – by being a textbook example of Better Call Saul at its best. Chock-full of witty schemes, layered performances, tense showdowns, and alternating gut-busting and heart-wrenching scenes, “Coushatta” is a distillation of this show’s key components and feels like a real series turning point.
Part of that sea change feeling comes from the episode’s not-so-surprising last-minute guest, Edurado, or “Lalo,” played by Tony Dalton (Sense8). We don’t get a ton of time with Lalo, but already he feels like the charismatic, formidable foe that this season has been missing. Lalo tells Nacho that it’s going to be “like I’m not even here,” but we know as well as Nacho does that that won’t be the case. This is a Salamanca, after all, and we’ve met enough of them at this point to know that the whole batch is rotten. Also, this is the man that will have the future Saul Goodman shaking in his boots when we first meet Saul in Breaking Bad. There has to be a reason why Saul was so scared. The introduction of Lalo represents a physical hurdle in a season that finds most of character’s grappling with internal problems, like Nacho’s growing discomfort with his line of work.
I’ve seriously missed Nacho. Michael Mando has filled the Aaron Paul-sized hole in my heart by so expertly, subtly displaying Nacho’s growing discomfort and acknowledgement that he’s gotten in way over his head. He may be ripping out earrings at work, but when alone Nacho appears to not have a stomach for the violent life of a cartel member. Just like Jesse Pinkman, he’s built himself a luxurious party pad with the spoils from his work, but it’s left him feeling hollow. He gazes at the fake IDs that he’s had created for him and his father, dreaming about escaping, but locks them back away. Now Lalo is here to complicate things even further for Nacho, another obstacle keeping him from fleeing to Manitoba.
Elsewhere, Mike struggles to keep the super lab construction on-schedule and undercover. The Germans are getting restless, so Mike allows them an evening at the Strip Club. As expected, Kai causes issues at the club, but that’s not the night’s biggest problem. When Mike notices a solemn looking Werner, they travel to a more quiet bar to talk, but a tipsy Werner attracts too much attention. From the minute Werner corrected a patron’s pronunciation of hefeweizen, I knew Mike would be upset at him for calling too much attention to himself. Werner than exasperates the issue by getting in a lively discussion about architecture. Now, we know the super lab will be built without a hitch, but there’s no knowing whether Werner will stick around long enough to complete the job. Mike having to dispatch of this friendly, homesick engineer could be the small story that punctuates his full descent into darkness that started with the death of his son.
Now, on to the good stuff – Jimmy and Kim’s con job to make fan-favorite Huell look like the Santa Clause of the bayou. At the episode’s beginning, Kim seemed totally checked out. The look on her face signaled that she was going through the motions, being as short with Jimmy as possible, doing him one last favor before she pulled out for good and Jimmy was walking on eggshells like he knew it. Hell, Jimmy and Kim were so obviously on the rocks that even Mrs. Nguyen picked up on it and took sympathy on Jimmy. But unexpectedly, Jimmy’s Machiavelian penchant for schemes coupled with Kim’s own letter writing campaign idea turned the trajectory of their relationship around.
Between coaching up the bus rider writing squad, making the long travel to an authentic Louisiana post office, and the “touch” of the army of cellphones (Bob Odenkirk’s Louisiana accent is my new energy source), Jimmy pulls out all of the stops to help Huell, but it’s not just him. Kim brings out a bureaucratic battering ram against the district attorney, employing a full legal team and threatening ACLU involvement to help Huell get his sentence reduced. The fight against a common enemy is so energizing and enticing to Kim that she’s drawn to Jimmy like a moth to a flame. By episode end, she’s saying no to more work from Mesa Verde and standing outside of Jimmy’s potential new office, cigarette back in hand, asking Jimmy if they can do another job. Giselle and Viktor, back at it! Jimmy seems genuinely surprised by this, but it’s undeniable that watching your partner do what they do best is attractive, and Kim remembers how sweet that tequila from their first con tasted, she wants another pull. Maybe that flashback of Kim and Jimmy in their HHM early days earlier this season wasn’t to show that Kim was impressed by legal victories, but by men operating at the height of their powers, no matter the context.
Though I wish some of these revelations and new avenues had opened earlier than episode eight, this was a classic episode of Better Call Saul that has me anxious to dive into the season’s final two episodes. Kim has that cigarette lit again, but will it be extinguished by the time Season 4 is over?
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.