This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 4 Episode 9
Jimmy McGill becoming reinstated as a lawyer has to happen, or does it? That’s the major curveball that “Wiedersehen,” the penultimate episode of Better Call Saul Season 4, throws and it’s my own fault that I didn’t telegraph it earlier. I had just assumed that, since its set in stone that Jimmy McGill becomes the criminal lawyer Saul Goodman, Jimmy’s suspension from practicing the law was just a roadblock to delay the inevitable; of course he’d be reinstated after the Season 4 holding period. Wrong.
Jimmy waltzes into his reinstatement interview just as confident as I was that he’d be free to practice law again. That confidence is justified; Jimmy absolutely nails his interview, coming across as thoughtful and down-to-earth while demonstrating his greatest skill as a lawyer, his compassion for his clients. What he doesn’t do, however, is mention his deceased brother at all, which is particularly glaring when he’s asked if anything or anyone in particular influenced his view of the law. Clearly they were fishing for a Chuck reference, but Jimmy denied them of it just as he’s been denying his own complicated feelings regarding his brother’s death. The committee chalks the snub up as a lack of sincerity, which is fair considering Jimmy’s ever-going Eddie Haskell routine, but it’s still a shocking conclusion for everyone involved.
When Jimmy relays the news to Kim in a rage, he immediately displaces his lingering anger at Chuck onto Kim, unloading all of his insecurities about his legitimacy as a lawyer and returning to the idea that Kim doesn’t want to practice law in the same office as him. It’s such a sudden and unwarranted outburst at Kim that she fires back without mercy, rightfully demonstrating all of the ways that she’s supported Jimmy throughout the course of the series. Jimmy accuses her of kicking a man while he’s down, and Kim coldly, yet accurately replies “Jimmy, you are always down.” Jimmy accuses Kim of only seeing him as Slippin’ Jimmy, but truthfully, that’s how he sees himself and it’s how he always has, especially after his falling out with Chuck.
Kim and Jimmy’s fight on top of the parking garage is especially hard to watch because we’ve just gotten used to the pair being back in sync. After the Huell case reignites the pair’s romance and thirst for a good scheme, they start the episode with a con job that helps Kim’s client Mesa Verde expand their location size by about 17 percent. Poor Shirley is helpless to stopping them after fake injuries and a nonexistent child are used to milk some sympathy. After celebrating their victory over some diner food, Jimmy begins fantasizing once again about the pair teaming up, seeing their powers combined. Kim clarifies that she only wants to use their powers for good, but obviously, helping a bank mislead a small Texas town isn’t exactly altruistic. Jimmy makes this point and it helps to aid one of his arguments later on top of that parking garage: Jimmy accuses Kim of only being interested in lowering herself to Jimmy’s level when she’s bored or in need of a jolt of energy. Kim’s moral line is hazily defined at best; she can’t look down on Jimmy’s phone business clientele while also partaking in morally dubious cons to help herself, whether professionally or spiritually.
Thankfully, the harsh words allow both parties to reflect honestly, and when they meet back up at home, jimmy acknowledges that he messed up his chance at reinstatement and Kim recommits herself with helping Jimmy get back to practicing law. However, what if it’s under a different name? Jimmy already was thinking out loud about how all of his clients know him as Saul Goodman, and Jimmy and Kim have just demonstrated how easy it is to pull the wool over bureaucratic institutions. Is it possible that Jimmy McGill never gets reinstated as a lawyer, but Saul Goodman gets his license to practice law in the process? Regardless, this pair of scenes back-to-back packs more of a wallop than perhaps anything we’ve seen on this show so far and might be the finest 10 minutes or so of acting on television this year.
Elsewhere, Lalo checks in with both Hector and Gus to highlight that there’s a new Salamanca on the block. The Hector visit gives us the dark origin of the man’s little bell, which will become his main communication device moving forward, and the ominous observation that Hector still “just wants to kill everybody,” but it’s Lalo’s meeting with Gus that’s more intriguing. Frankly, I haven’t been a fan of the way Gus has been used in Better Call Saul. I’d argue that BCS has greatly deepened our knowledge about every Breaking Bad character that’s appeared, save Gus Fring. Though we discovered that Gus is to blame for Hector’s partially vegetative state, we know no more or less about Gus Fring, the man, than we did at the end of Breaking Bad. But it’s possible that a new sparring partner, one as charming and outwardly pleasant as Lalo, could eke out a new dynamic out of the stoic baddie.
Finally, Mike has a missing Werner on his hands. After adding some tension to the construction team’s final blast by sending Werner back in to check on a faulty explosive, dripping the whole thing in horror movie foreshadowing, things seem relatively stable. However, Werner is acting funny and expresses his desire to leave the compound for a few days to visit his wife whom he misses dearly. Mike gives him a very level-headed no, and Werner appears to accept the answer. But it turns out that Werner uses his construction tools to stage his unauthorized escape. Kai was a red herring all along; Wener was the wildcard we had to worry about. Being lenient once with Werner only to get burned a second time might be the “no half-measures” lesson that Mike goes on to teach Walter White.
Though it certainly doesn’t feel like the second to last episode of this season, “Wiedersehen” is able to surprise in unexpected ways and offers another momentous twist in the Jimmy-Kim relationship. Next week’s season finale will have to be pretty explosive to meet the expectations that the cast and crew set up before the season began, but nonetheless, Season 4 has been a patient, deliberate epilogue to the Chuck-Jimmy saga that suggests maybe we don’t exactly know how this is all going to end.
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.