THE FOLLOWING RECAP CONTAINS EXTENSIVE SPOILERS OF THE ABOVE EPISODE.
Before we even start – where is Nacho?!
It’s surprising it took until episode 6 for Chuck to appear via flashback, although his cameo is merely that. While Michael McKean’s appearance is suitably younger and EHS-free, one has to suspend their disbelief that this is a past Jimmy and Kim, at least based on looks. Based on what they do and say, it’s a different matter. Kim is simply raring to go. She wastes no time in showing off her third-year law student knowledge to Chuck, while the latter’s annoying little brother does his annoying little brother thing. He also, fatefully, steps into that library and set everything in motion. Although let’s be honest – he’d still have had alter egos and dirty tricks and dodgy schemes had he worked in that mailroom all his life.
Such lack of ambition would be lost on past or present Kim, and the 2003 version has it all planned out. She’s keeping Mesa Verde for now, but with a Schweikart and Cokely shaped twist, proposing she set up a banking division for the firm. As was clear last week, Kim’s rediscovered her spark in criminal law cases such as David and Denise, and this neat manoeuvre will allow her the time to delve into worlds such as theirs that bit more often. Great for Kim; not so great for Jimmy, who has a moment of dreadful realisation when Kim recounts all this to him over dinner. Wexler-McGill is never coming back – not when (if) Jimmy gets his licence back in ten months, no matter how many WM logos he scribbles, and no matter how much dubious cash he can get together. On the logos – Kim saw them prior to this, reaffirming to her Jimmy’s enthusiasm for restarting their professional partnership. An enthusiasm apparently not – or no longer – shared by her.
Bad news comes in twos for Jimmy in the shape of Mrs. Strauss’ passing. Initially, he seems to mourn not but the prospect of snatching her Alpine Shepherd Boy and $8,000 hard cash for he and Ira to split. $8,000, it seems, he still knows where to find should he require it – the college grad grandson Clarence’s place. But Jimmy’s sadness over Mrs. Strauss seems genuine as he digs out her Sandpiper commercial tape. A sadness scarcely displayed in mourning his own brother.
Plenty of reasons to push Jimmy to extreme lengths in his endeavours, then. But the elaborate intimidation stunt of titular piñatas, baseball bats and a hulking duo featuring Huell (Lavell Crawford, not seen since late last season) must have been pre-orchestrated revenge and planned since Jimmy was mugged by Rocco, Zane and Jed last ep. Maybe all this week’s hurt made Jimmy deliver it all with that little bit extra venom, or maybe the fake swing at Rocco’s head was a late addition to the routine. It was a satisfying, if directly inconsequential scene. The outrageously bold red tracksuit gave away that this time, Slippin’ Jimmy wasn’t to be messing with.
Howard had already received an actual beating from Jimmy, and the latter didn’t require masked hardmen and bats to deliver the verbal kick up the ass that his old adversary needed. Howard has come out of Chuck’s death worst off than any character – emotionally and financially. And Jimmy might not like him, but he does respect HHM, perhaps more than he ever did any of the founders. Or maybe Jimmy’s sharp instruction to put an end to the consultant-imposed ‘right-sizing’ of the company is in part an honourable defending of the late, elder McGill’s life’s work. Chuck would walk through an electronics store to save the firm. HHM is where it all began for Jimmy, and he does have Chuck to thank for that. Even if Charles would roll in his grave at the thought of Jimmy using his $5,000 inheritance to buy pre-paid cell phones to hock.
That’s quite enough on Jimmy, who dominated this episode – refreshingly and commandingly so. Take a bow, Bob Odenkirk.
Mike’s trajectory is the most stable of all the central characters at the moment, proving to Tyrus that his expertise extends to treadmills. He doesn’t have much to worry about, Gus with full confidence in his ability to deliver adequate, secure and monitored lodgings for the German workmen who will construct a fully-functional, industrial-sized meth lab in half a year. I’d probably do a half-decent job too if they gave me a a football pitch, self-serve bar and subsidised groceries. It’s pretty clear that all this still isn’t enough for troublemaker Kai (Ben Bela Böhm), who will find out who he’s dealing with soon enough. Mike’s home life is back on track too, as he clears the air with Stacey and Anita and arranges a school run for Kaylee. Grandad of the year award incoming. That said, Mike knows what he’s got himself into. He’s not blind to the sheer significance of what Gus is undertaking, and the grave personal risk involved. He knows, on some level, that this is his last hurrah, and that gives the routine way he conducts his work a solemn edge.
I mean how else could you embark on a career under Gus? As he delivers a ghastly anecdote in the darkened hospital, he is more grim reaper-like than the Santa Meurte figure at Hector’s bedside. I’ve seen this sequence criticised on account of its clichéd monologuing and the obvious lack of consequence to talking at a comatose man. Personally, I was shaken by it, partly due to my propensity to balk at any sort of depiction of animal cruelty, even non-visualised.
The wounded coati, kept remorselessly by young Gus until it perished in retribution for ransacking his nurtured lúcuma tree, was not a subtle analogy for Hector’s current state. But it was an appropriate reminder of Gus’s cold evil, reinforced ominously regularly this season, and there was no doubting the authenticity of the tale or the intensity of Gus’s obsession. His lúcuma tree of today is just beginning its six-month construction, but the offending coati in that story’s conclusion is not Hector.
And we all know that the racoon wins.