THE FOLLOWING RECAP CONTAINS EXTENSIVE SPOILERS OF THE ABOVE EPISODE
While it is far beyond me how the pacing of Better Call Saul could be considered an issue, those who think the show’s three and a half seasons playing out over something in the region of a year will have let out an ironic belly laugh as suddenly, there is a jump of close to the same period.
Jimmy and Kim’s problems are, surprisingly, played out in a split-screen montage (that I had to watch multiple times) guided by calendar entries that represent a significant narrative departure for the show. It’s early 2004 and the two characters have grown rather apart – not a surprise in itself, unless you have been watching a different show. It is sad, however – an all-too familiar scenario played out to a Lola Marsh cover of Carson Parks’ ‘Somethin’ Stupid’ and perhaps a less explosive deterioration of the relationship than expected. That’s not to say it won’t end in fireworks – the horizontal kind – and there is every reason to think it is set to, as signposted loudly here.
Though not as loud as Huell Babineaux’s music, pumping through headphones as he whacks an unnamed, plain-clothes police officer (Colby French) with a feast of sarnies. I had more sympathy with the officer here than I did Jimmy, who was being a bit of an uncooperative ass. Meanwhile, there is unlikely to ever be emotional attachment toward Huell, a bumbling boulder of a man who would ordinarily be unlikely to attract Kim Wexler’s sympathy on account of his lack of manners and legal disposition.
A disposition Jimmy intends to circumnavigate by ‘doing his thing’, which would seem to involve Huell most certainly not appearing in court. Sounds like a Jimmy McGill clusterfuck special, coming right up. But Kim’s also ‘doing her thing’, although we have no idea what that is, other than that it involves a LOT of colourful stationary. Not the first ambiguously artistic end we’ve had.
We have already seen Jimmy showing us (and a bored Huell) round his proposed new law office, so know that the cell phone money is going to a predictable, logical cause. But no amount of CC Mobile street vending could buy him an office in Shweikart & Cokely, or framed gratitude from past clients. Kimberly (that was strange to see and say) is the real deal – legit, thriving, independent and successful enough to participate in lavish office ski-trips – although not to Telluride or Aspen. Jimmy’s drunken rambling fulfils his unquenchable thirst for attention and, apparently, Kim’s embarrassment.
The opening sequence doesn’t show any conflict, which is arguably a more telling picture of fading love. But there is no split-screen required on the drive home from the S&C mixer, Jimmy more bothered by the awkward silence than absent chemistry. He is descending morally and sympathetically into the anti-hero we are all waiting for.
Which makes it all the more interesting that Kim is willing to help Jimmy. Perhaps his coming clean over the shady CC Mobile gig has earned him brownie points (maybe she’d think again if she saw those tracksuits). Perhaps she sees him as no lost cause, just like David or Denise. But is that in the sense of his Huell predicament, or their relationship? Likely both. How far Kim will be pulled in, and if she will get out in time, can only be guessed at this point. I think that, at this point, she is thought of as fondly as any character in BCS. Her role over the coming episodes, and season five, is going to be key.
She’s a pillar in many ways, as is Mike ‘World-Class Strength’ Ehrmantraut. Not the same kind that calamitously falls inside the meth lab in progress, a foreshadowing of the kind destined to lead either Werner or one his men, likely Kai, to some undesirable places very soon. Even less desirable than the workers’ lodging warehouse has become – no matter how many pints are poured and games of pinball played, they need out. We assume that will not be to Mr. Fring’s taste, but Mike’s not stupid. He knows what he’s doing, and Gus trusts him to the degree that he feels no need to regularly check up on the work.
Maybe he should. After, Mike’s getting friendly with Werner, an unusual thing, and another that can’t lead anywhere good. Mike thrives in solidarity, self-sufficiency and his staggering competence levels. Werner may be clever, but he is not cut from the same cloth as Mike – much as a Gail is not cut from the same cloth as a Walter White. Tragedy looms, and so does the making of future Mike, who is colder and more ruthless than the one we see enjoying Happy Hour.
Gus has been too busy keeping an eye on hospitalised Hector to be bothered by any of this yet, but Dr. Bruckner’s report and video of her patient’s progress might just change that. Hector responding to stimuli and lusting over a poor nurse is enough evidence to suggest that he has reached the point Gus desired – and that the latter must move fast to gain complete drug monopoly, as facilitated by the as-yet incomplete lab. Relieving Dr. Bruckner of her patient’s charge paves the way for Gus to ensure the bed-ridden Hector stays that way – or at least chair-ridden, furiously flicking the fingers of that right hand for good, able to craves life’s pleasures but never again to experience them the same. A wounded coati, left to suffer and die at the hand of an unrelenting megalomaniac.
That’s one side to it; the other is the faltering construction work essential to Gus’s plan. We can can be sure that Kai, or Werner, or both, or all of them have a rebuke coming for their slacking that does not include R&R.
Better Call Saul season 4, episode 7 is available on Netflix now