Just When You Think 'Better Call Saul' Is Going to Zig, It Zags in The Season's Most Exhilarating Episode
There are no bad Better Call Saul episodes. This is probably true of Breaking Bad, too, but on a scale of 1-10, I can’t think of a single episode of Saul that would merit less than a 7.5. Ninety percent of the series’ episodes would fall between an 8.5 and 9.5. Last night’s episode, “Coushatta,” was a 9.7. That’s a remarkable thing in the era of “Big Moment TV,” and in an episode that doesn’t have a cliffhanger, where no one gets married, no one has a baby, no one overthrows a government, and no one dies.
But when Kim Wexler casually says to Jimmy, “Let’s do it again,” it may have been the most exhilarating moment of television this year, because just when you think Better Call Saul is going to zig, the damn show goes and zags on us.
Where season three was the “Fall of Chuck,” season, this entire season has felt like it’s been working toward “The Fall of Kim,” and it may still be, but not in anyway we might have expected. Until “Coushatta,” the relationship between Jimmy and Kim felt as though it were veering one way, toward its ultimate demise. In last week’s time-jump montage, we saw Jimmy and Kim continue to drift apart over the course of eight months. Jimmy fell back into his Slippin’ Jimmy ways with the drop phones, while also collecting his future criminal clientele. Meanwhile, Kim fell into her own groove at her new law firm, working pro-bono cases while helping to expand Mesa Verde. When Jimmy made an ass of himself at the Schweikart and Cokely cocktail party last week, and Kim didn’t even bother to chastise him afterward, it felt like the death knell to their relationship. Kim had given up completely on her Jimmy McGill reclamation project, and she had decided to leave him to his own devices. Helping Jimmy out with Huell’s case, meanwhile, felt like the final favor, and there was this unspoken implication from Kim. “I’ll do this for you, Jimmy, but when this case is over, so are we.”
It continued to feel that way through the opening scenes of this week’s episode. Kim had come up with a brilliant scheme to save Huell’s ass. She put Jimmy on a bus to Coushatta, Louisiana (population 2,299).
Jimmy — and his fellow bus passengers — wrote hundreds of letters to the judge in Huell’s case, and he sent them from a small-town in Louisianna. Kim, meanwhile, gave the prosecutor the impression that she was trying to “shock and awe” her into submission, but in reality, Kim was setting her up for the real kicker: Paint Huell as some kind of Saint, and — through those letters from Louisianna to the judge — suggest that, were the case to go to trial, it would create a media circus over a case that both the prosecutor and the judge clearly did not want to make headlines.
It worked. Kim’s plan — brilliantly written by the episode’s writer Gordon Smith (who also wrote “Chicanery” — went off without a hitch, and it was exhilerating. In coming up with this legal caper, and then returning back to Schweikart and Cokely to do grind-work for Mesa Verde, Kim realizes that she doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life applying for zoning ordinances to help a banking franchise expand. She wants to concoct elaborate schemes. She still wants to help people, but she sees the adrenaline-fueled high of Jimmy’s way. Kim Wexler loves the con.
Her motives are still pure, but Kim Wexler — in her own way — also wants to break bad. Kim finds success through conventional means lacking, and what drew her to Jimmy in the first place — the thrill of the grift, of being someone else — comes back with full force. “Let’s do it again.”
It’s going to be her downfall, and we all know it, and it’s going to break our goddamn hearts, but in the short term, Mickey and Mallory Esquire is going to be a blast. Fuck sensibility. Let’s Squat Cobbler together! And while the ultimate end result may feel in a way more tragic, at least Kim will have some agency in her own unraveling, rather than becoming collateral damage in Jimmy’s world. She doesn’t want to be Julia Roberts in Ocean’s 11. She wants to be Clooney.
— Meanwhile, I’m not sure where Peter Gould and the gang are going with the Werner storyline, but it’s another situation where they zagged when we expected them to zig, and by that, I mean that Kai was supposed to be the problem child, but it may yet turn out that Werner and his drunken chattering will end up the victim in all of this. As soon as Werner told Mike about his 26-year marriage and the fact that he’s never gone this long without seeing his wife, I knew one thing for sure: Werner would never see his wife again. It’s the nature of Better Call Saul never to take the easy way out; if they’re going to kill someone, they’re going to kill the guy we like the most.
— The Nacho storyline was interesting for only one real reason: Lalo. This guy:
Lalo is a Breaking Bad character that we’ve never actually seen. Who is Lalo? He’s a guy that Saul Goodman mentioned to Walter and Jesse when they took him out into the desert and threatened to bury him.
We now know that he’s a Salamanca, and that he will survive until the Breaking Bad timeline, the events of which will not take place for another 5 years. We’re probably going to be seeing a lot of Lalo in future seasons, and eventually, we’re going to find out why Saul thought Lalo had sent two men out to assassinate him.
Header Image Source: AMC