Better Call Saul: Breathtaking Television?

Words by Llewellyn Horgan

This week’s Better Call Saul is a lot darker than last week’s episode in a number of ways. There is literal darkness, with several scenes in the episode featuring people shrouded in shadows. There is also metaphorical darkness (my favorite type), with this episode containing some of the most graphically violent content of the show to date. 

As has been frequently been the case with Better Call Saul, this episode consists of several separate subplots that do not ever actually come together, though we can only assume they will in the future. Like last week’s episode, we start off in a hospital, but this time it is Hector in the hospital bed, post stroke. We understand it is not a routine inspection – the ‘doctor’ is doing his inspection in the dark, while his associate watches some inattentive staff walk by. The doctor has been sent by Gus Fring, emotionless supervillain and chicken shop owner, who is actually unhappy about his old enemy Hector having a stroke, because it robs him of the chance to enact his own vengeance upon him.

Gus is a complicated guy and in this episode he regains a lot of his sinister and threatening allure. You can almost forget he ends up getting blown up in a nursing home. In one memorable scene Gus’s face, shrouded in shadows, is captured in a close up, looking exactly like the kind of face you would not want to wake up to in the morning, or at any time of the day, really. It is through techniques such as this clever framing that we are made to fear him, despite the fact that he is most frequently found in the car park of his chicken shop, picking up trash. We also learn in this episode that it may not be as easy to leave a drug cartel as the uninitiated may think. Poor Nacho.

In other news, Jimmy is getting over his brother’s death through a hearty job search. He is looking to work in sales – something he does indeed have a knack for. After sweet talking some guileless photocopying store managers, Jimmy seems disappointed as to how easy it was to nab a job offer and leaves in disgust. Later, he begins planning a heist. Obviously planning crimes is a part of his healing process. We all grieve in difference ways. While Jimmy for the most part retains his happy go lucky facade, Kim is a lot more open with her feelings, berating Howard Hamlins’ insensitive behavior in a rather memorable speech that may well be the highlight of the episode. Kim remains the real hero of this show. It’s a shame she probably dies horribly, because she’s certainly not in Breaking Bad.

The one thing that really lets this episode down is Mike’s subplot, with the main issue being that nothing really happens. Unlike Jimmy, who must undergo a lot of character development to end up as Saul Goodman, Mike is more or less exactly the same as his Breaking Bad version. Because Mike is not going to undergo any character development at this point, watching him is for the most part is a bit boring. It seems as though the writers aren’t really quite sure what to do with him. Still, his scenes remain entertaining. Just not AS entertaining.

As mentioned above, the show ends on a scene of breathtaking violence that increases the tension of another mostly slow-paced episode, and also gives the title of the episode a rather dark explanation. After this episode I agree more wholeheartedly with Coles banning plastic bags – they are just too dangerous for this world. The closing scene reminds us that, as Jimmy gets closer to entering the underworld fully, there’s sure to be danger for not only him, but also his loved ones. This episode was dark, but Jimmy’s world is sure to get a lot darker.

Pulp Editors