Better Call Saul leaves us hanging

Words by Llewellyn Horgan

Better Call Saul definitely has a pattern of having seemingly obscure/banal episode titles. This one for instance is called “Piñata” – fun at parties but not particularly evocative or inspiring. Not to me, anyway.

Other classic titles include “Bingo”, “Smoke” and “Lantern”. Sometimes, these titles are metaphorical, and sometimes they are just things that feature in the episode.  Upon starting this episode, I thought that perhaps the title would be a metaphor for how Jimmy or Kim are being treated by the world – but apparently not. The last few minutes clear it up: the title refers to Jimmy stringing up the young hoodlums who mugged him in last week’s episode and threatening to beat them unless they leave him alone. After seeing this, the title makes sense then, because this decision of Jimmy to intimidate several teenagers into allowing him to sell phones of questionable legal status is quite a big leap for him – going from the occasional morally ambiguous act and theft or scam to serious criminality. Jimmy is now a thug.

The reason I have talked about this ending scene at length is because it was by far the most interesting moment of this episode. Other worthwhile moments include further developments regarding the construction of Gus Frings ill-fated super meth lab by a rag tag team of German engineers. Although we already know the lab will ultimately go up in flames, it’s still somewhat interesting to see its origin. (Also, I feel like these German engineers may have underestimated how much Gus wants his secret super lab to remain secret – it seems to me a forlorn conclusion that he will have them all murdered at the completion of the project to prevent any loose ends. I hope they enjoy the foosball while it lasts.) Kim likewise continues her mission to extricate herself from her soul-destroying banking law career. The occasionally extremely terrifying Gus also features in one scene where he talks at length about how as a child he captured and tortured an innocent animal for months.

Everything in this episode works as it should and is always at least somewhat engaging and even at points gripping – however this season seems to be moving at such a slow pace it is hard to say how the characters have moved in position since the start of the season. Jimmy is still in limbo after being suspended from law and in denial about the effect his brother’s death has had on him. Kim is unsure what she wants out of her career. Mike is still making money for his family through illegal means. And Gus is still quietly terrifying. This season of Better Call Saul is full of nice scenery – but it would be good if we could pick up the pace, and things could get moving a bit faster. I live in hope for next week’s episode finally putting the foot on the gas!

Pulp Editors