NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Better Call Saul” are present in this review
Better Call Saul made the bold decision to exercise a time jump in this week’s episode, speeding along the storylines of most of the lead characters to their next big steps. This felt appropriate however, since the show did seem like it was going to have a hard time justifying Jimmy continuing to waste away at the cellphone store, while Mike was left to do nothing but supervise the German engineers as they started work on Gus’s meth superlab. Thus, “Something Stupid” skipped over all of that filler, and that was no doubt a wise decision, since there’s only a few episodes left in Better Call Saul’s current season at this point.
Fortunately, even moving forward about eight months in time since the events of last week’s episode, Better Call Saul managed to deliver another excellent offering this week, particularly as the season appears to be laying the groundwork for its climactic events over the next three weeks. Once again, Jimmy and Kim mostly took center stage in this week’s episode, with Mike relegated to a subplot that still seems to be deliberately moving slowly, in order to build up to more shocking events that will likely serve as a cliffhanger before next year’s already-confirmed fifth season begins. This episode structure continues to work well though, so Better Call Saul wisely doesn’t fix what isn’t broken, especially since the re-aligned focus on Jimmy has only made a great season even better over the past several episodes.
Jimmy actually brought back his ‘Saul Goodman’ identity this week too, as his private cellphone business continues to boom, necessitating a pseudonym so as not to attract unwanted attention from Jimmy’s legal contacts. Over the past several months however, Jimmy’s and Kim’s highly differing life stations have led to them gradually drifting apart, despite them living together. This was excellently displayed in a fantastic cold open, one that both established the time jump, as well as the dramatic stakes of the current story direction, pretty much flawlessly. The same is true of an early section showing Jimmy and Kim no longer having the same chemistry at a Schweikart & Cokely mixer, ending with the two silently riding in a car together before a commercial break cuts in. It seems all but certain at this point that Jimmy’s and Kim’s relationship will be fractured, if not broken entirely, by the end of the season, and things appear to be preparing to come to a head there, when Huell ends up in legal trouble, after mistakenly assaulting a police officer that accosts Jimmy during his cellphone racket.
With Huell facing jail time, Jimmy decides to ask Kim for help in defending Huell, since there’s still a month left on his suspension, and this seems to light the fuse when it comes to the imminent destruction of their relationship, even if the indications are purely coming second-hand for now. Kim is doing great since starting work at Schweikart & Cokely, being able to get her Mesa Verde work back on track, while also being able to pursue her criminal defense interests as well. All told, Kim is certainly doing Jimmy a huge favour in taking on Huell’s defense, and when she tries to make her usual case to the prosecutor, she gets a pretty unfiltered tirade about the, “Scumbag disbarred ex-lawyer” that serves as the only real witness. Jimmy’s reputation as Saul Goodman is starting to precede him, it seems, creating yet another interesting new possibility for Kim’s seemingly inevitable walking out; Preservation of her own reputation. I imagine it would definitely cause Jimmy to permanently retreat into his Saul Goodman identity, as we know he will by the time the events of Breaking Bad begin, if Kim were to abandon him to moral bankruptcy, just as the late Chuck seemed determined to do at every opportunity. The plot thickens however when Kim ends the episode by seemingly suggesting to Jimmy that he should once again bend the law to save Huell, and she’s going to help him do it. Is that what’s really going on however?
The show has expertly handled an anticipated development once again, namely the fact that Kim is obviously not around during the events of Breaking Bad. Is this because she and Jimmy had a falling out, or because Jimmy’s actions end up ruining Kim’s life in some spectacular way, or perhaps the reason is something else entirely? Whatever the case, Kim nicely kept up her usual moral principles with Huell’s defense, at least to start, when she continually insists to Jimmy that Huell can’t be allowed to flee, even when he will pretty much certainly see jail time for the assault. I have to admit that Better Call Saul is not giving any clear indication of where it’s headed next with Kim, and unlike a few of Kim’s prior story arcs from this season, the show no longer feels like it’s trying to figure out how best to position Kim’s character. With three episodes left in the season, Kim’s soul could be on the line even more than Jimmy’s, since we obviously know that Jimmy is eventually damned to the darkness. Will Kim sacrifice everything she’s achieved in a futile effort to save a man who can’t be saved? It seems like the one kind of conflict that could destroy Kim when you think about it that way, since she’s already proven that she’s unable to abandon well-meaning n’er-do-wells, even when it’s to her detriment.
Finally, like I said, the criminal subplots with Mike and Gus still aren’t really moving anywhere quickly, but we do get a pretty clear showcase of just how much of a headache working with the German engineers is now becoming for Mike, especially when the problem engineer, Kai, causes some seriously expensive structural damage. Mike thinks about getting Kai deported back to Germany, but the boss, Werner, suggests that maybe they just need some R&R. I suppose this will mean more underplaying of the show’s criminal storylines next week, especially with Nacho still sitting out this week’s episode (this is just getting conspicuous by this point!), but at least Gus continues to stand out, even when the rest of his operation is playing the waiting game in terms of story developments. Seeing Hector seemingly recovering (complete with perving on a poor nurse at one point!), only to have Gus order his treatment tempered so that his mind is well, but his body isn’t, was some delightfully twisted stuff, especially since we know that this is exactly the state that Hector is in during the events of Breaking Bad. It’s almost the perfect attack on Hector, if Breaking Bad fans couldn’t already tell you that this torture of Hector doesn’t quite go as planned for Gus in the end.
“Something Stupid” feels a lot like a mere bridging episode that’s teasing events to come, rather than having any seriously rewarding payoffs in the moment, but if there’s one current show that’s mastered the art of the slow burn storyline, it’s Better Call Saul. Even as this week’s episode simply seems to be setting up events for later, the writing remains so sharp, and the character work remains so outstanding, that it’s still impossible not to be sucked into the inevitable moral destruction of these personalities. Even as Kim seems to be achieving more success than ever at Schweikart & Cokely, the looming racket of Jimmy seems entirely primed to derail her law career, or at the very least, her relationship with Jimmy. Mike and Gus meanwhile are still entirely sustaining themselves on Breaking Bad teases for now, but seeing how one of the cornerstones of Walt’s and Jesse’s own future operation comes together is still proving to be fascinating, especially as we see more twisted dimensions added to the violent Gus/Hector rivalry that carries on well into the events of Breaking Bad itself. We have three weeks left to see how these developments all turn out before the season ends, and something tells me that we have a lot to look forward to!
- Jimmy's racket roping Kim into real trouble
- Huell becoming the lynchpin to potentially destroying Jimmy's and Kim's relationship
- Gus twisting the knife with Hector all the more
- Still no Nacho?