BETTER CALL SAUL: “The Guy For This”

Did we all have Kim Wexler wrong? Is she not the person we thought she was?

Early on in this third episode, Jimmy comes home from a long day of lawyerin’ and is greeted by Kim on their balcony (the first time we’ve really gotten a full view of her apartment from this angle; it’s a cool space). They share some drinks, and she expresses her delight in having no Mesa Verde business the next day, all the while eyeing the empty bottle Jimmy left perched, precariously, on the guard rail.

We’re supposed to view this the same way we’ve viewed every Jimmy/Kim scene from the last handful of episodes. His new personality is worrying to her, she doesn’t approve, they’re headed for a breakup, etc, etc. We always knew that Kim didn’t hate that side of Jimmy. It held a certain seduction for her, leading that life, but it never got her completely. Would she have fallen for Jimmy if he wasn’t Jimmy? It’s hard to say for sure, but given how the next night she’s up there again, watching him deliberately taunt her with another bottle hanging over another edge, she grabs it and throws it as hard as she can.

To circle back upon my point (I should really stop trying to write these in one go): Kim does not hate Jimmy. She’s afraid of what his influence will mean for her prestigious law career (or of what he’ll say to Rich Schweikart), but in the end, I think she’s mostly jealous of him. That he can be the person he wants to be, out in public, while she’s stuck kicking people out of their homes for some rich asshole while a bunch of other rich assholes stay back and cheer her on. Left unsaid is the fact that to get to where she is, she’s undoubtedly worked five times harder than someone like Howard Hamlin (or any male lawyer) ever did.

We still don’t know very much about Kim’s life before New Mexico (though we got a small snippet tonight), but it’s getting harder and harder for her to pretend that she’s not a rich asshole herself. At the very least, she’s very fine with pretending she is one, which is why I think what Mr. Acker said to her cut so deeply, and why she went back home to throw bottles off of a balcony. This may seem like a victory of sorts for the McGill half of Wexler/McGill, but the damage a broken-bad version of Kim Wexler can do is a lot more than some cell phone deals.

What’s funny is that if Kim knew the real details of what the new Saul Goodman is getting up these days, she’d probably be grateful for the little arena  she clawed her way towards. We always knew, from the moment Saul Goodman first showed up to grace our collective TV screens way back in 2009, that the moment would come when he became a Cartel Lawyer. That moment, dear friends, is now! Enlisted by Lalo and Nacho to help Krazy-8 avoid real jail time, Saul is thrust headfirst into true criminal law, meeting with Domingo to hammer out the specifics of the deal he’s about to make with the cops to surreptitiously finger Gus Fring’s operation. Little does Lalo know that his most trusted man is there to inform on his activities and allow Fring to insulate himself from any real scrutiny.

The kicker here is that Krazy-8 is actually meeting with our old pals DEA agents Hank Schrader and Steve Gomez. It’s a little thrilling to see just how close Hank really was to the Chicken Man, and also confirm that old “Krazy-8 is a DEA snitch” subplot that briefly came up during the original show. I think a meeting with Hank and Gomie was always something this show was going to pull out at some point, and it’s kind of fitting that the week after he changes his name to Saul Goodman, here he is meeting someone who will become one of the key figures in Saul Goodman’s death.

  • The Nacho subplot gets more and more depressing, as his father shows up to yell at him for trying to secretly buy out the family business and get him to leave town. I at first thought this was Papa Varga being paranoid, but then I remembered Victor in that restaurant, standing over Nacho’s dad with a gun in his pocket and a sneer on his face. Of course Nacho tried to do this, and of course he can’t say why. This is all going to end so terribly.
  • There’s also something deeply sad about how they film Nacho’s house. Not quite Jesse’s meth pad, but not far off. Nothing but long shadows and low angles.
  • Lalo is such an incredible sociopath that he can even kind of charm Saul. At the very least, he can pretend to abide by the rules of client privilege and pay the man a fair rate. Saul thinks that makes him better than Tuco. It probably makes him worse.
  • A great preview of the instincts that would eventually make him the smartest person in the Heisenberg empire shows up when Jimmy comes back to help Krazy-8 forge a better deal with the DEA. He didn’t need to do that, but he did, because he’s a good lawyer in the end.
  • The ants swarming all over Jimmy’s discarded ice cream were a little much, but the shot where Nacho drops him back off (“when you’re in, you’re in” he intones sadly), the little scene of Jimmy staring at it worryingly was worth some extra heavy-handedness.
  • Expert usage of venerable character actor Barry Corbin (of No Country For Old Men and Northern Exposure fame) as Mr. Acker. He’s there to call bullshit on Kim’s entire lifestyle, and it draws enough blood to perhaps set in motion the collapse of her and Jimmy’s entire relationship.
  • Only two short scenes for Mike tonight, as he drinks himself into a stupor at the bar he took Werner to (and demands that the photo of the Sydney Opera House that Werner was so proud of be removed), then busts up some local youths who get in his face as he walks home. He, like Jimmy, Kim, and Nacho alongside him, is chafing under the rule of his new master. Unlike those three, we know he doesn’t escape.

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