BETTER CALL SAUL Review: “Bali Ha’i”

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Airtime: Mondays at 10PM on AMC
Episode: Season 2, Episode 6 (S02E06)

TB-TV-Grade-B+

Tweetable Takeaway: Kim is offered a lifeline while things come to a boiling point between Mike and Salamanca on #BetterCallSaul


Tonight’s episode of shows how intense things have gotten for Mike after his Tuco incident, gives us a glimpse into Kim’s predicament at HHM, and showcases the singing skills of Jimmy.

First I want to address the complaints about Better Call Saul I’ve heard from fans of Breaking Bad.  I understand Better Call Saul feels slow in comparison, and it’s purposeful.  This is an entirely different show with its own dynamics, even though it occupies the same world as Walter White.  It’s a slow burn, but is every bit as rewarding as Breaking Bad if you just allow yourself to loose the expectations and enjoy the ride.

There’s no doubt the story telling is second to none, and the way the creators of the show delve into character is extraordinary.  Jimmy, Mike, Kim, Chuck, and Howard are rich vibrant characters that jump off the screen.  There really isn’t that many shows with such well rounded characters.  It’s the little things too, those small accentuations and moments that mean more on a second viewing than on first glance, which really show how detailed and well thought out every aspect of this show is.

Another thing I hear a lot is that the show is disjointed and feels like it’s two entirely different shows smushed together.  Mike’s story is a little grittier, a little more intense, and perhaps a little more Breaking Bad than Jimmy’s at this point.  I totally get that and have noticed it as well.  While Jimmy is in the middle of a love story, Mike struggles for his life with Hector Salamanca, but I feel these two stories will collide in an astounding and series changing way eventually.  It really doesn’t bother me that the narrative construction of Better Call Saul is far more experimental than anything Breaking Bad had to offer.  Gilligan and Gould are charting unexplored water and I’m enjoying the hell out of the ride.

All right, back to tonight’s episode.  There’s a lot to be gleaned from what’s going on in Kim and Jimmy’s life.  There are two telling scenes, one for each of them, that show the dissatisfaction they both have with their current circumstances. 

Jimmy is stuck sleeping alone in the apartment Davis and Main have gotten for him, and insomnia has set in.  He tries to do what anyone with insomnia does, he watches TV.  This is where he discovers Davis and Main have their own Sandpiper commercial on the air, but it’s generic and boring like their old commercial.  It’s nothing like Jimmy’s mini masterpiece.  Clearly his idea was a good one, they just didn’t like his technique, and so they co-opted it and made it dull.  After a long struggle of entertaining himself with wooden ball décor, he goes to the one place that feels like home to him … his old tiny office in the back of the nail salon.  He sleeps like a baby.

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Kim on the other hand has her office back again.  Did Chuck really go to bat for her with Howard?  Either way, Howard is as cold to Kim as is humanly possible.  He won’t look at her, and he won’t speak to her as they walk to meet with the big client she landed last episode.  This is Kim’s new reality; she’s being frozen out by one of the partners.  It’s even more obvious when she’s abandoned to argue the Sandpiper case all alone in court without any backup from Howard.  Kim’s a fighter though, and the partner from the other law firm notices, and is impressed by it.  Schweigert and Coakley offer Kim a dream , with partner track, and they’ll pay off her law school debt.  She’s given a way out, but will she take it?

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Clearly these two lovebirds are better together than they are apart.  Kim has been miserable working the Sisyphean doc review tasks Howard has punished her with, and her life has basically become all work and no Jimmy.  Granted she’s mad at him, and he made her look really bad, but it’s clear there’s a lack of enjoyment in her life right now.  Jimmy on the other hand is working a where he doesn’t fit in, his every move watched by the annoying Erin, and none of it means anything if he’s not with the person he took the to impress.  It was great to see these two back together after so long apart.  Kim got her own con working at a bar and called Jimmy to come join her.  They were in their element again, feeding off of each other.  I’m not sure what the future has in store for these two, but I kind of get the sense they are one of those couples who are good together, but have the kind of destructive love which tears everything else around them down.

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Mike on the other hand is in a far more precarious predicament.  He’s being hassled by Hector Salamanca’s men to take responsibility for the gun during his fight with Tuco.  When he declines, Salamanca turns to the scary twins from Breaking Bad to really send a message to Mike that his granddaughter and daughter-in-law are not safe.  Mike’s not easily intimidated, as we well know, but after an incident in his house where he outsmarts a couple of Hector’s goons, we see that beneath the calm exterior he’s actually scared.  It’s during a face-to-face meeting with Salamanca where we see how smart Mike really is.  He turns the $5,000 offer to say the gun is his into $50,000, and then uses some of the money to square things with Nacho.  I doubt things are over between Salamanca and Mike, and the next four episodes will show us if I’m right or not.

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More thoughts:

Jimmy is not a great singer, but his rendition of Bali Ha’i on Kim’s answering machine is hilarious.  Clearly he’s trying to woo Kim back through singing, and weirdly, it seems to be working.

The way Mike used a welcome mat and carbon paper to see if someone had been to his house was genius, and the way he outsmarts the intruders shows Mike is not someone to mess with.

Did Chuck force Howard to let Kim back upstairs?  He’s clearly pissed at Kim still and besides being stone cold to her, plans on continuing to make her life miserable.  Will she take the lifeline from Schweigert and Coakley?

TB-TV-Grade-B+

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For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates. Twitter: @OfSoundnVision

Keep up with all of Jeff’s reviews here
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