BETTER CALL SAUL Review: “Fifi”

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Airtime: Mondays at 10PM on AMC
Episode: Season 2, Episode 8 (S02E08)

TB-TV-Grade-A

Tweetable Takeaway: Jimmy and Mike both gear up for big things as #BetterCallSaul nears the finale.


Tonight’s episode of , beyond being a visual feast, lays the groundwork for the final two episodes of the season.  Both Mike and Jimmy have big things in store as the show nears its finale.

One of the things that really makes Better Call Saul a notch above the rest is the way it’s shot.  The show is gorgeous, and more cinematic than most, but tonight’s episode really pulled out all of the stops.  It was directed by Larysa Kondracki, and opens with a stunning, incredibly long single take shot of the border inspection of an ice cream truck coming into the United States.  That first sequence made me really sit up and take notice. The rest of the episode was filled with impressive angles, great use of negative space, and lighting that focuses our attention.  She also directed last season’s wonderful “Bingo” episode, where we found out the meaning of a Chicago Sunroof.  Funny aside, Kondracki studied English Literature and Theater at McGill University.  Coincidence?

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The episode does a wonderful setting things up for the final two episodes, while still being dramatic and satisfying as a stand-alone piece.  We see Kim finally quit HHM in a scene that starts with Howard being a smug dick when he thinks she’s going to Schweikert and Coakley, but ends with him softening, and almost envious of her being able to start fresh.  There’s a lot more to Howard than we’ve been privy to so far, and it seems he’s a man whose dreams were put on hold for the ambitions of his father.  If he’s been under his father’s thumb when it came to life choices and staying with the firm, he’s also been under Chuck’s thumb while at the firm.  What would it be like if her were able to break free from all of it and be the person he truly is?  How would he act, what would he do?  It’s rich ground that I hope we’ll eventually get to tread.

Before Kim even takes three steps from his door, Howard is already on the phone jockeying to keep the Mesa Verde account Kim brought in.  She runs back to her office to get them on the phone first, and the real struggle of the episode begins to reveal itself.  Will Kim be able to take Mesa Verde with her when she starts her own practice, or will they stay with HHM?  It would be huge if she could take them as her client, and it would mean she would be a one-client firm.  It’s not as big of deal for HHM, but it becomes a pride thing for Chuck when Howard lets him know what’s happened.  If Kim were to have left on her own without any connection to Jimmy, perhaps Chuck wouldn’t have reacted so intensely.  Chuck just cannot let anyone attached to Jimmy succeed, and so he pulls out all the stops.

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Mike on the other hand is still fixated on Hector.  He’s staking out the store Hector uses as his headquarters, using both his cop and sniper training to find patterns and opportunities for revenge.  It’s apparent he’s not going to just let this go.  Whatever shady business Hector has going on involves the ice cream driver with the gun from the opening sequence, and a warehouse in the industrial section of the city.  What’s Mike planning?  Whatever it is has something to do with the garden hose he’s turned into a tire spike strip with nails in it.  I’m guessing he takes out the tires of Hector’s car in a secluded spot, and then has a sniper nest ready to try and pick him off once the car is disabled.  We’ll find out soon what really happens.

Kim pitches her heart out to Mesa Verde, and it looks like she’s going to take them with her, but not if Chuck has anything to do with it.  The only way HHM can keep the Mesa Verde business is if Chuck can rescue Howard, but to do so, Chuck has to appear normal.  He must deal with the electricity and act like it does not bother him at all.  He uses reverse psychology, points out why Kim is the best option for Mesa Verde, and then shows them how much better equipped HHM is to handle their business needs.  It’s a deft display of working a customer, and it has the effect Chuck intended but at a huge personal cost.  He collapses the minute Mesa Verde leaves the office.

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Jimmy on the other hand is in full business mode, and with his film school nerds in tow, has finagled his way onto an army base so he can shoot a commercial.  He does it under the guise of an aged old war hero in a wheel chair, and his two nephews who want to see what kind of plane their grandfather flew in the war.  In reality the grandfather is a guy Jimmy defended for public masturbation dressed as a war hero, while the film school nerds use the wheelchair as a dolly, and the film equipment hidden in the wheelchair to shoot the commercial.  It’s Jimmy doing what Jimmy does best. 

Everything is going great for Jimmy and Kim, they have an office, she has a huge client, but then Chuck throws his wrench in things.  When Ernesto calls Jimmy to let him know how bad Chuck is, Jimmy comes over to help, but is greeted by stacks of file boxes from Mesa Verde when he gets there.  It’s a big poke in the eye, and Jimmy isn’t going to take it yet again.  What follows is a lovely montage sequence of Jimmy at a copy store doctoring Mesa Verde documents with a scalpel, a ruler, and some glue to change the addresses and make them look legit with the aid of a copy machine.  He’s sabotaging Chuck.  This is the comeuppance Chuck deserves for messing with Jimmy repeatedly, but more importantly for involving Kim.  It’s all going to blow up in Chuck’s face, and it will be bad.  He’ll lose the client, and most likely it’ll be so embarrassing he’ll no longer practice law, leaving him a recluse and shut in, or possibly worse.  I have a feeling the worst is yet to come.

TB-TV-Grade-A

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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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