BETTER CALL SAUL Review: “Gloves Off”

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Airtime: Mondays at 10PM on AMC
Episode: Season 2, Episode 4 (S02E04)

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Tweetable Takeaway: We learn a lot about Mike’s past, while Jimmy tries to stay out of trouble in this week’s #BetterCallSaul


We learn an awful lot about Mike in tonight’s episode of , and also see what happens in the aftermath of Jimmy’s poor decision to air his commercial behind Davis and Main’s back.

The episode starts in an intriguing way, and we’re shown the aftermath of something big. Mike has had the crap kicked out of him, but has a big stack of money to show for it. What happened to him and who did that to his face? The writers tease us at the beginning and then take the rest of the episode to come back around to show us how Mike has gotten into this mess.

We know Mike needs to earn extra money to help take care of his son’s wife and granddaughter, and it’s why he’s taken a higher paying gig from the veterinarian. It’s also how he’s connecting back up with Nacho. We saw all this last episode, and know Nacho wants to get rid of someone, only we find out that someone is the psychopath Tuco. Clearly Mike and Nacho don’t get rid of Tuco, since he plays a prominent part in Walter White’s escapades in Breaking Bad, but something major is about to take place.

Jimmy on the other hand is lucky the partners of Davis and Main don’t send him packing. It seems the other two would love to kick him out, but Cliff has a soft spot for Jimmy and allows him another chance. He’s going to be under a lot of scrutiny from here on out, and if he screws up one more time he’s done. The real problem is it seems Jimmy doesn’t understand how much trouble he’s in. Davis and Main is worried about their image, while all Jimmy can see is though he took a risk outside of the normal protocols of getting his bosses approval, the results were great and should justify the means. Sadly for him this isn’t how things work at a legit law firm.

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Not only is Jimmy skating on thin ice from here on out, but his bad decision making has come around and bit Kim in the ass as well. She has more to lose, since she’s the one who pitched Jimmy to Howard, and got Howard in turn to talk up Jimmy to Davis and Main. Howard and Chuck mete out a brutal punishment to Kim, and send her to no man’s land in the bowels of the basement of HHM to do the tedious and grueling work of document review. In lieu of being able to punish Jimmy, Kim is Jimmy’s surrogate who gets a brutal demotion for believing in him.

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Mike doesn’t like Nacho’s idea for taking out Tuco, but looks into assassinating him anyway. We see another familiar face from Breaking Bad in this episode when the gun dealer who sold Walt the weapons he uses in that show’s finale, shows up to sell a sniper rifle to Mike. And this is where we learn a little something about Mike that I don’t believe has been revealed before: Mike was a sniper in the Vietnam War. He’s clearly very familiar with the weapons and tactics of a sniper, and doesn’t really want to open up that part of his life again.

He convinces Nacho that killing Tuco is not the answer. It’ll only bring further scrutiny from the cartel, and may actually just get Nacho in as much or more trouble than he currently feels he’s in with Tuco strung out on meth all the time. This is where Mike’s problem solving genius really flowers again. He has an incredible plan for dealing with Tuco without killing him that’ll benefit everyone. Sure he’ll make less money than a hit would have brought, but it’s a cleaner solution.

Jimmy and Chuck have it out after Jimmy finds out about Kim’s punishment. Jimmy knows Chuck is messing with Kim to get back at him, so Jimmy pulls a trump card. He’ll quit the law if Chuck gives Kim her place back. It would basically be Chuck extorting Jimmy, which is a felony, but Jimmy pushes his buttons in an attempt to force Chuck to get down with him in the dirt of moral ambiguity. You can tell Chuck badly wants Jimmy to quit the law, but not on these terms. These two may share familial bonds, but they will never be brothers again. They are at war with each other, each trying to prove a point to the other. My guess is that they both lose in the end.

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Mike comes up with an idea to set up Tuco. He calls the police to report a fight with someone waving a gun around, then pulls into the restaurant parking lot and hits Tuco’s beloved car with his own. He provokes Tuco so perfectly, pushes all his buttons, and takes a serious beating, but not before the police see every bit of it and put Tuco behind bars for 5 to 10 years. He gets the desired effect, but his face is beaten to a pulp. Why does he do it this way? We know later down the road Mike goes all in, but right now he still seems to have a moral code, or line he won’t cross. Actually he and Jimmy both haven’t gone full in with their moral flexibility yet. Will they cross that line together? What pushes them over it? I can’t wait to find out.
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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

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