‘Better Call Saul’ Explores Brotherly Betrayal With “Pimento” (TV REVIEW)


With only two weeks left of Better Call Saul, Jimmy’s show is really bearing its teeth. Out the door is the elder law and the cute remote-control cars. Replacing them? A multi-million dollar class-action lawsuit and a Game of Thrones-level brotherly betrayal. Wow. Shit is getting serious, and I can’t get enough of it. As we learn more about Jimmy’s background (and it inevitably becomes more tragic), everyone else around him and how they fit into starts to get more interesting. Meanwhile, Mike cements himself as one of television’s calmest (and oldest) badasses – and Howard, the closest thing Saul has seen to a villain so far, gets a lot more likeable. One of the show’s best episodes so far. Here are my takeaways from Better Call Saul’s penultimate episode.

The Old Man

MIke’s role in this episode, albeit small, is a welcome change in tonality. Whereas Jimmy’s scenes are gloomy and bleak, Mike ain’t got time for that shit — it’s pure badassery in this one. After following a lead from the veterinarian from earlier in the season, Mike meets up with a couple younger criminals (both of whom come highly recommended) in a parking garage. They’re all there for the same job — it’s a protection job, it turns out — and Mike’s the only one not carrying a gun. But that doesn’t make him unprepared.

One loud-mouthed guy in particular won’t let this go. He’s got four guns and the old guy doesn’t have any, so clearly Mike must be in over his head on this job. Heh. After some back and forth, the young guy points one of his many weapons right at Mike’s head, challenging him to take it from him. Bad idea, young guy. Minutes later, the young guy is on the pavement, writhing in pain, the other guy on the job leaves in fear, and Mike rides away with the guy who hired all three of them by himself, pocketing all three salaries and embarrassing everyone around under the age of 70 in the process. It’s incredible.

Despite Jimmy’s strong showing in this episode, Mike’s scenes remain my favorite. He is a character unlike anyone else in the series, and he rivals Jimmy (and often surpasses him) as the most compelling in the entire show. The few scenes we’ve had where the two characters meet up — such as the interrogation scene earlier in the series — are far and away the best the show has to offer. With only one episode left in Saul’s first season, it’s frustrating that we haven’t seen more of that. But the show is clearly headed in that direction, so at least we have a lot to look forward to heading into next season. Expect the two to meet up early and often in season two as they both sink further into Albuquerque’s criminal underworld.

The Other Old Man

I’ll just say it: I owe Chuck an apology. I’ve been really, really hard on him the past several weeks. He’s been my weekly whipping boy since the show first aired. I hated his character, and I pulled no punches in telling people. But, that said, his character over the past two episodes has developed so fantastically, and Michael McKean has done such a good job with the more emotional side of the character (Chuck’s conversation at the end of this episode with Jimmy was on point from both actors) that I’ve actually enjoyed his role in the show these past two episodes. I mean, don’t get me wrong — I still hate that son of a bitch (although for entirely different reasons now), but I do think that he’s found his place in the show, and it isn’t just as a sandbag anymore.

His gimmicky electromagnetism ailment still rears it’s head fairly often, but it’s done in a way now that’s so absurd that I actually find it kind of funny (a suit jacket lined with a space blanket? Are we serious here?). It’s almost as if the show itself is making fun of how silly the concept has been from the beginning. But maybe I’m just laughing now because I don’t know what else to do. Either way, Chuck’s purpose in the series has grown and, as it has, my utter distaste for the character has dwindled quite a bit. Chuck has to disappear sometime (he’s nowhere to be found in Breaking Bad), but until he does, I don’t think I’ll hate having him around anymore.

Fallin’ Jimmy

“You’re still Slippin’ Jimmy!” Chuck says to his brother in the episode’s final scene, as it finally comes to light that the reason Jimmy hasn’t been hired by his brother’s law firm was actually because it went against Chuck’s wishes, not anyone else’s. Holy shit, Chuck. This is the purest form of betrayal.

For the past nine episodes (and presumably the past several years of Chuck’s life), we’ve watched as Jimmy has dedicated so much of his time to helping his brother overcome this bullshit electromagnetism “allergy” that we’re all sick of hearing about. He brings him food to eat. He brings bags of ice to keep that food cold, and tanks of propane for light, heat, and to cook anything he brought. He brings Chuck newspapers for entertainment and to make sure that, even in complete isolation, he’s never totally removed from society. It’s utterly selfless.

Before each visit, Jimmy stops by Chuck’s mailbox, where he leaves his watch and cell phone — the only connections he’d have to the outside world. From that point on, he is unreachable. Each time, when Jimmy grounds himself on the front porch and steps into his brother’s dimly-lit living room, he sacrifices his needs entirely for Chuck’s.

And, finally, we see how Chuck has decided to thank him. It is completely unjustifiable. I agree with Chuck when he says that Slippin’ Jimmy has never gone away — Breaking Bad fans know how this story ends, and Saul never really stops being a con man — but I disagree entirely with his reasoning. Jimmy has tried, time and again, to make something of himself. He’s got a law degree now. He managed to discover and develop a massive, multi-state class-action lawsuit almost entirely by himself. He has the chops to be successful, not just as a con, but in a traditional way, too. It’s the people around him that won’t let it happen.

Every time Slippin’ Jimmy manages to gain some footing, to try standing on his own again, somebody watching from the sidelines decides to step in and kick his legs back out from underneath him. This time around, it’s his own selfish brother. Jimmy’s dedicated and capable, but against the world — he’s just very, very outnumbered. It’s tragic. If you came into Better Call Saul expecting a comedy, you better look elsewhere. See you next week.

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