[rating=8.00] “Gloves Off”
Mike is unequivocally the most frightening man on television. This week’s Better Call Saul was a reminder that though he’ll do whatever it takes to keep his family afloat, there’s only so far he can watch himself fall, demonstrating the true underbelly of the entire series. After last week’s episode where we saw his daughter-in-law lose it over a so called “bullet hole” on the side of her house, it became critical for him to be able to provide a certain lifestyle for the fractured family that a man of his means cannot reach. Not only do we see the tinged region of Mike’s limits, but we learn he likely served in Vietnam, a lesson in character history and reasoning behind some of his more colorful talents.
This works for the audience as we’re provided with instant gratification on the thrill front, whereas with Jimmy it’s more of a guessing game. Despite the fact that we know where he ultimately ends up, we can’t predict what Mike will do next, a fact that is both upsetting and exhilarating all at once. Mike’s opening scene was shot beautifully; walking into the house, he limps in through the darkness, cash cascading onto the end table as he ices down his face. With a slip of his hand, and an off putting dimmed light, he reveals a pummeled face and a satisfied winch. It’s like the show runners are just throwing art in our faces. “Do you see it? Do you see it yet?!” We if we say no, will it keep hitting us harder? Because, damn.
Kim’s soon-to-be dramatic exit was hinted at tonight as she dealt with the repercussions of Jimmy’s commercial. It’s frustrating because on one hand we know that Kim holds all the power, but on the other she’s usually justified when she’s angry and she put herself on the line for Jimmy. By the end of the episode he’s bargaining with Chuck to get her back in good standing while readily willing to give up his law career. The only end goal for Jimmy is to please Kim to the point where she’ll let go of all the misgivings she’s harboring and finally accept the slippin’ Jimmy we’ve all come to adore.
Jimmy and Chuck have a minor reunion that started with anger and wound up permeating into leniency due to Chuck’s inability to deal with the outside world. We know there’s compassion in Jimmy; it mostly comes out when matters concern Chuck, but there’s also a rage that will not quickly be quelled on its own accord. Again just as with the explosive season finale we’re reminded that Chuck does not wish to see Jimmy succeed. Though we’ve yet to find the true motivation behind his reasoning, there’s certainly a tinge of jealousy in his reactions to Jimmy’s newfound success.
As promised by the air of mystery surrounding last week’s ender we were subject to another Breaking Bad drop in by none other than Tuco (as well as a brief cameo from sandwich aficionado Krazy-8). Nacho’s deception is unsurprising considering the fact that we won’t see him later on in the BB universe. What’s worrisome for the Better Call Saul-verse is that this isn’t the same Tuco we see later; the crazy that he demonstrates is just the tip of the iceberg and he’s capable of so much more. Nacho is clearly aware of the danger he’s in by continuing to associate with Tuco, fortunately he’s also acutely trusting of Mike’s abilities. We’ve likely seen the end of Tuco on Saul (save for perhaps a later season). While he’s sitting in prison quietly waiting for revenge, we’re pretty much guaranteed that Nacho will be calling on Mike again.
Jimmy has again put himself in a position where he could easily slink into his life of Saul. Since it’s only episode four of season two there’s sure to be a loophole that he can soon exploit to get his ducks back in a row. There’s no guarantee he’ll hold on to Kim, in fact it seems more likely he’ll attempt to redeem himself (again) to get back into her favor. In episodes to come we’ll surely feel the wrath of both Davis & Main and HHM as Jimmy attempts to assimilate to a group mindset.
While the episode felt a little slow, it didn’t take away from the overall arc of where they are taking the series as a whole. Mike’s performance was flawless, and Jimmy’s hurry to smooth things over was a reminder that he’s not quite ready to fully commit to the fabled adult world. The slow burn to “Saul” is genuinely satisfying, a reminder that maybe the best things really do come to those who wait.