Martin Carr reviews the eighth episode of Better Call Saul season 2…
It took me a while to work out how Saul works. To begin with I figured it was the usual mix of ongoing story stretched over several episodes to form a cohesive whole, but this week the penny dropped.
Sure there is the continuing saga of Kim and Jimmy, Mike and Salmanca or Chuck and whoever seems to wander into his limited sphere. But more than anything Saul is all about the long game. That laid back pacing and fragmented structure makes everything seem less important, more placid and ultimately satisfying as a result. Michael McKean’s Chuck remains as interesting two seasons in as he ever did, while Kim is Jimmy’s perfect foil.
Odenkirk meanwhile proves once more that he may be underhanded but he has the best of intentions. Whether that means stitching up his own brother or advising Kim to steal clients from the law firm she is leaving. What keeps Jimmy intriguing beyond the underdog status, inherent charm and ingenuity is that grey area where self-interest and self-promotion collide. Because however much he may plead innocence, you always get the impression that McGill has an ulterior motive.
Perfect case in point is the whole ‘Mesa Verde’ client fiasco which finds Kim at loggerheads with H & H over who they retain. McGill advises keeping them for Kim’s own benefit, when you can’t help thinking how such a coup would also help Jimmy. Similarly when the opportunity slips through her fingers, it is Jimmy who takes advantage of the unethical situation and exploits where others might think twice. It is this blurring of the moral and ethical boundaries which not only helps keep us interested, but ultimately points towards what Jimmy will eventually become.
Mike meanwhile is drifting further towards the fringes of his Breaking Bad persona as illustrated all too clearly in this week’s episode. What retains our interest with Mike is the juxtaposition of his family and business. There can be no denying that he is mixed up in some shady stuff, but it his reasons for doing that which act as the characters redemption in most instances. Banks also does a good line in world weary and stoic resignation. Whether tailing drug lord’s or using elements of his job to keep the grand-daughter entertained. It is the two sides of his persona which keep us focused, beyond our knowledge of Mike’s final endgame scenario.
What ‘Fifi’ as a title really means though beyond the means for McGill to pull a fast one in some capacity remains unknown. If I told you that it refers to the name of a B29 flying fortress then trust me when I say your enjoyment would remain undiminished. Even now I have no idea why the episode gained the name, since relevance plays no part here. However that being the case it could be argued that this merely illustrates the lure of Saul two seasons down the line. Because for every straight forward narrative choice which Gilligan and co make, there are moments of curveball madness that have you scratching your head. Which is no bad thing when you think about it.