The greatest asset Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul have to their name is that they play the long game. Like a really good game of chess, they move their pieces into position, set up moves for a long, long way down the line.
Admittedly, Better Call Saul takes the slow approach far more than Breaking Bad did, primarily because this isn’t a show about drugs and gangs, this is a show about lawyers and people taking in rooms. It has the same flair, the same impeccable balance of writing, character and production, yet it knows what it wants to do and where it wants to go, which means that even the most inconsequential episode has a lot to enjoy.
Like Breaking Bad before it, and I’m not comparing the two, don’t watch BCS expecting it to be BB, it rewards you for your patience. Not that BCS is boring, on the contrary, it’s the most interesting show about people sitting and talking I’ve ever seen but when you do get to an episode that really hits the spot, then that’s because we’ve spent a whole bunch of episodes laying the foundation before it.
This week’s episode saw the audience reap the rewards in the best episode of the show to date. A nail-biting 50 minutes that whilst it unfurled its own shocks, set up a number of other plot threads for the future. It picked the fruit off the tree whilst planting a new one.
Where do I begin.
Mike deployed his spike hose, stopping the Salamanca fruit truck, tying up the driver and stealing the money in one fell swoop. He didn’t kill the driver and he only did it to try and get the police to investigate Hector. We found out some very exciting things.
- Hector is taking pills for some sort of condition 2. The driver didn’t see Mike but Nacho knew it was him, which is clearly going to make the season finale a doozy as the Salamanca family confront Mike. 3. Mike got some good samaritan killed
This final point, inadvertently getting an innocent man shot, reflects Sauls story. Unintended consequences. I can’t express my love for the final scene enough. Everything from the cinematography, the sound design, and music to the performances were all impeccable and gave the final moments a true hand to mouth shock moment.
This is where Jimmy’s Jimmyness has got him. He forged the documents to get Kim the job but Chuck knows Jimmy well and wasn’t buying it. Despite Kim pretty much knowing Jimmy had done it despite his feeble protests, she went ahead with the job.
That excellent scene in which Chuck confronts the both of them is a masterclass of Shakespearian performances and Kim sticking up for Jimmy was rooted in truth but also an elaborate lie to cover her own ass.
Things only went downhill from there. Kim suggested to Saul that Chuck would find even the slightest fault to find Jimmy out. Jimmy, one step ahead, paid off Lance the copier guy to stop him talking. Chuck came in and couldn’t get the confession out of him, he began to seethe and with an already rattled mindset began to feel faint.
What with the electronics surrounding him and the immense stress, Chuck fainted, smacking his head on the hard desk in the process.
The slow burn build up had been worth it just for that moment. An exquisite moment of genuine shock and awe as Jimmy stands in the shadows watching the scene unfold. We cut to black as he whispers that they should be calling an ambulance as Chuck lies immobile on the floor.
This is it, like Walter letting Jane die and the plane crashing, Jimmy’s coercing has gotten him to a horribly serious place and Chuck may or may not survive. I really can’t call it.
So we’ve set up for the finale now. Mike is surely going to get a call from the Salamanca’s out for revenge and Saul must now clean up his mess after his slipperiness gave his brother a serious injury/death?
I can’t wait for episode 10