TV Review: Better Call Saul - Season Two - Episode 9
This recap/review of Better Call Saul is written with the expectation that everyone who reads this and comments below will have seen the episode already. Thus, if you've yet to see the episode in question, DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER. SPOILERS!
EPISODE: Season 2, Episode 9: Nailed
PLOT: Mike (Jonathan Banks) takes his feud with Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) to a dangerous new level. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s (Bob Odenkirk) Mesa Verde fraud has dire consequences for Chuck (Michael McKean).
REVIEW: To me, this penultimate episode of Better Call Saul’s second season is one of the best Vince Gilligan and company have ever produced - comparing favorably to some of the very best installments of Breaking Bad. Written and directed by series show runner Peter Gould, from the opening with Mike ripping off Hector to the final image of a possibly dead Chuck lying on the floor of a twenty-four hour copy shop, from start-to-finish it’s a nail-biter.
What’s really intriguing about Better Call Saul is how invested we - as viewers - have gotten into the entire cast, not just Breaking Bad favorites like Mike and Jimmy. In fact, both men are so early-along their own paths that they barely resemble the men they become within a few years, making this less of a spin-off and more of a drama on its own accord.
A few days ago, Odenkirk appeared on an Emmy panel discussing the second season, saying that he felt this was Rhea Seehorn’s showcase and he was right. As in other episodes, she proves to be the most wildly unpredictable character, and her acting when Chuck reveals to her the truth behind Jimmy’s forging of the Mesa Verde documents is masterful. While Chuck’s talking the camera lingers on her, and we know she 100% believes exactly what she’s being told. But, most intriguingly she doesn’t seem to care and immediately takes Jimmy’s side. She knows that while his methods were amoral, his actions have put her on the map professionally and she’s not about to flush this opportunity down the toilet. She’s so vicious with Chuck that we can see part of her wants some HHM payback of her own, but then - in the car with Jimmy - she punches him repeatedly in the shoulder conveying the conflict she feels. She loves him for helping her, but she despises his methods and the fact that he put her in such a morally gray area. Of the entire cast, Seehorn’s Kim has become my favorite - even more than old Slippin’ Jimmy, which says something.
Meanwhile, Mike’s still far from the cold-blooded gunman he is by the time Breaking Bad rolls around - going out of his way to spare Salamanca’s truck driver. In the end though, his actions are for naught with Michael Mando’s Nacho teaching him a valuable lesson by explaining to him that by sparring the truck driver he got an innocent bystander killed. By the end of this episode, Mike’s starting to see that in order to play with the cartel, he has to play by their rules and can’t try to take the moral high-ground. This position is untenable.
So now, Jimmy, Kim and Mike are all willing to get their hands dirty if it means winning. The one hold-out is Chuck, who holds on to his ethics but loses his dignity in trying to reign-in Jimmy and possibly his life. When the episode ends Chuck’s in bad-shape, having taken a rough fall, with it possible he’s either broken his neck, sustained brain-damage, or on the upside just a concussion - but I have a feeling he’s in big trouble. If this was his last scene, McKean went out on a high-note, with his frantic questioning of the bribed copy guy showing just how out of his element he is with Jimmy.
Breaking Bad Crossover: Not too much this week - although it’s possible I missed something. Anyone?