TV Review: Better Call Saul: Episode 8: Rico (SPOILERS)
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 1, Episode 8: Rico
PLOT: Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) stumbles upon his biggest case yet when he discovers his elderly clients are being systematically overcharged by their retirement home.
REVIEW: With only two episodes to go after this, Better Call Saul's first season is quickly winding down. What's interesting about how the show has progressed is that despite the early episodes featuring cameos by Breaking Bad's Tuco, and the familiar desert locations, Better Call Saul has very quickly morphed into its own thing, which is very much a character piece. This isn't about thrills. Rather, it's a slow burn. The show-runners are deliberately luring us in to care about the two (Jimmy and Mike) formerly peripheral characters from Breaking Bad, even though we know both are ultimately doomed (although at least Jimmy survives his dealings with W.W).
This week almost functions as a road-not-taken moment for Jimmy, with it opening up with a flashback to him sharing the news of his successful attempt at the bar with his brother Chuck (Michael McKean) and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) – with us finally seeing that at one time the two were a romantic item. Yet, Jimmy's victory is short-lived once Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) shoots down his hopes of joining the firm as a lawyer. Despite this we're shown throughout that Jimmy really did have the talent to make it as a legit lawyer, with him stumbling upon a huge case out of genuine concern for his elderly clients. Once him and Chuck start working together, Jimmy proves himself to be a master negotiator and easily able to outfox the wily, coiffed attorneys sent by the retirement conglomerate to shut him down.
Now, considering how close we're getting to the end of the season, some viewers may be frustrated that Nacho (Michael Mando) hasn't come back yet, but the Sandpiper case, with its talk of Rico, is clearly going to be the thing that drives a wedge between Jimmy and his brother, and possibly Kim as well. The preview for next week's episode suggests Hamlin's firm is going to get involved and it's not much of a stretch to assume they'll shut Jimmy out, leaving him alone and bitter, which will nicely pave the way to his further seduction into being a mouthpiece for gangsters as the second season picks up. Chuck's last scene is especially significant as it suggests he's going to totally snap out of condition and once again take the reins at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. Again, it's a slow burn, but clearly co-creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have an endgame planned, and I'm glad to be along for the ride.
Breaking Bad Crossover: Mike's parallel story gets a fair bit of screen-time this week, with him going to the vet that patched him a few episodes ago for a line on some dirty work. It'll be interesting to see how this intersects with what Jimmy's doing now, but I have no doubt that by season's end Mike's going to be pretty close to the bad-ass enforcer we knew and loved on Breaking Bad. Anyone wanna bet Gus Fring is going to show up in the season finale?