TV Review: Better Call Saul: Season 1, Episode 4: Hero (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 4: Hero

PLOT: An offer from the Kettlemans’ gives Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) a windfall that allows him to further his vendetta against hotshot lawyer Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian).

REVIEW: “Upon this rock I shall build my church.” So says Jimmy McGill while counting the cash given to him by Mr and Mrs. Kettleman in order to keep his mouth shut about the million and a half dollars they’re hiding from the cops. While the preview at the end of last week’s episode showed that they would try to bribe him, it was left up in the air whether or not he would accept and truth be told, I honestly had no idea if he would or not. In the end, ol’ Slippin’ Jimmy came out to play and he accepted the bribe, but not before trying to convince them to give it to him as a more legit retainer.

More than anything, the episode was about Jimmy’s efforts to get respect, first from the Kettlemans, and then from his nemesis Hamlin. An early line from Mrs. Kettleman seemed to cut Jimmy to the bone, where she tells him, “you’re the kind of person guilty people hire.” This devastates him even though it’s coming from two insanely guilty people, not that they see themselves that way at all. This slight is what spurs Jimmy to take the money, so he can in effect buy himself respectability, although in the end it takes another appearance by his old Slippin’ Jimmy persona (who got a lengthy flashback in the teaser) to get him what he wanted.

This week’s episode is probably the closest the show has come to being a full-on comedy so far, with Jimmy almost sinking right into his Saul Goodman persona (with the genesis being his Slippin’ Jimmy fake name – Sol Goode), even going so far as to almost indulge in a flashy Saul-style suit, before opting for a conservative rip-off of the kind Hamlin wears. The episode largely focuses on his war with Hamlin, and his friendly rivalry/romance with Kim (Rhea Seehorn) although he doesn’t hesitate trying to poach her clients early-on.

Yet, as amusing as the episode was, this also did a lot in showing us Jimmy’s shadier side, even before he became Saul. Nowhere is this more evident than in the climax, where Jimmy hatches a masterful scam where he hires university kids to shoot a news report about Hamelin’s cease and desist (demanding he take down his rip-off billboard) only to have them capture his dramatic rescue of a blue-collar worker, who he naturally paid off to make him seem like a hero. This has consequences once his brother Chuck (Michael McKean) braves the electromagnetic elements (brilliantly criss-crossing between his POV and his puzzled neighbor’s) to get the newspaper Jimmy’s hiding from him to see what his crooked brother has been up to behind his back. It suggests a confrontation between the two siblings which will likely send Jimmy further down to the road to becoming Saul. A more ominous thread is left hanging where Nacho (Michael Mando) promises Jimmy that he ratting to the Kettlemans will have consequences – presumably dangerous ones, although it seems now that Mike (Jonathan Banks) has his eyes on Jimmy and may help him out of a jam (or put him knee deep in another one) if need be.

Again, this is another terrific episode. In only four episodes BETTER CALL SAUL has really distinguished itself from BREAKING BAD. This is actually getting to the point where you almost don’t have to have seen BREAKING BAD to enjoy SAUL – although obviously it still caters to that (massive) audience. I’m absolutely loving every second of it.

BREAKING BAD crossover: While visiting a tailor, Jimmy eyes the matching orange shirt and tie combo which will soon become part Saul Goodman’s trademark attire.


About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.