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The balance between its multiple storylines is sometimes really off with Better Call Saul. When it ignores Jimmy’s problem-ridden transformation it can be refreshing, an unfortunate statement on the need for Season 2. But I feel like the show too often splits what would normally be in one episode into two. This could be because it’s hard to negotiate giving Kim, Mike, and Jimmy substantial moments in each episode, or it could be the result of the show simply not having enough for each character to do, but it contributes to the very uneven experience of Better Call Saul this season. (I mean, just look at the range of scores I’ve given the show.)
The first episode of Season 2, “Switch,” suffered from the “splitting one episode’s material into two” issue that I had with Mike’s storyline in “Fifi.” Waiting until the episode after “Switch” to have Daniel receive assistance from Mike felt like a move to compensate for the show not having enough for a full season, and I had a similar feeling about the way Mike spent “Fifi” tailing Hector and preparing his spiked hose. Now, I have no problem with a strategically planned story that fills the season, but this move made Mike’s presence in the episode feel like its main purpose was so we didn’t forget about him, rather than to move things along.
Continuing with the episode’s issues, Jimmy’s journey had plenty, but I was a little more indifferent to them this time around. It was pretty tiring for one of the first things he said to Kim in the episode to be something underhanded that she would never do, and though the sequence of him changing the addresses on the Mesa Verde documents was fun, it was frustrating for Jimmy to cross a line and sabotage HHM/his brother. Up until this point his indiscretions haven’t been malicious (at least to my knowledge), so not seeing the fallout from this move was perhaps the only thing that prevented it from being obnoxious.
I had a much more negative reaction to Chuck’s role in the episode. Better Call Saul is making Chuck venturing out into the world because of Jimmy too obvious, which made Chuck collapsing after enduring the electricity of HHM feel like dead space. I just don’t like the prolonged antagonism between the two. I’ve said before that ending their relationship with Jimmy walking away from Chuck in “Pimento” felt so right, as we only got a brief look at the Chuck’s deep rooted anger and mistrust. The only thing seeing it on a weekly basis does is give the series the opportunity to make their relationship one note, as the number of balls the show has to juggle means it doesn’t always focus on both sides of their relationship.
Jimmy’s relationship with Kim was also suspect in this episode. I’ve written before about how Jimmy’s suggested methods often run counter to his feelings for her, and here we saw him go into a cost-sharing situation with Kim despite the camera lingering on him suggesting that he’s concerned about their situation. This could be interpreted as him being worried about their ability to lease the space, but it seemed more like a sign of him already knowing their partnership is untenable.
Despite me not having many positive things to say about the episode, “Fifi” wasn’t that bad. There was just a lot of dead air and overplayed characterization. Jimmy’s issues might come out in full force when everyone starts freaking out over the Mesa Verde “error,” but I might balance this internally with the fact that the season is almost over.