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Better Call Saul – Fifi Review

"Indifference in the final stretch."

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.

- Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 8 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC
Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

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.

- Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 8 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC
Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

Chicago Sunroofs

  • To clarify my thoughts on Jimmy crossing a line, I get the need for escalation at this point, but it all comes back to my problem with Jimmy’s character this season. Based on Season 1, he’s not a child that you can’t look away from for fear that when you turn back something will be broken. Killing me, Better Call Saul.
  • I feel like I missed the part where Howard got back to being on a “What’s up?” basis with Kim.
  • Kim’s swivel after she high five-ed Jimmy was awesome. Seeing Kim be happy as a result of her hard work is one of the few joys of Season 2.
  • The pause between Howard talking about how he wanted to start out on his own right after college and him saying “Dad talked [him] out of it” was great.
  • For a while, it was fun to entertain the idea that Chuck had just gone crazy when he walked past Howard asking him for help, but of course it was followed by him proclaiming that he would go into HHM (to take care of Mesa Verde).
  • Jimmy doing another commercial made sense, but it felt like nothing special was added to this scene except maybe spectacle.
  • Chuck thanking Jimmy for staying with him after Jimmy altered the Mesa Verde documents felt a little obvious.
  • Harping on Chuck thanking Jimmy, some might say it works as a way of balancing the fact that he has these negative feelings towards his brother, but it’s a pretty weak attempt when he always works against Jimmy (no matter who gets in the way).
  • The whole time I was watching the single take opening scene I was thinking, “this is kind of neat, I guess; the music’s great,” but the reveal of the popsicle sticks in the ground really got me.
  • I think one of the reasons Mike’s story feels so weird sometimes is because the relationship between his storyline and what Jimmy and Kim are up to isn’t always clear, especially as Mike’s journey becomes more Breaking Bad than Better Call Saul.
  • Thinking about how the Mesa Verde error comes back to Jimmy, I wonder if someone else suffering for his choice will cause him to try to exonerate them (directly or indirectly implicating himself).
  • The last time I saw Brendan Fehr (the Air Force officer) was in Samurai Girl. Yeah, I watched that.
  • The popsicle stick kicker
  • Kim's hard work paying off (for a little bit, anyway)
  • Jimmy going through with his cost-sharing arrangement with Kim (despite his concerns)
  • Jimmy's continued mischaracterization
  • Imbalance between show's multiple stories
  • Chuck's one note antagonistic relationship with Jimmy

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