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Better Call Saul – Rebecca Review

"A weak rebound."
“Rebecca” was one of those episodes that you don’t necessarily enjoy (despite its strengths), but which manage to avoid frustrating you (despite its flaws). Better Call Saul has always excelled at pulling something extra from the set decoration, cinematography, and the actions of its actors, but these didn’t add up to make an episode that mattered, an inherent issue with Season 2. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s problematic characterization was front and center, but I guess I’m just starting to numb to it now, because the usual flashes of “Why would they do that?” didn’t last the entire episode. Even this was a step up from “Gloves Off,” but it’s a shame the series wasn’t able to rally after sandbagging its story last week. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I don’t believe the Jimmy we’re getting in Season 2 was below the surface of the Jimmy in Season 1. Yes, he was never checked during the first season like he is now (by Chuck, Kim, Cliff, Erin, etc.), but it never crossed my mind that he would be unable to “assimilate” to a life without shifty behavior. This made him bribing the clerk while Erin was standing right next to him seem kind of off, as it further characterized him as a persistent child who doesn’t know any better. Adding insult to injury, Kim had basically just told him to “prove [he] can go…one day without breaking the rules of the New Mexico Bar Association,” and it was like the show was saying, "well, guess he really can't." I think one of the big issues of this season is that they’re really pushing the idea of Jimmy having a problem. Better Call Saul is starting to treat him like he’s a recovering drug addict, which is coming across as disingenuous because of how much time they devote to it in each episode. [caption id="attachment_80912" align="aligncenter" width="600"]- Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC - Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC[/caption] Speaking of Jimmy acting like a child who doesn’t know better, “Rebecca” also portrays him as a child who doesn’t know when to stop. Despite Kim’s attempt to end the discussion about her being in doc review in “Gloves Off,” he comes back with a plan to get her out. Is it an incriminating page from the Sandpiper documents that he’ll let her take the credit for finding? Not quite. He comes to her with the idea of suing HHM for extortion, which would essentially be career suicide. Like, what? How could he possibly think that that was A) a good idea, and B) something she would actually go for? More than anything else, though, I was bothered by the backstory to Chuck and Jimmy’s relationship. Not that I wanted Chuck to occupy the defined role of antagonist, but I liked the idea of his concept of Jimmy being largely unfounded (save for Jimmy's con-man past). Despite thinking it could have used a bit more development, I enjoyed how Chuck saying Jimmy wasn’t “a real lawyer” came from Chuck’s stubbornness; his refusal to believe Jimmy could change or be worthy of practicing law. As it was, this storyline came across as late and unnecessary, especially because it added to the show emphasizing Jimmy’s almost-diagnosable behavior. Going back to Kim, she spent a lot more time in the spotlight this time around, to positive and negative results. As a person who has aggressively networked before (and someone who should be doing so right now…), it was hard not to relate to her reaching out to anyone and everyone who could possibly help her. The show also took full advantage of us hearing only her side of the conversation, crafting stories more interesting without the blanks filled in (“Yep, bourbon shots. That was me.”). However, because all this stemmed from Jimmy’s weird characterization (and she’s still in the “doghouse” with Howard), it feels like this storyline is already a bit drawn out. Maybe this is all set up for her leaving HHM at the end of the season, but I'm not sure how they're going to sustain interest in her storyline without making it feel clunky. [caption id="attachment_80913" align="aligncenter" width="600"]- Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC - Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC[/caption] Hector Salamanca’s arrival was somewhat disappointing, but it wasn’t necessarily because of its execution. I loved the expression of “oh, crap” Mike had on his face after Hector left, but, as I said last week, Mike being drawn further and further into the world of crime and drugs seems played out. This led to my disinterest in Hector’s role in that journey, as even if there’s more to how he became confined to a wheelchair than we thought in Breaking Bad, he’s just another signposted stepping stone Rebecca’s introduction to the series was a little more interesting, as it raised some questions about her relationship with Chuck. Her actually enjoying Jimmy's company (when Chuck thought he was going too far) makes me think Chuck played an active role in souring or even ending their marriage. Considering Rebecca is really the first new element to Season 2, I'm hoping she's not simply dead, as her making an appearance at this point in Chuck and Jimmy's lives would probably shake things up for the better. “Rebecca” wasn’t the rebound from “Gloves Off” that I wanted it to be. Since the beginning of the season, I have been waiting for something to take over as the standalone through-line to make the story matter, but my issues with the Season 1 finale have managed to persist despite some strong and interesting moments. We're already at the halfway point of Season 2, and again I'm left wishing the creators had let Jimmy's story end last year. [caption id="attachment_80911" align="aligncenter" width="600"]- Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC - Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC[/caption]

Chicago Sunroofs

  • Chuck putting the new bulb in his mouth was a cool way of pushing the fact that he was around electricity.
  • Jimmy referencing Kim ("Well, gal...singular, actually") out of all the people he met during his first week at HHM was sweet.
  • So much for the opening sequences just anticipating Saul Goodman. This one showcased one of his billboards!
  • I love how Howard’s swivel-turn to greet the people from Mesa Verde switched him from casual work mode to battle mode.
  • To harp on my point from last week about Jimmy not wanting the Davis & Main job, the micromanaging is actually starting to make the position objectively undesirable. If this was present before Jimmy embarked on his rebellious journey, this might not have struck me as that big of an issue, but it being a part of the  show now makes his decision to leave (whenever that happens) seem too easy.
  • I really liked how Erin told Jimmy to cut the crap when she asked, “Are we doing this or not?” I know I said I wanted Omar to become complicit in Jimmy’s shenanigans, but now I want Erin--Better Call Saul’s own Jiminy Cricket--to succumb to the dark side.
  • Having Bill give Jimmy perspective on his job at Davis & Main was a good move, but with everything else going on we didn't get to see the result of this.
  • Kim gets bonus points for motivating me to network more aggressively (but politely).
  • I wonder if Chuck's story to Kim about papa McGill was the whole truth. I also wonder how sincere he was in his offer to put in a good word for her.
  • Mike's bruise actually looked like someone just applied powder to his face.
  • With each connection to Breaking Bad, the novelty of inserting these characters into Better Call Saul decreases. Tuco's appearance in "Uno" was unprecedented, and he added an unexpected danger to Jimmy's plan that felt so right. Hector, on the other hand, is being bogged down by my problems with Season 2, which doesn't bode well for the probable Jesse Pinkman cameo.
  • Kim trying to save herself
  • The potential for Rebecca to shake things up
  • The show emphasizing Jimmy's "issue"
  • Backstory to Chuck's opinion of Jimmy
  • Mike's storyline falling flat, even with the appearance of Hector "wheelchair bomb" Salamanca


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