Better Call Saul – Episodes 7 & 8, “Something Stupid” & “Coushatta”

Author’s note: This article CONTAINS SPOILERS for the episodes of discussion and all episodes of the series that have preceded them.

During my vacation-induced absence of last week’s review, a lot has changed in the world of Better Call Saul.  At the beginning of episode 7, we saw the show make a 9-month time jump, set to one of Saul‘s infamous montages.  In this one, Kim and Jimmy are seen leading two totally separate lives, highlighted by the use of split screen for much of the scene.  It was a beautifully constructed scene by the team, as usual, and they shared a thirty minute talk on its architecture on the official Better Call Saul Insider Podcast, which you can listen to for some great insight.  Now in present day, Jimmy is seen still slinging cell phones on the streets when he is confronted by an undercover cop trying to get Jimmy to stop selling to drug peddlers.  Huell comes around the corner and, thinking Jimmy is in danger, assaults the officer.  This sets in motion everything to come for the remainder of that episode and for this week’s as well.  Jimmy is forced to go to Kim for help in the defense of Huell, due to his still being over a month away from retaining his law license.  Kim accepts but not in any way to help Jimmy.  She is in this for the challenge, for something to prove.

For the remainder of the process, her and Jimmy appear to be further apart than ever.  Jimmy is now sleeping in his office at the hair salon, and Kim is entrenched in working on the case.  Having felt insulted by the prosecutor, she has now become 100% invested in getting Huell off with no jail time per Jimmy’s request.  The scheme they come up with to pull it off in this episode is nothing short of brilliant.  The way the show presents the two of them pulling off this victory is amazing television.  Rhea Seehorn walks into the prosecutor’s office and absolutely dunks on her.  In a later scene, the prosecutor is frantic after their office is filled with letters from angry civilians, which are of course actually her own creation.  Her and Jimmy set up all these hundreds of people, who are angry with the potential of their beloved Huell’s prosecution.

Jimmy is seen with his disciples in earlier seasons, working the prepaid phones with acting performances as the prosecutor dials numbers on the letters in her investigation.  These scenes leading up to the prosecutor’s eventual surrender are a total flex for the characters of Kim and Jimmy, in addition to the powerhouse acting on display from Seehorn and Bob Odenkirk.  While the rest of the cast continues to do excellent work, this season more than ever has thrust the spotlight onto Odenkirk and Seehorn, and they are carrying the series with ease at this point.

The end of this episode sees Kim feeling empowered by her victory, and she comes onto Jimmy in a big way.  This appears to be their first romantic contact in a very long time, but it doesn’t read as being romantic.  The morning after they sleep together, Kim tells Jimmy she wants to do it (a case) again.  Kim is now in the driver’s seat of their relationship, both in the practice of law and romantically.  Knowing Jimmy the way we do, it can be foreseen this will be an issue for him.  The two of them have huge egos, and they are constantly looking to impress each other and themselves with their work in the law.  What I would expect to see in these next two episodes is Jimmy pushing back against Kim’s power play, and likely damaging their relationship for good.

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Giancarlo Esposito in Better Call Saul, “Something Stupid”

Gus had a very key scene in last week’s episode following Hector waking from his coma.  When the nurses were working with Hector to determine his motor function ability, he made a telling move by straining to knock over the cup of water off his table so he could get a better look at one of the nurses.  Gus visits later on, and his only concern is to know if the Hector of old still exists inside of this paralyzed body, trapped and subject to Gus’ inflicted suffering.  When he sees tape of Hector’s play with the cup of water, we can see in Esposito’s face the connection he makes, knowing Hector is still the same man mentally and how thrilling this is to him.  It is a moment that has been building up all season, and now that this connection has been made, it will be interesting to see where they leave the Fring-Salamanca rivalry at the end of the season.

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Jonathan Banks in Better Call Saul, “Coushatta”

Mike has had somewhat of a more uneventful past couple episodes, as he’s been preoccupied with overseeing the construction of Fring’s lab.  After there were hiccups seen in last week’s episode, now nine months later it is clear they have come a long way in the process.  However, Mike isn’t taking any chances, and he let’s one of the men go from the operation with a threat to another.  This portion of the show is a little less intriguing because there isn’t much uncertainty to the proceedings.  We know the lab gets finished, and we know Gus and Mike continue their working relationship past its completion.  I am hoping that as the season wraps up we get to see something that pulls us back into the story of Mike and Gus leading up to where we pick them up in Breaking Bad.

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Michael Mando in Better Call Saul, “Coushatta”

Finally, Nacho returned to the proceedings this week after being sidelined following his near death experience while covering his tracks in working for Gus.  Now nine months later, Nacho has taken control of Salamanca’s business in a big way, acting in much the same way we used to see Hector oversee the trade.  It is interesting to see Nacho now running their business knowing he is working under Gustavo’s thumb.  However, at the end of the episode, we see his cage rattled a bit when he is met in their shop by a new Salamanca running the kitchen, likely there to keep an eye on Nacho.  We will be watching closely to see how this plays out for Nacho in the next couple weeks.

Entering the final two episodes of the season, I am very happy with how things are proceeding with the series.  Anchored by Jimmy and Kim at the center, with Mike, Gus, and Nacho acting as support, the series is managing to continue to be an exceptionally presented prequel to its predecessor.  However, referring to it as such is an injustice, as Better Call Saul has solidified itself as a masterpiece all its own.

★★★★

Better Call Saul is currently airing Monday nights on AMC at 9/8c and the previous seasons are available for streaming on Netflix

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