Author’s note: This article CONTAINS SPOILERS for the episode of discussion and all episodes of the series that have preceded it.
Episode 9 of the fourth season of Better Call Saul sees all the main plotlines of the season come to a head. Everything that has been building was addressed in this episode, and it was extremely tense. Jimmy and Kim’s relationship came to a serious tipping point after the two came to blows following Jimmy being denied his law license. In a breathtaking scene, captured brilliantly by Vince Gilligan sitting in the director’s chair, Seehorn and Odenkirk lay it all on the line with the emotion that has been mounting within their characters for the entirety of the season. Jimmy is of course triggered by the fact that he was denied his license, but there is more going on with him underneath the surface. He is still mourning Chuck’s death, shown by his complete dismissal of the topic altogether. He has buried that anger associated with his relationship with Chuck, and it lingers inside him. Kim can sense it, and she lets him know that she knows what is wrong with him. The scene ends with Jimmy saying of Kim, “Oh yeah, kick a man while he’s down!” to which she responds, “You’re always down, Jimmy.” Check. Mate.
Gilligan’s direction of that scene was excellent, and his presence could certainly be felt through the rest of the episode as well. He really films Jimmy with a sense of him being a tragic character, like a fallen hero. This season has done quite a bit to enhance my appreciation of Odenkirk. Next year could really see him win that Lead Actor Emmy. In the scene following their encounter, we see Kim and Jimmy somewhat rekindle their relationship. It is a suspenseful scene, because Gilligan takes a few minutes in silence to rest on the tension before moving them into striking a conversation and Kim offering a small boost in Jimmy’s confidence. I fear the two of them will push to make a major and risky play at Jimmy’s license in the coming episode and get themselves into trouble. This episode made clear that Jimmy is the desperate one of the two characters, yet Kim remains reluctant to leave his side. This will almost certainly be her downfall.
Nacho is in a touchy situation of his own, one that has been brought on by the arrival of Lalo Salamanca, Hector’s nephew. He has clearly come to take back control of the Salamanca operation from Nacho. Not only does this shake Nacho’s pride and stature, it strains Nacho’s relationship with Gus. Lalo brings Nacho with him to Los Pollos Hermanos, and Gus senses his power play. You can see the wheels turning in both Nacho and Gus’ heads as Lalo goes on a rant flexing his competency. They will surely seek a way to quickly temper Lalo tightening his grip on their working relationship.
The episode ends with Mike encountering a major crisis within his meth lab project. After a great success for the group of scientists, one of the men goes missing after pleading with Mike about missing his wife. Mike is going to have his hands full trying to either explain this to Gus or make sure that he doesn’t find out. It was still cool to see Mike figure out how the man escaped, using his uncanny tools of deduction. For the time being, however, it appears he should have just let the man see his wife.
Things are uncertain heading into the finale, with the show opting to up the ante for its characters rather than having them start to figure things out. With so many things in flux, it is good to know that at the very least Better Call Saul will be back for another season. I think it’s time to start thinking about what the end of this show will and should be. Another season or possibly one more after that should be the max, as it is becoming evident that these stories are starting to line up pretty even to where we expect them to be heading into the Breaking Bad timeline. Mike and Gus’ story has lost a lot of intrigue because their plot is simply completing the meth lab and building upon Gus’ empire. On the other hand, we want to see what will become of Nacho, and of course, Kim and Jimmy are two very beloved characters whom we can be certain will have very tragic ends to their stories. Next week’s finale could either be one small step or one very giant step in that direction.
Better Call Saul is currently airing Monday nights on AMC at 9/8c and the previous seasons are available for streaming on Netflix