Monday, August 20, 2018

REVIEW: 'Better Call Saul' - Jimmy Pitches a Plan to Mike but Gets Surprising Help in 'Something Beautiful'

AMC's Better Call Saul - Episode 4.03 "Something Beautiful"

Jimmy puts a risky plan into motion. As alliances shift, Nacho finds himself in the crosshairs. Kim contemplates her future.

Better Call Saul doesn't waste any time before revealing the contents of Chuck's letter to Jimmy. That letter was only introduced a week ago with Kim deciding to hide it instead of handing it over to Jimmy right away. She wanted to protect him from the further ridicule of his brother. But now, she sees the value in sharing it. She can't hold onto these secrets forever. Jimmy understands that it's better to just rip the bandaid clean off. They should just get this over with. That's the mentality that Jimmy has throughout that final sequence. He is reading this letter but he's not fully processing it. That's what makes it such a viscerally heartbreaking moment. To Jimmy, it is just words on a page. It's not his brother. It's not his actions. Chuck only giving Jimmy five thousand dollars in his will speaks more to who his brother actually was. That was a decision made by their disagreements over the years. And now, this letter contains everything that Jimmy ever wanted to hear from his brother. In it, Chuck talks about never being able to say this. It's unclear when he even wrote these words down. But he still wanted Jimmy to have it despite cutting him out of the will as much as he could while still making Jimmy feel included. It shows that there is love there. Chuck was proud that Jimmy was his brother and that he actually built something of his life. He managed to rise up out of the mailroom as a legitimate person and not Slippin' Jimmy. It's an emotional experience for Kim because she's actually listening to the words. She understands the meaning behind them and how transformative this could be for Jimmy. If he actually sees this as a true confession from his brother, he could follow on the straight-and-narrow path. He could be a genuine lawyer again knowing that there was love in his brother despite the animosity between them. But Jimmy isn't listening. To him, it's more profound to point to Chuck's actions when he was alive than the words in his death. Jimmy is essentially becoming the man that Chuck always feared he would become again. He is doing so as a way to say screw you to his brother. He got what he wanted by being sneaky and crafty. And now, he is fully embracing that once more even though he's not doing so with any purpose.

All of this comes at the conclusion of "Something Beautiful" as well. It comes after Jimmy and Kim have full days at work. Kim's is much more business as she is understanding the scope of her new endeavor with Kevin and Paige. She believed she could give them the personal touch they would need from a lawyer in order to mount this expansion across the entire region. But now, she's actually seeing the scope of their plans. Kevin is already looking to the future. That includes federal charters and expanding to all across the country. That's the success that he wants for his business. He wants to open locations everywhere. He has already drawn up the plans for the specific buildings in the target markets. He has built models of the designs. That helps Kim visualize all of the work that is about to be down for Mesa Verde. She goes into this meeting with her clients armed with a new paralegal and the mentality that she will still continue to do the majority of the work herself. She walks out of it with a new perspective. It's okay to share the burden of these responsibilities. She may not be fully listening to Kevin's business expansion plans. But she understands what she will have to do it all in order to best represent him. And that means having to be okay with unloading part of the workload onto someone else. Her new paralegal is more than capable of drafting this document. That means Kim can focus on other parts of her day. She can reflect back on this letter that is currently hidden amongst her paperwork. She doesn't know what's inside it. She worries that it's the latest spiteful action Chuck has taken against Jimmy. In death, it will be the last thing remembered by all. It's the last she hopes to interact with Howard. But instead, it's this beautiful thing that hits her much harder than Jimmy which is bound to send her spiraling because she simply doesn't know how to be comforting him right now. It may just be better for her to focus on her career.

Meanwhile, Jimmy is so focused on ripping off the copy machine business. He doesn't have some grand reasoning behind his plot to steal from them. He just sees a golden opportunity that he should exploit because no one else understands just how big it is. To the owners of this business, the figurines from grandma are just knick-knacks on the shelves that they can't throw away without tarnishing her memory. But Jimmy sees a payday because he knows there is a valuable market for these figurines. Jimmy is doing this because he sees an opportunity to make easy money. It's him reverting to his con man ways. He's not looking for honest employment. He instead wants to make money simply by stealing from people who don't know how well they have it. That's a key distinction that is so important to his character arc for the season. He presents this opportunity to Mike. He enjoys working with him. They are a solid team who trust the skills that the other brings to the table. Of course, Mike doesn't need the money. He is already on the Madrigal payroll and living a fulfilling life as a security consultant who also spends time looking after his granddaughter. He is willing to help Jimmy if there is a reason he is ripping off this business. There is nothing wrong with the plan that Jimmy has made. It's a solid idea. Mike just wants to know the reasoning behind it. He doesn't see a man mourning the tragic death of his brother. He still gives his condolences despite knowing just how tense their relationship was. But again, Mike was willing to help Jimmy hurt Chuck because there was a reason behind their feud. He could understand what Jimmy was asking of him. Here, it just seems like chaos for a quick payday. He can't rationalize that. Therefore, he doesn't partake in the job. That's a key distinction as well. Mike has the power to say no to Jimmy and that only infuriates Jimmy more. But it doesn't deter him either. He already has more connections that will allow him to get this job done.

After Mike says no, it's not like Jimmy is all of a sudden all alone in the planning of this job. He could easily do this himself and pocket all of the money. It would certainly be better than having to split it evenly with a partner. And yet, he still decides to team up with someone. He reaches out to Dr. Caldera. He is the guy everyone happens to go to for criminal connections for low-level jobs. Even he has a hard time selling someone on the value of this mission for Jimmy. And again, Jimmy is impatient and destructive. He explodes and breaks from the procedure of the way the doctor conducts his illegal business. He still is able to make this contact work though. It turns out to be Ira from Breaking Bad too. So, the show continues to pull from its vast resources of the original show. That further proves that the two worlds are clashing more and more with each passing episode. Of course, Ira is also very much a part of the plot of this specific episode. It's unclear if he will ever appear again even though he gets along well with Jimmy. The job is still full of complications. In fact, it's amusing to think that the owner of the store is also sleeping there because he has gotten into a fight with his wife over a vacuum he bought for her. It's easily a moment of levity during this very intense situation. But again, it's the show highlighting just how impulsive Jimmy has been since his brother died. In this moment, he wanted to steal and not wait. He didn't understand how people weren't compelled by the money involved in such a simple heist. He didn't do any recon though. He just learned all of this information from a job interview a week ago. It was a job interview he worked hard for and then purposefully tanked. So, the owners will clearly remember him. But he still succeeds in this endeavor. Sure, he has has to become involved as well. He can't leave the job solely to Ira. And yet, the car distraction is just what's needed to make everything else go smoothly. It shows that this is something Jimmy is quite good at which only spells further doom for his future. Even with the letter he gets from Chuck, it doesn't sway him against becoming Saul Goodman. That's the incredible tragedy of the entire series that is very painful to watch in this specific moment.

Elsewhere, Gus is putting his own long con into motion. He didn't kill Nacho. In fact, he is using him in order to further his own agenda. He is able to stage a hit on Salamanca's men. He makes it appear as if Arturo has been killed by a rival drug trade and that Nacho is barely clinging to life. The cousins arrive and manage to save him before he dies out there in the desert. But it's so masterful watching the show operate in silence as Victor and Tyrus stage this fake crime scene. It's very intense as Victor drives over the spikes while going full throttle. It creates so much destruction for this car. They work overly hard to make this such a brutal scene of chaos and confusion. Sure, it may be too lethal for Nacho to have reasonably gotten away. And yet, the cousins aren't thinking about that. They are just trying to get the information of who hit their uncle's business. That's Bolsa's concern as well. He now wants Gus to start doing fake runs to see if someone has cracked their operation. He doesn't want any more operations to get hit. He doesn't want any more product lost. And yet, the product wasn't lost here. Gus took it. Bolsa suggests that maybe they should start getting drugs from their side of their border instead of solely taking from Eladio in Mexico. Gus is already putting that plan in motion. Sure, Gale's return here could read as nothing more than fan service. But it's also clear that Gus is meticulously putting this plan into motion. Gale is eager to start working for Gus. He can make a better product than the samples currently given to him. He will eventually get to do that. It will still end in tragedy for him. But right now, Gus is proving himself to be very aware of the world. That stands in stark contrast to Jimmy who is operating with tunnel vision on a very specific task. He can't see anything from any other perspective. Meanwhile, Gus is able to take an unexpected complication and completely run with it in order to disrupt his business so that he walks away with more power.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Something Beautiful" was written by Gordon Smith and directed by Daniel Sackheim.
  • This is going to be the beginning of a long-standing relationship between Ira and Jimmy. When Ira starts his own pest-control business that allows him and his employees to steal from the homes they fumigate, they rely on Saul to represent them as their lawyer. And so, Ira may actually be encouraging these impulses for Jimmy as he finds another person who is eager to make easy money by stealing from people who don't know the price of the items in their homes or businesses.
  • That's Gilmore Girls alum Keiko Agena as Kim's new paralegal. She seems very competent but also eager to please her new boss. She's willing to be a driver in addition to her legal responsibilities. Meanwhile, she has to make it known and get approval before doing anything. That may make her a great addition to the team. She is hard-working which has to be a quality Kim appreciates right now.
  • Dr. Caldera is also the physician Nacho is taken to in order to fix his bullet wounds. He's the person who connects so many of the players in this world. But it's important to note that he has a code as well. He enjoys connecting people for small-level operations. He doesn't want to get involved with the cartel. He hates Nacho for inviting them into his life. And thus, he wants nothing more to do with him after he wakes up.
  • Nacho is also warned that one of the bullets could have nicked his bowels. There is no way of knowing without getting images. That's technology that Caldera doesn't have right now. He is performing surgery in a warehouse with two individuals who don't speak English well. He still saves Nacho's life. But it will also be fascinating to see if there is any health-related consequences to this action now that he's working for Gus.
  • Kevin and Paige didn't attend Chuck's funeral because they had their disagreements with him as a lawyer. And yet, they did send their condolences to the family. It was the right and respectable thing to do. They make sure to ask how Jimmy is doing during this meeting as well. There isn't a whole lot Kim can say though. This is a professional relationship and she herself doesn't fully understand how Jimmy is processing all of this.