Monday, March 2, 2020

REVIEW: 'Better Call Saul' - Jimmy Makes a Deal with Lalo While Kim Tries to Use Empathy in Her Argument in 'The Guy for This'

AMC's Better Call Saul - Episode 5.03 "The Guy for This"

Jimmy's business enters uncharted territory. Kim's confidence is tested when she's faced with a legal problem only she can solve. Nacho navigates increased pressure from Gus. Mike continues to spiral.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of AMC's Better Call Saul.

"The Guy for This" was written by Ann Cherkis and directed by Michael Morris

Jimmy has had several run-ins with the criminal elements of this world. The show can at times feel like two different narratives that happen to exist in the same universe. However, it is much more complex than that because it is constructed around the idea that Jimmy draws in this temptation only to be terrified when he has to deal with Lalo and Nacho's latest request. Nacho's story across the series has highlighted just how difficult it truly is to leave a life of crime behind. He always wants to do right by his father. He wants to make him proud. And yet, he may live a hollow life because he has no passion in his world. It's simply one of desperation where he is fighting to stay alive and keep his family safe as well. He knows exactly how difficult and daunting that pressure can be. It's easy for him to be forced into submission. His bosses just have to threaten his father's life. Nacho wants to keep his dad safe. And yet, the inherent contradiction of his life means his criminal choices keep him estranged from his family. It's unsettling when Manuel enters Nacho's home. That highlights his empty life. There is no value there. It is shiny and new. And yet, it is dark and depressing as well. Nacho wants to help his father succeed and live happily but can't. He is caught between these two worlds. That is the thematic unity of this world. All of these characters feel themselves being pulled in so many different directions. They always aspire to have genuine reactions in any given situation. But that comes with no guarantee that people will believe them. It may be much easier for others to think they are being deceived because they have a genuine amount of skepticism in whatever is going on. Jimmy fears for his life during his first meeting with Lalo and Nacho. What they are asking for him to do isn't as easy as they make it out to be either. He is terrified to ask for eight thousand dollars as payment. He gets that money. But he also has to contend with Hank and Gomez from the DEA who don't want to be yanked around by a potential informant who may not have reliable information. And yes, there are so many conflicting agendas. Jimmy is caught up in the middle of it. Mike is as well. Mike just isn't tasked with anything noteworthy to do. He is still a dangerous threat in the world. No one can take advantage of him or force him into complying with something he doesn't want to do. But that internal anger is so costly as well. It runs the risk of destroying whatever he actually hopes to fill his life with. That too can define so many of these characters. It's easy for Jimmy to put on a performance as Saul Goodman. Hank laughs at the name. He doesn't view this as a lawyer worth his time. Saul hasn't built up a reputation. He is terrified by what his clients will potentially ask of him. He fears that Krazy-8 will be killed because of the arrangement he negotiates on his behalf. Saul goes above and beyond what Lalo asks of him. That is impressive. It just means Lalo will employ his services more frequently. He won't take no for an answer. Jimmy and Kim essentially want to be in control of their own lives and fates. And yet, they are flung around by the whims of others. That is the underlying tragedy of this story. It makes it cathartic to watch as they throw beer bottles from their balcony. They can be there for each other without having to say a word at all. They both have crummy and destructive lives. It's clear that Kim understands her pro bono clients better than the demands of Mesa Verde. And yet, she is beholden to the money that flows into the firm and what that requires of her. She takes many different approaches to getting this man to comply with a court order to vacate his home. She tries to be empathetic and real with him. But she hasn't built up that genuine compassion to be seen as such. The skepticism is all too important. People are inherently doubtful that others are true to their intentions. The guards are up. It's difficult to be open and vulnerable. That makes Jimmy and Kim's relationship so beautiful and strong even in silence. And yet, they may ultimately be nothing more than the ants who start this episode. They are simply one small part of an overall system focused on one central task. It is striking and remarkable to watch because it breaks down how the world actually works on a fundamental level. However, it also opens one's eyes to just how much is happening and how little control people may actually have over their fates. Jimmy and Kim can complain about their jobs. They may make moves to improve their sense of control. But the tragedy is always going to be present simply because of the world that surrounds them and the whims of those currently in power.