Monday, April 13, 2020

REVIEW: 'Better Call Saul' - Kim Fights for Jimmy and Everything She Is Passionate About in 'Bad Choice Road'

AMC's Better Call Saul - Episode 5.09 "Bad Choice Road"

In the wake of Jimmy's traumatic misadventure, Kim takes stock of what is important. Jimmy attempts to return to business as usual, but it's more difficult than anticipated. Gus and Mike set a plan in motion.

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.

"Bad Choice Road" was written by Thomas Schnauz and directed by Thomas Schnauz

There is no changing one's path in life. That is Mike's view on the world. He was a corrupt cop until his son was killed. And now, he is working for Gus Fring to manage the various power moves he is plotting to expand his reach in the cartel. He has always been dealing with life or death consequences in his life. He is not without humanity or compassion though. He is doing everything in support of his family even though he must keep them at a distance from his work. He saved Jimmy's life several times out in the desert. He also makes the argument that Nacho is no longer a valuable mole for Gus once Lalo goes back to Mexico. Of course, Mike is the one who presented this damning case against Lalo which required Saul Goodman's legal expertise to begin with. Mike keeps a close eye on the world and is seemingly always there with a rifle in hand to help Jimmy survive. Jimmy relies on that and appreciates it. However, Mike is still essentially a stranger who doesn't view the world the same way as Jimmy. That has long been a fascinating dichotomy explored throughout this show even though the two characters rarely spend any significant time together. Their lives intersect in some complex but rewarding ways. They inform what is possible within this world for each other. They survive in order to continue benefitting one another. It's a solid dynamic and partnership. But Jimmy is defeated upon realizing that Mike is the only one he can talk to about what happened in the deserted. He is dealing with a significant psychological trauma. It's something that is seriously impacting his work. He knows that this amount of money will direct more attention to Lalo and his case. He can overcome that. However, he can't even provide the basic services for his every day clients who see him as the best lawyer they could possibly get. He has built that reputation in this town. He worked hard to achieve it. Work could help distract him from the chaos and trauma he has just endured. He has Kim who is supportive no matter what. But that support may be completely one-sided. She gives so much to him. She has asked for more this season. And yet, Jimmy is incapable of giving that to her without mentioning what she needs to do to maintain his own sanity. It makes this a psychologically tortured relationship. One where Kim has the sensible reaction of worrying about Jimmy's safety. She wants him to go to the hospital. She wants him to take time off from his work. He can't stop for a single second though. She feared that he was killed in the desert. She knows that he is lying about what actually happened out there. She doesn't need the full truth right now either. She'll stand by him knowing that it will take time for him to open up. Her total honesty policy could have done significant damage to this relationship. It would make any single lie have more power because it could be used as ammunition against their future. In this moment, Kim understands Jimmy's impulse to lie. But she is also confused about what is truly at stake with him being a friend of the cartel. Kim saw Lalo in prison. She has become a part of this world too. For her, a change in her path in life is as simple as walking into Rich's office and quitting the firm. Her career has absolutely been important to her and the identity she presents towards the world. However, she is so much more than that too. It has been clear for a long time that she cares more about the pro bono cases than Mesa Verde. She can leave now with that clarity. Jimmy's brush with death allows her to focus on what's important. Jimmy only cares about the reckless nature he perceives her action to be. He doesn't understand. He thinks she isn't acting rationally. She absolutely is. She doesn't deserve this attack from him. And yet, she is the one who defends him with such vigor once Lalo shows up at the apartment demanding the story of what happened in the desert. The evidence doesn't track with what Jimmy has been saying. It doesn't matter how many times he says it. Lalo just doesn't believe it. Kim makes him though. She at least makes him doubt the sincerity of his suspicions and the strength of his own organization. Tension radiates through this scene because Mike is once again present with a gun to save Jimmy in his time of need. Kim is the hero of the moment though. She is the one who can ease the tension without it having to turn deadly. It still might. Lalo is taking Nacho to Mexico with him. That is a change of plans. One that could inspire a significant turn in the finale. But this hour once again suggests that Jimmy's descent into the amoral Saul Goodman of Breaking Bad was always inevitable. That wasn't the case the earlier seasons presented. Jimmy wanted to avoid returning to his con man persona. Mike suggests that is simply who Jimmy is though. Because of all of this, Jimmy may come around to that way of thinking. It may not be right or healthy. His mind will have to reckon with everything that has happened. Who he relies upon for that support will dictate what direction he turns to afterwards. Kim and Mike protect him over and over again. However, they have varied reactions on what to do next that could pull Jimmy apart if he doesn't find clarity soon.