Monday, April 20, 2020

REVIEW: 'Better Call Saul' - Jimmy, Kim and Nacho Plot for a Future That Has to Be Better Than the Past in 'Something Unforgivable'

AMC's Better Call Saul - Episode 5.10 "Something Unforgivable"

Jimmy and Kim make a sideways move that takes a serious turn. Nacho gets closer to the cartel than he'd like.

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 season finale of AMC's Better Call Saul.

"Something Unforgivable" was written by Peter Gould & Ariel Levine and directed by Peter Gould

The audience has long feared Kim's ultimate fate because she is so crucial to Jimmy's story but was never seen in Breaking Bad. That set up the expectation of tragedy because of Jimmy's evolution to Saul Goodman. However, that narrative would be robbing her of personal agency along the way. She is an active participant in the story. She has desires that are just as valid. She makes mistakes just like the rest of the ensemble. Her ultimate fate will be shaped by the decisions she makes. It won't come because of what others think she can handle or what she should do. No one immediately understands why she quit Schweikart & Cokely and dropped Mesa Verde as her client. Jimmy didn't when he heard the news. They quickly got distracted by Lalo's visit. However, Howard proves himself to be just as despicable in his behavior towards her. He believes he has to tell her all the ways in which Jimmy is awful and disruptive. She interprets it all as a belittling action. One where Howard doesn't respect Kim enough to believe that she is operating with full awareness of what her personal relationship is like. The only two people who can understand the inner workings of a relationship are the people within it. Even then, the two sides have drastic opinions where they are still taken back by what the other is capable of doing. Kim is positioned as the woman who tries to reign in Jimmy's worst impulses. She wants to do good in the world. She has proven herself to be a legal eagle when helping banks become even more profitable. But she has also felt the need to help people who get into trouble and need competent legal representation in their time of need. She can provide that for them. It is fulfilling to her. She doesn't want the wealthy and well-connected to rule the world and deprive people of a lower socioeconomic class of the opportunities to improve their lives. That is her dream. She will compromise her values in the hopes of achieving that grand ambition too. People try to rob her of her personal agency. And yet, she is the reason why Jimmy survives the encounter with Lalo. When the cartel leader invaded their personal space demanding answers, Kim was the one who commanded the situation and ensured that he left without harming either of them. Jimmy is the one who wants to disappear out of fear of further retaliation. He may be smart and tactical that way. Kim views herself as safe because she works out of the courthouse where she is surrounded by guards. The couple is safe because Lalo has traveled to Mexico and has much bigger problems to deal with. Mike providing Jimmy with that clarity is what allows Jimmy and Kim to reconnect as a couple. They are seeing new sides to each other. Jimmy wants to assume what Kim is comfortable with. He knows the power of the deal they struck before getting married. He doesn't want to disappoint her. But she is also amused by what he did to Howard and engages in coming up with new tactics to ruin his reputation. She views that as what Howard deserves because he is still a pompous narcissist. Jimmy sees the potential damage that can be done. An entire life could be damaged. Kim sees the potential for good because of the Sandpiper money that could be coming their way if this plan succeeds. It's a morally complex argument. One where Jimmy believes he knows how Kim will respond. However, she is the one driving this idea forward. She won't change her mind later on. This plan can allow the two of them to be truly happy while feeling satisfied with the choices they made along the way. They can take pride in knowing they did this for themselves and their ambitions. No one else can stand in their way. They trust each other. That is strong and apparent. But again, it only further enriches the sense of tragedy because of what the audience knows becomes of Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad and the Cinnabon Gene stories that start each season of this show.

Plus, the threat from Lalo isn't eliminated. Gus and Mike operate with that certainty. They believe he will be dead soon. They have sent a team in to kill him. Nacho is required to open the back door in the middle of the night. It's such a tense sequence as well. Nacho continues to rise within the cartel. People instinctively trust him. When Don Eladio sits down with him, Nacho has to be very careful with his answers. He wants to escape this life. Mike continues to advocate for that option. And yet, Nacho is only pulled in further. He is honest in saying he doesn't want to live life always looking over his shoulder. Don Eladio has a good laugh at that line. He sees it as a solid joke at the end of a solid strategy for how this business can continue to succeed. Nacho secures that. He is mostly going through the motions in order to survive this whole ordeal. He wasn't planning on traveling to Mexico with Lalo. Instead, he was forced onto this journey. It's one that Gus takes full advantage of. He has a man on the inside who can create this opening to take out his greatest competitor. Gus won't stop until every Salamanca is dead. They are the greatest rivals standing in his way. That is a legacy that will last for years. It will be Gus' undoing no matter what. He doesn't think clearly when it comes to this feud. Mike has the rational approach. He is the one who has to keep everyone calm. He can only do that for Jimmy at the moment though. With Nacho, he is left on his own. He has to make these decisions. He may not believe he has much of a choice. If he fails to open the door, then he will likely be killed with everyone else in the compound. Gus' hired assassins will more than likely find a way in on their own. Gus builds them up as the best in the business. That makes it seem like a certainty that all of this will play out exactly as he has planned. And yet, those expectations are upended. Nacho has to think quick on his feet because of the numerous obstacles standing in his way. Lalo is actually an insomniac. He only sleeps a couple hours each night. Nacho needs that rest but isn't allowed to get it because of his ongoing stress and worries. He has to act in the middle of the night. He can potentially escape to something better. This is his opportunity to get away from this world for good. And yet, that ambiguity of what the future holds may only grow more dire for him after Lalo survives this ordeal. It's a point of pride for Lalo to lure the assassins into a trap and kill them all. It's not good enough simply to survive. He has to exact his revenge and exert his dominance over the situation. He knows exactly who put out this hit on his life. He knows that he has to be strategic in his next move. However, he is still alive and continues to prove his strength and resilience. His operation is a mess just like Kim said it was. Nacho deceived him. Everyone was fooled by Nacho even though he didn't put much effort into this cover story. He desperately wanted out but was prevented from doing so. Lalo's home is destroyed. That will make his quest for personal vengeance even more potent. Like Kim though, it's a feud that may be destined to end one way because Lalo never appeared on Breaking Bad. That will bring some finality to this conflict in the final season. But it's also going to be insanely unpredictable. These characters have agency all on their own. Their actions aren't beholden to a certain fixed outcome. It's simply about the moment and doing what it takes to mount something better for the future. That is just destined to end tragically for all of them even though the audience knows some will survive what is coming next. Things never play out how one thinks they will.