Monday, April 18, 2022

REVIEW: 'Better Call Saul' - Kim's Threats and Jimmy's Bribery Work Together as They Advance Their Scheme in 'Carrot and Stick'

AMC's Better Call Saul - Episode 6.02 "Carrot and Stick"

Harsh realities dawn on Nacho. Gus investigates his suspicions.

"Carrot and Stick" was written by Thomas Schnauz & Ariel Levine and directed by Vince Gilligan

Jimmy and Kim need a case enviable enough for a name partner like Clifford Main interested in taking a meeting but not viable enough for any sensible lawyer to pursue it. Enter the Kettlemans. Craig spent several months in prison after stealing millions of dollars from the city. That was an incredible deal. It wasn't good enough for his wife, Betsy. He has been released and they've started a new business. It doesn't provide the lifestyle they once had. Betsy is desperate to experience that reality once more. They deserve it. As such, it's righteous for them to steal in order to acquire it. It's what life is suppose to be for them. And yet, they got as good a deal as they were going to get. They are guilty of everything that has ever been accused of them. It doesn't matter that Craig has a dim-witted smile and a willingness to go along with so much. He would be made an example if he should be the target of yet another financial crimes investigation. That's the threat Jimmy and Kim can hold over their heads. They need these two to further create suspicions in Cliff's head about Howard's potential drug use. It's not real. Jimmy and Kim can create a fanciful story. One meant to achieve their grand ambitions. They are completely focused on this task. Of course, the narrative wants the audience to know they can't be singularly focused on it. They are being watched as they embark on this. They can never feel safe. They survived their own encounter with Lalo that easily could have turned deadly. They lied to the cartel in order to maintain Jimmy's contacts within Gus' organization. He knows Mike is a good and honorable man who wants to protect him. Life is still chaotic. That is only going to continue. But Jimmy and Kim have the freedom to pursue their own interests. They can take as many liabilities as they want. They break it down into using the carrot or the stick. Jimmy wants to buy the Kettlemans' silence. He believes that has always been the most important thing to them. As such, money should keep them from exposing the plan against Howard. That's not good enough. They are skeptical of everything that comes out of Jimmy's mouth. They know he is a liar and a conman. They listen to his legal advice even though they refuse to have him as their lawyer again. Jimmy plays into these basic instincts. Kim still needs to come in to close the deal. She is aware of that. She knows Jimmy's limitations. She is capable of pushing the boundaries even further. Not only can she ensure the Kettlemans' silence, she can also shut down their business with the intention of them returning the money to those they've scammed. She has those skills and connections. She is the one leading this project. She is all in even though Jimmy still has his doubts. That remains an important dichotomy that may create more friction as time goes on.

Jimmy and Kim build this suspicion. They are laying the pieces to ensure the thought is present. They aren't the only ones resorting to deceit to achieve their ultimate goals. Everyone tells Gus that Lalo is dead. He was killed in the raid. Every mercenary was also killed. And so, Gus has his doubts. He doesn't know if he was victorious. It's only in reaching out to Hector that he infers the truth. It's completely nonsensical for Hector to appreciate Gus' condolences. They are half-hearted at best. It's all about Gus maintaining the illusion that they all peacefully coexist within this organization. Those two know better. Even though Hector is unable to speak, Gus hears so much from his adversary. He has no proof to back up the claims whatsoever. However, he's willing to kill Mike the moment he pushes back on an order. Mike has gone along with everything. He was overruled when it came to protecting Nacho. Instead, he was led to a safe house where he would be left to die. In that instance, Gus had people watching over to ensure the outcome was what he wanted. He didn't achieve that goal with the raid on Lalo. This is him being more careful. However, people want Nacho alive. Mike believes his friend deserves that fate. Meanwhile, Lalo understands Nacho is the only person who can speak to the truth of what happened in Mexico. The cousins find Nacho at the hotel. They followed the evidence left behind by Mike. Nacho was suppose to die in that confrontation. He doesn't. It's not because of some quick thinking or willingness to run over the cousins. That outcome happens much later in the timeline. Instead, Nacho is free to roam because of the conflicting interests. He can't rely on anyone. Mike presents as a friend in his time of need. He can reach out with the awareness of what needs to be done. He still may not keep Nacho alive. It doesn't serve Gus' interests to do so. He is simply responding to each development as it happens. Mike and his team can pay off the women staying in Nacho's house. They can swap out the safe and plant evidence. They can set the narrative to a certain extent. They can't control everything. Mike knows that the responses coming can't be known. He represents that uncertain nature. Gus can't be volatile now. It wouldn't be smart to kill off this resource. He still must flex that possibility. It's Gus being desperate to a certain extent. He never lets people see him sweat. However, he picks up the broken glass on his floor with such precision because that task seems just as crucial as the other messes created in this world. He can overcome so much. That fate is known to a certain extent. The consequences are still going to be far-reaching especially once all the main characters are pulled into the fray.