Better Call Saul has more or less split its two leads up in season two and set them on their own courses of action. We’ve discussed this: Jimmy is off starting his own law practice and creeping toward becoming the Saul Goodman we met in Breaking Bad. Mike is running around New Mexico doing Mike things, kind of like a one-man A-Team that operates in a gray-ish — dark gray, really — area between right and wrong. But just because their paths aren’t crossing physically right now doesn’t mean they aren’t crossing in other ways. For example, in last night’s episode, both of them ended up getting someone hurt as a result of a bad thing they thought they were doing for a good reason. And both of them appear pretty torn up about it now, for good, basically opposite reasons.
Let’s start with Jimmy, because his is more personal and his name is (kind of) in the title. The plan he set in motion in last week’s episode worked. By flipping the numbers of the address in Chuck’s files, and causing HHM to make a very embarrassing and costly mistake in their filing, he was able to get Mesa Verde back for Kim. And he was also able to make Kim very happy, temporarily.
What he didn’t see coming, even though he probably should have, was that Chuck would put the ruse together and be furious about it. And let’s be clear here: Chuck has every right to be furious, because what Jimmy did was despicable. Chuck is no angel in this situation (based on actions both recent and ongoing, the latter of which Kim very accurately diagnosed while cutting him down), but Jimmy took advantage of his own brother in a moment of physical/psychological distress so he could commit a fraud that would make said brother — whose psychological issues are well known in the New Mexico legal community — look incompetent. He usually dances a samba on the line between shenanigans and outright wrong, but this one careened over into the bad zone, and now both Chuck and Kim know he did it.
The result of this was twofold: First, Jimmy appeared to piss Kim off quite a bit (see, punching), because he violated her strict rule about his moral flexibility not leaking over into her practice. The fact that he ended up violating it is no surprise, nor is the fact that he did so before they even got the dentist’s chairs out of their new office, because Jimmy is a junkie for this stuff and he can’t help himself. The surprising thing is that even through her rage, once she realized Jimmy did exactly what Chuck accused him of, Kim’s response — in a somewhat roundabout way — was to tell him to cover his tracks. Gisele St. Clair lives.
The bigger and more heartbreaking consequence, however, was what happened to Chuck in the copy shop. The mental issues he was having in there were kicked off by Jimmy’s actions in making him look incompetent, and were exacerbated by Jimmy paying off the clerk to deny him the truth he knew was out there. So when he fainted and hit his head on the counter, resulting in a severe concussion at best and death at worst, that’s basically on Jimmy, give or take a little complicated sibling history. And Jimmy watching the whole thing go down made it hurt worse. We’re going to learn a lot about Jimmy in the opening moments of next week’s season finale, because — barring a third out somewhere in the process — he’s either going to be the kind of guy who ignores potentially adverse consequences to rush to his ailing brother’s aid, or he’s going to be the kind of guy who allows his brother to lie injured on the floor of a shady 24-hour copy shop, in the care of an overwhelmed young legal assistant and an easily bribed zombie shift employee, in an attempt to cover his own ass.
A big part of me is scared of that answer.
Elsewhere, Mike’s multi-episode plan also worked out as he intended, also temporarily. The nail hose — NAIL HOSE! — he made last week disabled the truck, which allowed him to make off with the $250k, which allowed him to do fun things like buy a round of drinks for an entire crowded bar, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. His reaction was perfect. Mike had a moment.
Unfortunately, Mike’s moment was short-lived, because Nacho promptly informed him that the plan had been a failure. Rather than the robbery making the newspaper and getting Hector in trouble with the cops, it all got cleaned up thanks to a Good Samaritan who freed the driver and got his face blown off as a thank you. For Mike, who to this point has gone to great lengths to not even harm the bad guys (even if it means shifting to a plan that involves a sociopath bashing him about the face outside a tacqueria), knowing his actions got an innocent civilian killed… that’s a soul crusher.
All of which brings me back to the thing I said earlier about Jimmy and Mike’s stories this week being similar on their face, but also completely opposite. Yes, they both got people hurt through unintended consequences of their shady actions. But Jimmy got a loved one hurt because he has no personal moral code, and Mike got a stranger hurt because he does. The lesson here is that, when you start doing these types of things, no matter how careful you are, there will always be consequences.
– “But wait,” you say. “Why didn’t Jimmy just show up on a weekend to film his commercial, when the school would be empty?” Well, (a) because having him spin a lie about a supervisor named Annette and sing the chorus of “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” is much better television, and b) quiet, you. UPDATE: I have been informed by multiple people that flags don’t fly on weekends. So there’s that explanation.
– This next commercial will run during the 11 a.m. Diagnosis Murder. Jimmy is making his way through the Hallmark Channel daytime lineup. Next up: Columbo.
– Everything about Mike at the diner fascinated me, from him having a “usual” order that he doesn’t even have to verbalize, to the brassy waitress apparently turning snow removal into sexual innuendo. (“You can shovel my drive.”) This is a good diner. I would like to review it on Yelp.
– Nice little touch: Even Jimmy’s toothbrush is fancier and more colorful than Kim’s.
– A few weeks back, I compared Chuck to a supervillain for the way he was huddled under his space blanket and the menacing way he played the piano in his darkened house, and now we can add to those traits a borderline superhuman ability to deduce the exact steps in a fraudulent plot, provided said fraudulent plot was carried out by his brother. A somewhat narrow superpower, sure, but he did nail every single thing. We don’t get to choose our gifts.
– Of course Jimmy made fake IDs in high school.
Season finale next week. Take us home, Rupert.