The loss column is a lot longer.
On to the drug-free part of our story. Jimmy and Kim are so rattled by the visit from Lalo that they check into a swish hotel, a move that Walter and Skyler White will reproduce in Season 5 of “Breaking Bad.” The two spend most of the episode in that hotel room, with the exception of the hours that Kim spends at court. There, she asks for as many felonies and time-intensive cases as comedian Roy Wood Jr. can give her. (OK, it’s a guy from the public defender’s office played by Wood, an inspired piece of casting.) And in a private, impromptu meeting, she learns from Howard that Jimmy has bowling balled his Jaguar and embarrassed him with hookers.
As I’ve said before, this subplot is the oddest, least compelling part of the show, and it appears as though the writers are doubling down on it. After learning about Jimmy’s sophomoric attacks on Howard, Kim suggests new and even more juvenile pranks to Jimmy. Like shaving Howard’s head. Initially, I though Kim was being ironic. Nope. She’s all in, and she actually has an end game in mind. She wants to bait or trick Howard into a misstep public enough and embarrassing enough to force the settlement of the long-running Sandpiper lawsuit.
This will yield a cool $2 million for Jimmy and Kim, which Kim plans to plow into a pro bono clinic, staffed with whiz kids lured from the city’s white-shoe firms. In short, Kim argues that the working life of one preening jerk ought to be sacrificed for the larger good that could be done with the money generated by his downfall.
What’s set up here is a classic “Better Call Saul”/“Breaking Bad” moral conundrum, in which a character justifies an indefensible act by highlighting its upsides. But this conundrum feels different. In part, that’s because Howard has done nothing to earn the enmity of either Jimmy or Kim. In fact, he’s been pretty generous to both of them.
More important, Kim has made a pivot to the dark side that feels wildly improbable. Yes, she has helped with Jimmy’s cons before, and yes, she found them a sexual turn on. But the difference between her previous bad acts and the one she’s urging here seems vast.
As a dastardly schemer, she ends this season a step ahead of Jimmy.
A question: Has any actress in the history of television spent more on-screen time brushing her teeth and flossing than Rhea Seehorn? Seriously. What’s going on, “Better Call Saul” writers? At this point, it’s kind of fetishistic. We get it. The woman has terrific dental hygiene.
Do you think Seehorn gets these scripts and says, “Again with the brushing?”
Another question: Where did Lalo get the money for the Ferrari and the box of cash? Bolsa says his bricks came from his work with Gus Fring, so we’re left to presume that Lalo’s comes from a different source. Yes, the cash counting room operated by the cartel has a lot of bills on hand. Did he just grab a box from there?
The cavils above notwithstanding, this was easily the best season of the show. There were many indelible moments including the opening of Episode 3, which depicts ants swarming a scoop of ice cream dropped on the sidewalk. Next to that, I’d put the explosion of a Los Pollos Hermanos. At times, this show achieves a level of intelligence and polish rarely found beyond cinema at its finest.
At long last, Saul turned up, as did Hank and Gomez. The machinations between Gus and Lalo seemed a bit lopsided, but they are both great characters played by supremely gifted actors.
No curtain call would be complete without a salute to Michael Mando. He plays Nacho, a man who lives an excruciatingly hemmed in life, with impeccable restraint. His torment is all cinched down, everything roiling behind his eyes. He manages to convey Nacho’s heartbreaking predicament without raising his voice, or asking for pity.
If he lives, give that guy a show.
But for now, comment on this one. I’ll see you next time. Until then, I need you to leave. I have family coming over.