Episode eight of Better Call Saul, “Fifi” was in my opinion, the best episode of the entire series. The second season has shown the story really hit its stride; it’s confident, it’s witty, and it’s full of emotional impact and impending doom. It’s every bit as good as it’s predecessor, Breaking Bad, and in some cases, I might even say… Better. The writers keep you on your toes, never let you feel confident on who to root for and never let you get comfortable. Better Call Saul is a true character piece in a field of fast-paced action dramas and I couldn’t be happier for the reprieve.
Hit the jump for your recap.
Brace yourselves, because you’re in for a wild (by Better Call Saul standards) ride. The opening sequence is one long continuous shot, reminiscent of Touch of Evil. I cannot put into words why I loved it so much. To say it’s long would be an understatement, and yet, when it was over I was left hoping for more of this stylish and beautifully shot set-up by director Larysa Kondracki. She needs to win all the awards.
No, really, six full minutes long, and I wanted more.
So, what did we learn? This ice-cream truck driver really knows how to hide his illicit substances from the border patrol, and he comes through often, judging by the pile of popsicle sticks in the soil near his stashed-under-a-rock gun.
Cut to credits.
We catch up with Jimmy and Kim as they enjoy some fine dining and chat: Hot dogs and shop talk about their new business venture and Kim’s resignation from HHM. Jimmy advises she deliver her resignation letter right then and there before Howard can steal Mesa Verde out from under her nose. They won’t play fair, he warns. But Kim is having nothing to do with it. She’s gonna play by her rules, ethically and with her head held high.
The next morning she meets with Howard and tentatively breaks the news to him that she’s resigning. He seems genuinely surprised and a little jealous that she’s going out alone and not teaming up with Schweikart and Cokely like he had heard through the grapevine. But he’s also a little suspicious. He smells Jimmy and he’s not wrong. He offers her all the luck in the world and for HHM to pay off her loans as “our gift to you.” He claims he too wanted to go out on his own but that his father convinced him to stay with the company. It’s all much too easy and congenial and we’re left waiting for the other shoe to drop.
We don’t have to wait long. Before Kim is even out of the office, Howard pages his assistant to cancel all of his meetings and to call Mesa Verde for him. That low down dirty rat. Panicked, Kim sprints back to her office and calls her contact at Mesa Verde to set up a meet with them ASAP so she can inform them of her move into private practice.
Meanwhile, Mike watches. Across the street from the ice cream parlor he waits for... what? What is Mike’s plan? We’re not privy to that information but I can imagine Hector’s threats to Kaylee have him looking for revenge, and if he happens to make a little extra cash in the process, I’m sure he wouldn’t be unhappy. Hector arrives and Mike is intrigued, but still, he watches, and he waits.
At her meeting, Kim tries to convince Mesa Verde that she is the right choice. The girl is on point, she’s confident, and she’s poised and she’s all but nailed the client by the end of the lunch.
“If this were beyond my abilities, I wouldn’t be throwing my hat in the ring,” she says. “I would not waste your time or mine.”
Kim meets back up with Jimmy at their new office. She’s seems wound up, and nervous, and I wonder if we’re supposed to think she’s not sure about the meeting. But really, the girl has nothing to worry about and I wonder if this is a glitch in the storytelling/acting. She couldn’t possibly be blind to how well she did.
I should never have batted an eye because this being Better Call Saul, of course, there is a plan.
“Bad lunch, huh?” Jimmy asks. “Mesa Verde said ‘no’?”
Kim breaks out into a brilliant smile and kisses the boy, soundly. She’s so excited, she’s practically shaking as she tells Jimmy all about it. It’s freaking adorable. The girl wasn’t nervous, she’s just over the moon, crazy excited. She got “the double thumbs up”, she exclaims happily.
Jimmy is enamored by her, and so am I. I also kind of want to kiss Rhea Seehorn on the mouth. She plays this character perfectly, nailing every emotion the writers give her.
That being said, I’m worried for her. Happy endings aren’t in the cards for anybody on this show, and I’ve been well-trained to be suspicious of any good fortune bestowed upon my favorite characters. Vince Gilligan and his evil band of brothers and sisters are mean like that. I want to smack them. I want to hug them. I love this show.
At Chuck's, Howard pays a visit to tell him the news of Kim’s resignation and to ask for advice on how to keep the Mesa Verde account. Chuck is in disbelief that she’s going out on her own, and that’s when Howard drops the bomb that she’s pooling resources with Jimmy. There’s no way that wasn’t intentional. Howard smirks and Chuck is now sufficiently riled up. Chuck then surprises Howard when he wanders off to his closet to peruse his suits.
“I’m going to that meeting, “ Chuck says when he learns it’s their one shot at keeping Mesa Verde and also a chance to stick it to his baby brother.
And he’s going to be “normal.” Everybody gets to keep their cell phones and the lights get to stay on. Howard is skeptical, but Chuck is forceful. Yikes. Not gonna end well.
Before the meeting at HHM, Chuck seems nervous. He paces his office wrapped in a space blanket. Yikes. But when they arrive, Howard calls him in and he’s a new man. Chuck is smart and confident and brilliantly smarmy. Taking killing them with kindness to a whole new level, Chuck underhandedly steals the account away from Kim with nothing but praise.
“She’s the future, and we’re the past,” he says with a smile, all the while implying that Kim is inexperienced.
Howard catches on fast and the two of them play the client like a fiddle. Chuck might act high and mighty but this play was every bit as underhanded and tricky as any of Slippin’ Jimmy’s antics. It was brilliant. It was also a kick to the gut. HHM doesn’t need Mesa Verde, but Kim does, and she was the one who brought them to the firm just a couple weeks ago. This is purely a power play.
But all that effort takes it toll and by the end of the meeting, as the client departs, Chuck collapses into a heap, overwhelmed by this jaunt into the world of technology electronics. I don’t know what it says about me that I’m thoroughly pleased by this turn of events. I hope it hurts, Chuck.
We catch up with Jimmy at an airfield. He wheels in a ‘vet’ named ‘Fudge’ who wants to meet the episodes namesake, “Fifi.” Fifi is a WWII era B29 super fortress airplane. Along for the ride are Jimmy’s filmmaking stoners. With their guide dispatched to find the old man some water, the team springs into action to film a new commercial for Jimmy. The vet is actually an old client of Jimmy’s who had been tried for public masturbation. Lovely. In true Saul style, this is all a con in an effort to get a great shot of the airplane. It’s beautiful.
The phone rings and it’s Ernie calling to inform Jimmy of Chuck’s collapse. As he’s giving Ernie directions on how to take care of him, a whole team of Air Force officers arrives on the scene and Jimmy scrambles to get the not-at-all paralyzed Fudge back into his chair. Jimmy is panicked but all they want is a photo with the ‘war hero.’ Phew! Another Bullet dodged for Jimmy. But how many more can he miss?
Jimmy arrives back at him and Kim’s new office where she is waiting on the curb, devastated to have learned Chuck and Howard have stolen the Mesa Verde account out from underneath her. When Jimmy learns Chuck changed their minds, his sigh of resignation feels like a moment of no turning back. We don’t even see his face, just some nervous twitching of his fingers framed by Kim’s broken visage. But the timing in this show, as I’ve said before, is impeccable and with actions, words, and by painting the picture in gorgeous shots, this show cuts deep, on many levels.
Kim doesn’t know if she can still do this, go out on her own without Mesa Verde, her confidence is shattered, but Jimmy is adamant.
“That’s why we’re a team,” he says. “Something like this happens? You’re there to help me, I’m there to help you.”
And so it’s settled, they are going ahead. Adorable little nuggets. I hate that I’m so invested in this ‘ship. It can only end in pain and heartbreak.
Back to Mike who is still stalking Hector and his crew. He tracks them down to a warehouse and the brilliant opening sequence finally pays off as we watch the ice-cream truck deliver its cargo. Being the slow-burning type of show that Better Call Saul is, we don’t actually get to see what kind of cargo he’s carrying but I’m pretty sure it isn’t Drumsticks and Orange Dreamsicles. Still, Mike watches and waits.
Jimmy arrives at Chuck’s to find him passed out on the couch. He sends Ernie home and offers to take over. I’m thinking Jimmy is way too calm and cool after what Chuck did to Kim despite his brother’s ill health. But Jimmy soon spies a banker’s box of Mesa Verde files and his guilty little grin suggests if he didn’t come in with a plan, he sure as hell has one now.
Cut to yet another montage made of win!
It’s arts and crafts time for Jimmy as he ventures to an all-night copy shop with a stack of the Mesa Verde files.
“I need an X-ACTO knife, a ruler... wood, please... Hammermill Premium paper... 20 pound, one ream... and a glue stick. And point me to your best copier.”
Cut to the tune of “Why Don’t you Do It” by Little Barrie, Jimmy gets to work doctoring up the files so that the address of the new Mesa Verde bank is transposed which at best is gonna cause HHM embarrassment and at worst, cost them the account and send the client running to Kim.
Aww, Jimmy. It’s the sweetest, most loving, most adorable thing… It’s also the shadiest, most ethically wrong and low down thing he’s ever done. There’s not gonna be any going back for the brothers if Chuck ever finds out.
Satisfied by his night’s work, Jimmy returns to Chuck’s to watch over his brother’s sleep. With a grin, Jimmy falls asleep.
The next morning Jimmy seems concerned about Chuck’s health but he also takes the moment to give him a serve over he and Howard taking Mesa Verde from Kim who “gave it to you on a red velvet pillow.”
Chuck thanks Jimmy for taking care of him and a wave of guilt seems to overcome Jimmy as the camera pans out.
Finally, we catch up with Mike who is doing some arts and crafts of his own with Kaylee. They are adorable. In the kitchen, they drill holes into a garden hose. He claims he’s making a soaker for his rhododendrons.
Later that night, we find out what he was really making as he watches television and insert nails into the freshly drilled holes in the hose. Either Mike is planning on stopping a car… or an ice-cream truck… or he’s gonna get real ugly with a self-styled mace. My money is on the ice-cream truck.
The episode fades to black.
There are only two episodes left and everybody’s future is uncertain at this point. The slow burn has been building and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for us next week. Will Kim learn what Jimmy did for her? I can’t imagine she will be happy. And what about Chuck and Howard? How will the cards fall for HHM? I have so many questions!
Better Call Saul airs at 10 p.m. EST on AMC.