Sometimes a show can benefit from backing away from the lead and focusing on its side characters. “Rebecca” did just that, once again twisting our perspectives about characters we thought we had come to understand.
Capped off with a moving montage, this week’s episode of Better Call Saul was mostly about Kim and her efforts to restore her good name at HHM. Combining that with some moving backstory from Chuck and a decision to make for Mike, and we were served up a meaty episode focusing mainly on characters new to the world that is Better Call Saul/Breaking Bad.
Hit the jump for the full recap and review.
We open on Chuck, screwing in a light bulb while some soft jazz plays. Is this the present, or have we stepped forward in time like this show so likes to do in its opening scenes? The mood is warm and inviting and a stark relief to how we usually interact with Chuck.
Turns out, it’s the past we’ve been thrown into as the camera pans to reveal a younger Chuck and his new wife, Rebecca, the episode's namesake. There’s a reveal I didn’t see coming, and it opens up a whole new slew of questions. Where is she now? What happened that she’s no longer in his life? What, if anything, did Jimmy have to do with their marriage's demise?
Somebody’s coming for dinner and Chuck seems none too pleased about it. While his wife cooks a gourmet meal, Chuck prepares her for the worst, going so far as to work out a signal for them to use should they want to cut the evening short and make excuses to have their guest leave. The doorbell rings, their visitor is early, and who should be standing there but Jimmy.
It’s not exactly a surprising dinner guest but the outcome is. After the pleasantries are out of the way and an awkward silence descends on the table, Jimmy breaks the ice by diving into a slew of bad lawyer jokes, one after the other. While Chuck’s reception isn’t at all surprising, he’s over it and making the signal for Rebecca to make excuses and have Jimmy leave, Rebecca on the other hand, is having a blast, cracking up with each successive wisecrack, going so far as telling her own. Chuck is done.
Later, in bed, Chuck tries telling his own lawyer joke to Rebecca. Like the lighting and setting of this bedroom scene, it falls flat. The credits roll. And so once again, this show forces us to question our alliances. Poor Chuck.
When we return, Jimmy is at the office, calling Kim. He thinks he has an idea that will get her out of HHM’s basement. She doesn’t answer. Somebody entering the room, Erin, who is also working late, startles Jimmy. As her opening statement, she gives Jimmy a serve on recycling and office protocol and informs him she needs to go over his notes for the brief they are working on. Though we learn she is less senior than Jimmy, it’s clear she has been sent to babysit him and he is none too happy about the arrangement. Telling her he will meet up with her in a minute to go over the notes, he instead escapes out the back door.
Meanwhile, in the basement, Kim is hard at work in doc review, studiously ignoring Jimmy’s calls. The poor girl looks burnt out and who could blame her?
With Kim still not answering his calls, Jimmy takes matters into his own hands and like last week sneaks into HHM to try and force her hand and get her to talk to him. His “brilliant” plan is for Kim to sue HHM for workplace discrimination. She’s not at all impressed with his idea and instead just wants to take her punishment for listening to Jimmy in the first place. In response, Jimmy offers to quit Davis & Main, like he believes Chuck wants. Kim is even less impressed by that idea, claiming it’s what he wants anyway. She’s not exactly wrong here. She just wants him to do his job.
“You don’t save me. I save me,” she says, in what is ultimately the story of this episode.
At Davis & Main the next morning, Erin is waiting in Jimmy’s office for him when he arrives. She’s not amused by the previous night’s ditch.
At HHM, Kim is working the phones, trying to redeem herself by scoring the firm some new clients, but she strikes out multiple times and heads back to the basement dejected.
Cut to Mike; he’s calling his daughter-in-law. It’s revealed that he has them set up in a nice hotel since we last saw them and his granddaughter is happily frolicking in the pool. She asks him to come visit but he’s still too beat up; he doesn’t want his granddaughter to see him this way. He claims he was in a car accident and doesn’t let on that the current state of his face is because he was making money to support their lifestyle.
Jimmy rolls up to the courthouse and is shocked by Mike’s visage. Mike isn’t letting slip what happened and to the whistle of Rocky Jimmy and Erin approach the courthouse clerk, looking to make an appointment with a judge. Jimmy asks Erin to let him grease the wheels and she agrees. Not getting the date they wanted, Jimmy offers up a beanie baby as a gift/bribe to the clerk. Pleased and charmed by Jimmy, she’s reaching for it when Erin steps in, snatching the teddy bear away before she can receive it. That’s not how they conduct business at Davis & Main. Not amused by this turn of events, the clerk gives them a date a month away.
Jimmy is exasperated and makes his escape to the men’s room. There, he meets up with a fellow attorney, a public defense lawyer who is wildly jealous of Jimmy’s newfound success at Davis & Main. Jimmy seems mildly confused by his exuberance and it’s a great little scene, showcasing the idiom about the grass always being greener on the other side.
Meanwhile, Kim continues fighting the good fight to the tune of a Spanish rendition of “My Way”. I love this version of the song so much I’m going to include it for you. You’re welcome.
Better Call Saul is a master of moving montages and this one is no different. The poor girl doubles her efforts to eek out some new clients for HHM to redeem herself and earn her spot back upstairs. She makes a slew of cold calls and is burning the candle at both ends. Can somebody please give poor Kim a break?
As the montage ends, the phone rings. Burnt out, Kim almost ignores it, but picking up at the last second, she is in luck. A friend named Paige has a client for HHM. In one of the most satisfying moments for me to date, Kim literally jumps for joy, screaming, “Yes!”
Cut to the next morning, and the future is looking bright. The sun is shining, birds are singing, everything is bathed in golden sunlight. I’ve watched enough Better Call Saul now to know that’s probably an ominous sign and so I am cautiously optimistic as we follow Kim and Howard as they meet up with their new client, a CEO of a large bank.
They head off for the meeting, all smiling and happy, and we rejoin them after it has taken place. It seems the meeting has gone well. After the client leaves, Kim starts rattling off a list of what needs to be done for the new case, assuming she has redeemed herself by bringing in a crapload of new cash and prestige for HHM. Howard put the kibosh on that, though, uttering a single coldhearted sentence.
“I’ll put Francis on that; you’ve got enough on your plate in doc review.”
I. AM. CRUSHED.
And so is Kim. I want to hurt Howard. Maybe kill him. Slowly and painfully in his sleep.
At Chuck’s place, Howard pays a visit. He’s there to crow about the new bank case Kim has brought to HHM. Chuck assumes Kim is “out of the dog house” but Howard isn’t willing to let it go yet. Again, I waver on whom I am supposed to trust. Chuck seems genuinely surprised by this turn of events and Howard, who I had warmed up to, is the cold one of the exchange.
Later, Chuck arrives at HHM in the dead of night to take care of some work while the office is still and quiet, lacking much of the electronics that so disturb him. He’s driven himself and looks a little shaky, but he carries his trusty camping light into the building and gets to work. But an office light flicking on soon disturbs him, and who should he bump into but Kim, also burning the midnight oil. He suggests they share a coffee and have a chat. After some awkward small talk and a pained silence, Kim steels herself and asks the big question: Does she have a future at HHM?
Instead of directly answering this, Chuck takes the opportunity to tell her a story. After a quick and expected jab at Jimmy -Chuck tells her they have a lot in common. Jimmy left her holding the bag, and she’s not the first person to go out on a limb for him - he launches into a story about when they were kids, about his father whom he idealized and the family-run corner store.
While away at college, his father ran into some money trouble, eventually having to sell the family business, which confused Chuck as it was a well-loved and much-frequented store for the neighbors. As it turns out, Jimmy has been pilfering cash from the till over the years, nothing big, not too much at a time, but enough to rack up over $14,000 worth. His father wouldn’t hear of it. Not his Jimmy. He would never. Soon after, their father died. According to Chuck, nobody cried harder than Jimmy at the funeral.
“My brother is not a bad person. He has a good heart. But he can’t help himself, and everyone’s left picking up the pieces.”
It’s a cautionary tale, and so, we learn why Chuck holds such a grudge and is so bitter toward his younger brother. Chuck offers to put in a good word to Howard for Kim as he takes his leave.
We cut to Mike at the local diner for the final scene. As Mike eats breakfast, an older gentleman comes in and asks if he can join him. Sitting down before Mike can answer, he orders himself a coffee. It’s then revealed whom we are meeting: Tuco’s uncle, Hector Salamanca. Walking and talking, and nary a bell in sight!
He explains Tuco has always been a hothead and he apologizes on behalf of his family.
“Apology accepted,” Mike says in his most droll voice.
He says Tuco should go to jail for assaulting Mike but not for the eight years he is expecting. Hector wants Mike to say the gun the cops found was his, that they’d go easy on him since he was a former cop. He says he’s looking for the best possible outcome for everyone. For his trouble, Mike will earn a cool $5,000 in cash.
“Think about it,” he says, before walking out of the restaurant.
And Mike appears to be doing just that as the episode fades to black.
“Rebecca” is one of my most favorite episodes to date. There were no scheming or comedic moments from Jimmy; in fact, he was a rather minor player in this week’s episode. This was pure, good storytelling and an exercise in getting to know the less explored characters of the show. I look forward to seeing where Kim’s story goes, if Chuck will step up to the plate for her, and learning what motives Howard has to keep her in the basement. And how will Jimmy fit into her life, if at all, if she does make the move back upstairs? What has Chuck’s story done in regards to her feelings about him?
As for Mike, his dive into the murkier depths of New Mexico seems to have been accelerated and it will be interesting to see who falls first, he or Jimmy. Will they play a part in each other’s fall, or will it be a separate journey for the two of them?
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 10 p.m. EST on AMC.