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Ah, the things we do for love. Again, my final reaction to "Bingo" is what it has been to all of the episodes barring last week's Mike-centric piece. Poor poor Jimmy. There was so very much right with Monday's episodes of Better Call Saul, but one thing a little wrong, which somewhat soured my reception of yet another excellent episode of my new favorite series. Thematically the show hit all the right notes. Visually, it outdid itself. Continuity-wise, there has been a hint and a nudge but perhaps a scene hit the cutting room floor, and I would have liked a little more clarification.

Hit the jump for the full recap and review.

 

We open on Jimmy and Mike at the courthouse, seated below a bank of mug shots that either of them could easily be a part of. This episode is chock full of geometrically stylized shots, emphasizing how trapped all these characters are and this is only the first. I cannot say enough how beautifully this show is shot. I’m pretty sure I could watch it with the sound muted and still end up satisfied.

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“I do all the talking. That’s how this works,” Jimmy says before returning the notebook Mike had grabbed last week after their interrogation room con job. Detective Abbasi (Omid Abtahi), the young detective, is pissed, not buying Jimmy’s story of finding the book in the parking lot, and the old detective looks like he knows exactly what is up and doesn’t really care, perhaps even condoning what he thinks Mike has done.

After some back and forth, Detective Abbasi is soon dispatched. Mike thanks Jimmy, and by “thanks” I mean dismisses, so he can talk privately with the old cop. We learn that Detective Sanders (Barry Shabaka Henley) knows what’s up, that Mike likes the young cop (probably because he reminds him of his son), and that Mike’s future depends on what his daughter in law has to say. Mike seems at peace with whatever she decides. And that pretty much wraps up last week’s loose ends and, in my opinion, sets up for some finale drama.

Roll the credits.

Later, Jimmy waits outside to ask Mike what happened. “None of your concern,” says Mike. “I know you’re trying to help me… You’re safe counselor and I no longer require your services.”

Jimmy noting that Mike being a former detective should know the “scams, con jobs and mind games” these detectives play, seems genuinely concerned for Mike’s wellbeing (and his own ass). Mike doesn’t seem at all troubled and dismisses Jimmy, telling him to send him his bill. This is perhaps the only inkling of Jimmy’s knowledge of Mike’s past we get, and with what happens later, it’s my minor gripe with the episode. But I’ll moan about that when I get to it. Moving on.

Next Jimmy visits Chuck (Michael McKean), but where is he? Jimmy eventually finds him… outside! After he painfully counts to 120 and heads back in, Chuck informs Jimmy that he’s been building a tolerance and that he needs to get his life back on track. Always scheming, Jimmy has a plan with Chuck as well. He wheels in a bunch of his case files, claiming he has no room at his office. Watching through the window before he leaves, it’s clear Jimmy has left Chuck with all of his elder law files, knowing that he won’t be able to resist getting to work on them. Saul, is that you?

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Onwards to the new office Jimmy is planning on renting, as he takes Kim for the grand tour. It’s way more than he needs, and Jimmy is practically swooning over Kim in his attempt to impress her as her tells her that elder law is booming. “Gotta look successful to be successful,” he says. He offers to make Kim partner if she leaves HHM, and for a moment she seems to think about it but ultimately declines, breaking Jimmy’s heart in the process.

Back at HHM, Kim is sitting down with the Kettlemans. God, I hate them. She tells them that the outlook is bleak. Mr. Kettleman needs to plead guilty and return the money they stole and in return Craig will get minimal jail time. Mrs. Kettleman is outraged, claiming they are innocent and don’t have the money. She fires Kim and the two storm out. I don’t know who I want to slap more: Mrs. Kettleman for being such an unrelenting bitch, or Mr. Kettleman for being such a pansy.

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Bingo time! Jimmy is the MC at a rousing game of Bingo when the phone rings.  I wonder who it could be… Why, it’s the Kettleman’s, of course. They are in need of Jimmy’s services.

“We want no jail time,” says a delusional Mrs. Kettleman at the diner. Jimmy tries everything to decline representing them but as Mrs. Kettleman so annoyingly points out, “we’ve already paid you a retainer.” Gulp!

 Jimmy hustles off to the bathroom to call Kim and find out what’s going on, and she begs him to get them to return to her counsel. Back at the table, Jimmy tries to convince the Kettlemans to return to HHM, but “we’re all in this together,” says Mrs. Kettleman, reminding Jimmy he’s already taken the $30,000 and he is beholden to them.

At HH&M, Jimmy picks up the Kettleman files and spars with Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian). Howard has relegated Kim to the east wing, or as Jimmy calls it, “the cornfield”. By the delivery, I get the feeling that Jimmy once worked at HHM himself and he too was consigned to the bowels of the office. In a gorgeous noir-like moment, Jimmy and Kim share a cigarette and bond over the schmuckishness of Hamlin and stupidity of the Kettlemans.

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I ‘ship this pairing so hard. Yes, I know I am in for a mountain of heartbreak and regret, and no, I don’t care. ‘Ship it!

At the office, Jimmy pulls out a wad of the Kettleman’s cash and the awesomely cheesy muzak tells me a scheme is afoot! Sure enough, Mike is staking out the Kettleman’s house. He sprays the wad down and places the stack of bills in a remote controlled car, sending it Mr. Kettleman’s way.  Naturally, Craig panics. The lights finally go out and Mike makes his move, breaking in and using a black light to follow the trail of the stashed cash. He finds the load hidden in the bathroom behind a stack of toilet paper. It’s almost as beautiful as Walter White’s proclivity for hiding his stash in with the baby diapers.

Though this scene is gorgeous and the music had me rocking out in a slightly 70s-porn kind of vibe, it was my issue with this episode. Not a deal-breaker, but I feel like it dragged on entirely too long and that we missed a vital scene where either Jimmy and Mike had a chat about Mike’s skills, or Jimmy himself learned a bit more about Mike’s PI work. From Breaking Bad and “5-0” last week, we know Mike is the man and entirely capable of pulling off this kind of a stunt, but I’m not wholeheartedly certain that Jimmy knows this. Coffee cup scam aside, Jimmy only knows Mike as a retired cop and parking attendant.

Moving on though and Mike brings the stash to Jimmy. He does “the right thing” and puts his share of the loot on top of the pile.

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“Am I correct in assuming we’re now square?” asks Mike.

“Square,” Jimmy replies.

For now, I think.

The next morning Jimmy pays the Kettlemans a visit. Jimmy tells them to check out their stash in the bathroom and they freak the hell out. Mrs. Kettleman is obviously a hard sell, but Jimmy has them cornered in every possible way.

“Luckily we have a very talented lawyer who can minimize the damage. You’re gonna take that deal,” Jimmy says, sending them back to Kim.  

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Jimmy’s given back the money, sent the Kettlemans to Kim, and lost everything he’s worked for. This guy simply cannot get a break. No good deeds go unpunished, as the saying goes, and boy, does Jimmy embody that? He can’t afford the new office and pays it a last visit, breaking down and having a well-earned tantrum, kicking the crap out of the door. He sits himself down and has a good cry, and I feel like weeping for him too. It’s no stretch to see how Jimmy turns into Saul. At this point, I’m surprised he even bothers to try and do the right thing.

“Law offices of James M. McGill, how may I direct you call?” he answers in his Mrs. Doubtfire voice when the phone rings.

The man’s got moxie; I’ll give him that.

And so another episode of Better Call Saul comes to a close and Jimmy McGill inches ever closer to becoming Saul Goodman. While this episode didn’t really deliver any new plot threads, it did close out some old ones, hopefully doing away with the Kettlemans for good. I found them a little cartoonish this episode with the focus being so heavily laid upon them, and am quite happy if that will be the last we see of them.

“Bingo” served another purpose as well, and that was to get the show back on track, placing the focus squarely back on Jimmy. While I absolutely loved “5-0”, it harkened perhaps a little too heavily back to the tone of Breaking Bad. I think it would do a disservice to the tone of the show and the character of Jimmy to be so drama-heavy and Mike-centered going forward. Gilligan has built an engaging and captivating new world with Better Call Saul and I have no doubt that the journey of Jimmy becoming Saul will have its own moments of sheer unadulterated pain, probably in the not too distant future.  There are only three episodes left of this season!

Better Call Saul airs at 10pm/9C on AMC

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