The fourth episode of the new season of Better Call Saul, “Talk”, has everyone hitting a crossroad of sorts. Kim is trying to find something she has lost, Jimmy is still wrestling with life on either side of the line and Mike is, well… Mike is Mike.
After an engrossing opening three episodes it feels almost like “Talk”, the fourth entry in the new season of Better Call Saul, is a pause for breath. That’s not to say that this isn’t an entirely engrossing and entertaining hour of television – because it is. But “Talk” is the characters being given room to breathe, and I suspect that this breathing space will be what hammers home the tragedies – come on, you surely don’t expect a happy ending? – of the season finale in a few weeks time.
It was always hard to imagine about how what is effectively an origin story for Saul Goodman could pad out an entire season, let alone a series. The latest episode of Better Call Saul effortlessly shows just how this can be done. We don’t actually get to spend a lot of time with Jimmy in “Talk”, but from the time we do spend wit,h him it’s clear that he’s torn between a normal life and a life of criminality. I think that Bob Odenkirk does a great job of showing the palpable internal conflict in Jimmy. This week he attempts to “endure” a normal life away from working for the law – or against it – as he finally takes a sales job. It does seem like he won’t be away from the criminal fraternity though when the money from the Bavarian Boy finally comes in. No matter what Jimmy tries to do, bending the law is always more rewarding, alluring and exciting.
The fact that this series can go beyond Jimmy and his inevitable transformation is the cast of supporting characters. This week Kim appears to be having a similar crisis of conscience to Jimmy – after her accident, she seems to be unfulfilled with her life as the Mesa Verde legal council. She’s spending her time hanging around the courthouse trying to find something to reignite her love of the law.
The struggle for power between Gus and the Salamancas continues to escalate, with Nacho well and truly stuck in the middle of everything. This week we get to see first hand, or at least hear, just how devastatingly violent the Salamanca brothers can be. The two of them manage to decimate a rival gang with very little in the way of effort. It’s a fantastic “action” scene but we barely see a single shot fired. The tension is really in what we don’t see rather than what do, but it worked really well for me.
I think the outstanding character of the series to date for me is Mike. It didn’t really seem like I needed to know anymore about him after Breaking Bad but Better Call Saul is really changing my view on that. He might sound like Eeyore when he talks, but he’s a really interesting character underneath it all and one that I think I could watch over and over again.
“Talk” is a good episode as it allows the characters time to grow and relax. It’s these seemingly quiet episodes that are most likely to really setup the inevitable tragedy.