Better Call Saul delivers again in episode 8 “Coushatta” with a further opening into the Breaking Bad universe and a sublime character twist.
Better Call Saul surprises me every single week. The prequel series shouldn’t shock, or build tension to known events, yet every week the patient writing shines through, giving us another whirlwind of information that we didn’t even realise we wanted to know. Episode 8, “Coushatta”, was nowhere near the most important episode so far, but it delivered magnificently.
Following on from the events of last week, Kim (Rhea Seehorn) has an elaborate idea to get Jimmy’s (Bob Odenkirk) friend Huell out of jail. The plan was a joy to watch; Jimmy forged hundreds of letters from a self-created congregation from a fake church, whilst Kim used the law firm she works at to put together a legal team, putting pressure on the public lawyer, who deals with pro-bono cases on a daily basis. The letters defend Huell to an insane level, giving the judge a reason to force the two lawyers to come to an agreement. “Coushatta” puts the opposing couple together in a risky scheme designed to force the prosecutor to buckle under immense pressure.
Once again, whilst the praise is lavished on Bob Odenkirk, more must be aimed at Rhea Seehorn, who lays down a performance each episode that is worthy of accolades. She tactically uses the space between herself and another character to deliver the tone of the conversation. Her calculated approach whilst she engages with the opposition is to be admired. It’s difficult to nail down her character – has she always been this manipulative or is this the result of Jimmy’s slow transformation to Saul? She barely allows a slither of truth known to the audience.
Or maybe I was wrong about Kim; last week I suggested that the character will soon be conflicted by her principles which will split her and Jimmy apart – but the thrill of the case to keep Huell out of prison led her to haul Jimmy into the wall in a moment of passion. It brought her alive, allowing the couple to relax. Breaking Bad presented Skylar as wholly principled apart from a brief slip, yet Better Call Saul serves the ultimate character twist; maybe Kim likes the thrill of skirting around the edges of law? Then again, what would her ultimate downfall be? I sense that something tragic is afoot.
As for Jimmy, “Coushatta” does little to further the character. In fact, he seems to have lulled into a routine where he faces a dilemma about what he wants in life. It is clear that he loves Kim but the question remains – does he love the idea of a different future more? Better Call Saul episode 8 sees Jimmy scoping out new smaller offices, suggesting he has consoled himself to a separate individual career, rather than teaming up with Kim, who has all the backing from her own law firm. I was utterly gobsmacked when she asked Jimmy cooly, with a cigarette perched on her lips, if they could do something law-breaking again.
In the dark underground of Better Call Saul, easter eggs emerge, as a slight reference from Breaking Bad makes an appearance to make us appreciate the show’s persistence in making this an entirely linked universe. Remember in Breaking Bad when Saul was abducted by Jesse and Walter, and he was relieved to hear that he was not kidnapped by Lalo Salamanca? He turns up in the actual flesh for the first time in the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul universe. Judging by his approach when surprising Nacho in the restaurant kitchen, cooking a Salamanca family favourite, he will not be phased by Nacho’s attempt to run the operations – in fact, it is likely Nacho will be displeased at his ranking been lowered. Could Nacho be the possible conduit between Lalo and Saul Goodman?
As for Mike, he spends most of episode 8 trying to entertain the German workers as they continue building the very delayed laboratory. Mike looks on edge for once, ensuring that the workers are stimulated by strippers but at the same time, making sure they keep themselves secretive, and out of Gus’s hair. For the first time, Mike suggests the fear instilled by Gus as he warns the leader of the German group that he needs to think about the possible ramifications if he does not keep his mouth shut.
Better Call Saul continues to journey through an almost flawless season. “Coushatta” was a small teaser – next up is the preliminary to the finale. God help us.