“Rebecca” was an important mid-season episode for Better Call Saul. Not only did it finally expand upon Kim’s character in a meaningful way, it also gave us more insight into Chuck and Jimmy’s relationship, as well as punished Mike for taking half-measures during last week’s excellent “Gloves Off.”
Up until now, Kim always felt like a flat foil for Jimmy. She’s law abiding, hard working, and has served thus far as the “goal” for Jimmy. She’s everything he aspires to be, and winning her favor is what keeps him coming back to the straight-and-narrow, even though he keeps straying. “Rebecca” changed all that. She, almost predictably, rejects the flamboyant notion that she should just sue HHM over her punishment. Instead, she wants to crawl her way out legally, the right way, with nothing but good old fashioned hard work.
It seems to pay off, until Howard, in a single instant, crushes her. Better Call Saul has proven it can make a villain out of anyone, even if they aren’t a crazy drug dealer, and the reality is devastating. The last thing I expected would be for Kim to see the world the way Jimmy does. Chuck may try and dissuade her with stories from their youth, but it’s clear her gears are turning. For Jimmy to have a true partner in crime would be a propulsive route for the show to take.
It’s almost strange to see someone else in this show get punished for taking the high road besides Jimmy. That’s been his entire arc for a season and a half, and to see someone else suffer the same fate, someone who has been on the straight and narrow their entire career, is a slap in the face. As Chuck tells her, Jimmy isn’t a bad person, but he has a habit of hurting those closest to him. It’s a strength of the show that they can extend that unfairness of the world to someone besides our protagonist.
Kim isn’t the only one who gets expanded upon this week. This week’s lengthy teaser was a desaturated look at the not-too-distant past, before Chuck was afflicted with his electromagnetic sensitivity. It’s the first time we’re really given a look into his past life, or even seeing him interacting with someone that isn’t Jimmy.
Speaking of characters interacting without Jimmy, “Rebecca” was full of great moments where we were allowed to see how characters react without him in the picture. Instead, this episode gives us a clear view into how Jimmy has affected people, even when he’s not around. Kim digs in deeper to prove that hard, legal work is the path to success, until she’s let down. Chuck still holds resentment over their father’s death who always saw the “good in people,” even if it meant ignoring that Jimmy would pilfer $14,000 from his store.
This echoing influence of character is done superbly in Better Call Saul. Yeah, the show is much slower than its drug infused predecessor, but look at where it’s taking us. Walt’s obsession with his product had linear consequences, but they weren’t very subtle (he inadvertently made two planes crash, okay?). Jimmy has a much more grating influence. It’s the kind of character he is. He’s constantly getting knocked down when he tries to do the right thing, rolls around in the dirt, then gets back up to try again. Every time he does, he shakes the people around him, and it’s starting to have a visible effect.
It’s really spectacular television. Vince Gilligan and company do a superb job of keeping Jimmy’s story on the slow boil while throwing us into the more high-octane world of Mike’s life. It’s clear he’s going to learn his lesson about taking half-measures here, and it’s another case of the show using previous characters to expand upon the unknown, rather than give us something for the sake of familiarity. We’ll see where this goes.
Odds & Ends:
- Kim standing underneath the “Out” sign when she fielded that winning phone call. So close.
- “I’ll go get my favorite pen!” – What kind of an excuse is that?
- Was that diner at the end kind of familiar? Can any other Breaking Bad sleuths figure that out?
- I loved that Rebecca wasn’t bothered by Jimmy at all, and even had a few lawyer jokes of her own.
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