Better Call Saul gave us a great follow up to last week's episode with "Bali Ha'i."

“In Your Heart You’ll Hear It Call You…Come Away…Come Away”

For two episodes now, Better Call Saul has had the guts to completely sideline its main character in favor of expanding on others, and the show continues to be all the better for it. “Bali Ha’i” is really the second part of last week’s “Rebecca,” and it continued to push Kim in a direction I did not expect, while pushing Mike into dangerous waters.

The show’s handling of Kim Wexler’s storyline this season is really an example of the mastery the creators have on its world in characters. Like I mentioned last week, Kim was really more of a goal for Jimmy. He tried to stay on the straight and narrow for her, and this episode told us that she recognizes that. This makes her decision to call Jimmy to swindle another high-roller all the more intriguing. She knows it’s wrong, and even though she won’t actually cash the check, seeing her slide more towards Jimmy’s world is fascinating.

This is because honestly, her hard work isn’t entirely paying off. She makes a strong case against the Sandpiper’s defendants, but of course will ultimately lose. It’s the game Howard has been playing with her all season, highlighted by the fact that he refuses to speak to her in the hallway, despite removing her from doc review. Seeking other shores would be the logical choice for anyone else in her position (hence the episode title and theme), and the opportunity brought to her by the defendant is tempting.

Of course, this could mean that Kim will end up working on the opposite end of the Sandpiper case, against Jimmy, but part of me thinks he would be okay with that. It’s clear he’s unhappy where he is now, unable to sleep in the gigantic apartment Davis & Maine provided him, instead seeking the comfort of the nail salon. It’s here where he’s most at home, away from the tedious protocol of the office. It’s why he rips the cup holder out of his car so his mug will fit. He’ll make his own future, breaking the rules like he always has. All that’s left now is to see where Kim ultimately falls.

better call saul bali ha'i review s02e06

While Jimmy returns “home” to comfort and solace, Mike has no such luxury. He’s being watched by Salamanca’s men, and for the first time in the history of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, we see that he’s scared. He plays it cool and calm when face to face with his henchmen and in front of Hector himself, but watching his hand shake after cleaning the gun is a terrifying moment. Of course he cares more about his grand-daughter than his own life, which makes the return (or rather, introduction I guess) of the Salamanca Cousins all the more horrifying.

It’s interesting to see the show introduce all of these players whose fates Breaking Bad fans already know. While it worked initially, especially with Tuco, stacking the villainous side of the show with familiar faces definitely deflates some tension. However, maybe because of this weight that is carried by these characters already, we actually get something new. We know Mike is scared, thanks primarily to the two instances of him trembling, but we also know why he’s scared. He feels trapped, watched from every angle, and that feeling is palpable to the viewer.

As always, I trust the showrunners to deliver with the remaining four episodes. That’s a lot of time to move some more players around, and I’ve been looking forward to an intersection of Mike and Jimmy again since “Cobbler.” It will be interesting to see if Jimmy gets involved in Tuco’s case involving the gun charge. That is a matchup that would be worth waiting for.

Odds & Ends

  • Good old Santo and Johnny’s Sleepwalk opened up the episode.
  • Of course the real song of the episode is “Bali Ha’i” itself, recounting an exotic, but unattainable island in the Pacific, a metaphor for all the places our characters would rather be.
  • That long awkward tracking shot of Kim and Howard walking through HHM was…uncomfortable (in a good way!).
  • They went with the blue swirls for the Sandpiper commercial. Ouch.

Steve likes exotic islands. Follow him on Twitter. 

Steve Dixon

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