Better Call Saul proved Chuck could be worse than we thought in episode eight's "Fifi."

Hey all, so Sling TV was being really weird last week and it took me a while to catch up on Better Call Saul. What an age we live in, eh? We have practically everything at our fingertips but all it takes is SOMEONE ELSE IN THE HOUSE TRYING TO WATCH THE SHOW AT THE SAME TIME TO RUIN EVERYTHING.

Anyway, Better Call Saul. I’ll keep this brief because another episode needs reviewing, but let’s get to the important bits: fuck Chuck. Despite being completely open about his desire to see his brother fail last season, this move against Kim is worse in every way. It goes beyond family politics. He’s actively hurting other people to get to Jimmy. What makes Chuck’s form of villainy so frustrating is that, unlike Jimmy, he operates within the rules of his world. He technically didn’t do anything wrong by trying to retain Mesa Verde for HHM, but he didn’t have to do anything at all.

On a more technical note, let’s talk about how “Fifi” uses framing to convey what it’s really trying to say. It’s bad enough that Chuck wants to ruin his brother’s chances of success, but look at what the show is highlighting. During his conference with Mese Verde, we’re given a closeup of the lamp above them, still on and shining, while our characters are smushed down below. The amount of pain Chuck had to undergo in order to perform this act is incredible, and underscored by the presence of the electronic devices left in the room.

What the show chooses not to frame is almost as important as what it does. The scene where Kim and Jimmy look at a very symmetrical dentist’s office is undercut by off-kilter framing. As the two discuss their potential future, the camera traps them both individually on one side of the screen, leaving a trail of empty, wasted space. It’s not a very confident shot because, as much as we want to believe in these two, this isn’t a very confident plan. Better Call Saul is a tragedy, we know this already, and the show does an excellent job of subtly reminding us of this fact without saying a word.

better call saul fifi review

Whatever Jimmy has planned for his brother Chuck he most certainly will have coming, but this constant slipping from the moral high ground will always be his undoing. They’re operating on two different methods of deception, and Jimmy almost always starts in the hole. Compare this to Mike, who is now operating almost below the surface of any sense of moral direction. He does whatever he has to do to protect himself and his family, by any means necessary. He’s the level that Jimmy will eventually have to be at.

I’m still waiting for Mike’s story to become reframed within the context of what Better Call Saul has become. Last season did a great job of filling in some backstory, but keeping his story mostly isolated from Jimmy’s, both in terms of plot and theme, makes me feel like I’m watching two different spinoffs. This isn’t to say I’m not excited to see Mike raise his granddaughter while plotting the demise of a drug empire, I just wish it clicked better with Jimmy’s own problems. It would make the show feel more cohesive, instead of sprawling.

Right now though, I’m more concerned with Jimmy making Chuck look like a fool, for better or worse. We’ve got two episodes left, and Better Call Saul is steadily crushing Jimmy under the moral weight that’s been building all season.

 

  • I’m glad to see that Hamlin actually has an origin story and was wondering when we were going to hear it. Still, calling Kim’s clients immediately after she left the room was a dick move.
  • “You’re heroic! Not that heroic, throw it away a little.”
  • I don’t think Jimmy went to Chuck’s house with the intention of sabotaging him. It seemed more to me like an opportunistic attack.
  • What a lovely one-take opening shot detailing the Salamanca smuggling business.

Steve Dixon

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