Can’t Stand It, I Know You Planned It
Well, after my discussion last week about Mike and Jimmy’s stories lacking both story and thematic cohesion, “Nailed” delivered blows in perfect tandem. Breaking Bad fans will recognize the theme of “half measures” as a very important lesson for our characters. Better Call Saul leans comfortably back on this motif, while also putting the direct consequences of their actions front and center. It was the show’s best episode to date, and proved that BCS can deliver an episode as powerful and tense as its predecessor.
I mentioned this before, but the show’s ability to just bypass cheap drama continues to be a strength of the series. I was on the edge of my seat when Chuck confronted both Jimmy and Kim, not only because of the dynamic at stake, but for fear the show would make Kim wallow in disbelief for the rest of the episode. A few swift punches in the car told us everything we needed to know, and seeing her stand up to Chuck in such a direct manner was a triumphant moment for the show.
Meanwhile, Mike manages a successful hit on one of Salamanca’s trucks, stealing a hefty sum of money, an attempt to draw the attention of the cops. In true Mike fashion, he leaves the driver alive, something Taco picks up on immediately. Unfortunately, in tying loose ends, a good Samaritan was murdered for helping the driver. It’s an important lesson we know Mike will take with him in the near future, but the immediate consequence is seeing vulnerability in a previously stoic character. To put it bluntly, Mike fucked up, and I don’t think it’s a mistake we’ll see him make again. He wanted to attract the attention of the cops so he wouldn’t have to expose himself personally, something we know he’ll eventually have to do.
“Nailed” then takes this theme of consequence and continues to elevate it through Jimmy’s arc. His half measure was not making sure the copy-guy would remain silent, and a last minute effort to rectify his mistake lead to some extremely long term consequences. The way that Chuck’s electromagnetic sensitivity ebbed and flowed throughout the episode was superbly done, culminating in a soft, but powerful, whack on the head as he passes out.
It’s incredible that the show even managed to get me to build an ounce of sympathy for Chuck during the hearing. Seeing him overcome his condition would be a high-point for any other objectively “good” character on any other show, and here it’s played for a much different effect. He’s brought back into the buzzing and painful world because of Jimmy’s actions, which makes them downright contemptible. I knew on the surface that Chuck was getting what he deserved (the moment when he “corrected” his client was exceptionally tasty), but something about that scene made me sick to my stomach. Maybe I was just afraid of the ramifications.
That sinking feeling carried over into the altercation between the three characters, but Kim’s masterful command of the situation, with the help of some phenomenal writing, made that sickness ease off until the end. Better Call Saul cemented itself as one of television’s greats tonight. It will be interesting to see how Chuck’s fate affects Jimmy moving forward. Perhaps with him out of the way, there will be nothing to keep him grounded to anything resembling “real” law. With Kim’s passive acceptance of his actions, she’s also crossed a line with their relationship.
- “You and Mozart, huh? You both started young.”
- That was a lot of work for a shot of a big flag in the background.
- This review is late because, again, I don’t have access to the show at the time it airs most of the time.
- Forgive me.
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