Tag Archives: Michael McKean

Better Call Saul 2.10 – “Klick”

For a season finale as understated as “Klick”, concluding the second-season run of a show as understated as Better Call Saul, an awful lot happened in one hour. Time and again we find ourselves referring to Saul in terms of a balancing act — between comedy and drama, between moral and immoral, between sympathetic and pathetic, between action and inaction. “Klick” lived in a few of those spaces, none more obvious than the space between subtlety and downright ridiculousness. Saul on the whole thrives in this balancing act, and in part it’s forced to do so by the predecessor Breaking Bad. Saul has to balance restraint with forward progress, treading lightly so as to remain interesting while not intruding on Bad‘s storylines.

Take the first scene of “Klick”, veering toward the latter on the scale spanning subtlety and ridiculousness. Jimmy and Chuck sit by their ailing mother’s hospital bed, Mrs. McGill lying unconscious as she closes in on death. It’s been a while, apparently, and so Jimmy recommends they go get hoagies. Chuck declines — he won’t leave his mother, not now. Jimmy? Yeah: Jimmy wants a hoagie. So Jimmy goes to get a hoagie. When he’s alone with his silent mother Chuck breaks down, perhaps remembering how Jimmy screwed his father over right before his expiration date. Chuck cries because if his mother dies then it will just be him and Jimmy, which in Chuck’s mind is tantamount to it just being him.

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Better Call Saul 2.4 – “Gloves Off”

IGN said it best: Better Call Saul has high stakes, and yet somehow they’re mostly personal stakes. Yes, Mike’s storyline finds him embroiled in a dangerous and deceptive feud between Nacho and Tuco, wherein the stakes are most certainly life-and-death. Obviously Mike’s personal experiences and outlook play into his actions (more on that later), but when juxtaposed against Jimmy’s it’s clear that Mike deals with a lot of external factors in the form of predictable people. Tuco will kill Nacho someday, so Nacho takes the initiative to kill him first. Tuco will take the bait Mike lays out for him, and the police will arrive at around the time Mike intends them to arrive. Mike says to Nacho “Your Tuco Salamanca problem goes away,” with such certainty that before the plan is put into effect we’re already pleased with the result.

Jimmy’s side of the series is a little different, not because the people he’s surrounded by are any less predictable but because each of them is most concerned with their own personal reputation. If Mike fails there’s a distinct possibility it will end his life; if Jimmy fails it will end his career. Actually, “failing” to Jimmy now seems synonymous with “following all of the rules”, which would in fact result in him keeping his job, which everyone but Jimmy would likely deem “succeeding”. Saul asks us to see his side of things while positing that he’s the one who’s backwards, and never was that more clear than in “Gloves Off”.

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Better Call Saul 1.8 – “RICO”

I’m such a huge fan of Michael McKean’s Chuck, brother to Jimmy McGill in Better Call Saul, and “RICO” really underscored why. His casting was great based on looks alone, but soon it was clear that the character had a heck of a lot more to him than “looking like Bob Odenkirk”. The fifth episode “Alpine Shepherd Boy” delved into Chuck’s condition — a strange aversion to electromagnetism — and yet delved even deeper into the relationship between Chuck and Jimmy. Coincidentally, we also recently wrote about shots like the mailbox one above in our discussion of Michael Mann’s The Insider, so, yeah. There’s that.

First, though, before talking about Chuck’s medical/mental affliction, it’s worth recounting “RICO”s mini-flashback. Since “Uno” reached forward into Jimmy/Saul’s post-Breaking Bad life, each succeeding flashback has contributed to a portrait of who Jimmy used to be. As we discussed in last week’s review of “Bingo“, the answer to that question is really multiple answers: Jimmy’s a chameleon of sorts, shifting from street-level con-man to remorseful convict and now to mailboy at HHM, and there’s a sense that the “present-day” events are a continuation of this constant reinvention.

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