Title: Better Call Saul: “Rebecca”
Airdate: March 14th, 2016
Genre: Crime, Drama, Comedy
It never ceases to amaze me how Better Call Saul is able to weave characters in from Breaking Bad so masterfully that they feel as if they’re entirely new to us. This week we saw focus shift more from Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) to that of Kim (Rhea Seehorn) a Chuck (Michael McKean) who may seem to have more in common than they thought. Though Jimmy’s storyline was more filler than anything, the fantastic performances by both Seehorn and McKean helped deliver another fantastic episode in this second season.
Let’s back up to the beginning, as once more we got a glimpse into Jimmy’s past which has still been largely shrouded in mystery. It’s impressive the level of restraint Better Call Saul has had when it comes to giving us all of Jimmy’s backstory, as every episode we only get small glimpses and information about who “Slick Jimmy” was. The dinner scene between Jimmy, his brother, and his brother’s wife Rebecca (Ann Cusack) only helped to illustrate the incredible tension and divide between the duo. Chuck and Jimmy have always had very different outlooks on life with one willing to do everything he has to (lawful or not) to get what he wants while the other is very by the books and regimented. Chuck’s grudge for Jimmy is clearly beyond the fact that his younger brother became a lawyer, but he is just more charming than he is. This feud between them runs deep and Chuck’s forced attempt to be like Jimmy after the dinner shows just how jealous he really is. It also doesn’t help that Chuck was already apologizing to Rebecca for Jimmy’s behavior though it will be interesting to see how this develops further over the coming season. While Chuck has been a generally annoying and frustrating character, you cannot deny there is some reasoning behind his disdain for Jimmy as superficial as it is. Jimmy can make his wife laugh, appears to be the life of the party and has natural charm, something Chuck always seems to lack.
Speaking of Jimmy his role this week was surprisingly minimal, albeit quite funny. Better Call Saul has always had a dark sense of humor, but the straight edged “babysitter” Jimmy receives was a fairly hilarious little arc. His interactions Erin did provide a small look into the repercussions of Jimmy making a commercial without his bosses knowledge. It also helped to highlight just how “fast and loose” Jimmy goes about dealing with the law as he was more than willing to bribe a court official for a better date. Though his story this week really was just more for show and to re-enforce the points made in the previous episode rather than contributing any forward development. While this is a bit disappointing, it was nice to see him step aside and let two of the side characters get more of the focus. This goes for Mike (Jonathan Banks) as well, who pretty much fell to the wayside despite receiving an epic beatdown by Tuco. Despite having a fascinating encounter in the last three minutes of the show with Breaking Bad staple Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis,) it was a bit sad to see Mike’s story not develop further. Given how much trouble he is probably in for putting Tuco away, the three minutes at the end felt like more of a tease than any actual insight into what may happen to him.
Normally having both of the shows main characters reduced to such small story arcs would hinder a show, but Rhe Seehorn’s performance as Kim absolutely dominated tonight. Kim has been a character I have been quite iffy about as she never seemed to break away from just being a romantic interest and general foil for Jimmy’s criminal behavior. This week showed that even when Jimmy is so willing to give up everything for her, Kim refuses to take any sort of easy route to success. She wants to clearly prove herself, going so far as to secure another law firm to help with a big client. She is more than just a love interest for Jimmy as in many ways Kim is what he could be if Jimmy just tried to act within the law during his work. However, this also shows how different the duo really are as their methods couldn’t be farther apart, even when Kim is pretty much denied all credit for her dedication and work. It’s an interesting division between the two, as Kim’s zealous nature to uphold the law and stay between the lines is nearly an 180 to how Jimmy operates in the firm.
Though it’s clear how alike Chuck and Kim are to a certain degree as they both resent Jimmy’s methods as a lawyer. After he is a great lawyer but the way in which he goes about it is extremely questionable, even if it is for the greater good. The sit down between Kim and Chuck just shows how alike they are in their viewpoints of him, even if in someway they care about him. Chuck a little bit less, but he is still Jimmy’s brother regardless. I’m curious to see how both will develop in terms of their own relationship to each other and their relationship with Jimmy. His methods and clear willingness to circumvent the law for his own gain can only get him so far before they step back and refuse to indulge his habits anymore. Jimmy is much like an addict in that sense and one of these days he is going to push too far and cross a line neither will forgive him for.
A special shout out tonight to the amazing cinematography for the opening scene this week as it was simply beautiful. Both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul have always had a unique and gorgeous style to them, and the superb use of blues in the flashback may be one of the best examples. The single lights on the bed with the massive spaces of black between Chuck and Rebecca helped emphasize the division between both characters, with Rebecca acting more as Jimmy than anything. All in all “Rebecca” was another great episode in a series that only ever has the smallest of cracks in each episode. Taking time to develop not only Chuck but Kim as well was a much-needed breath of fresh air even if Mike’s interactions were extremely lackluster. However, the prospect of having Hector back in the show and maybe even Gus at some point is too good to ignore!
- Characters: Kim and Chuck took center stage this week and were given some interesting developments in regards to their relationship with Jimmy. While Mike took a noticeable backseat, despite making some fairly big moves last week, this shift in focus was well overdue.
- Cinematography: Better Call Saul once again proves it may have some of the best lighting and colors on any television show currently out now.
- Story: Having us see the clear issues Chuck has that stem beyond Jimmy’s ability as a lawyer and Kim’s willingness to fight for her job delivered some excellent narrative moments. Though Jimmy’s interactions with the young lawyer Erin were funny, the story really did nothing more but back up previous beliefs and notions about him.
- Acting: As per usual, the cast delivered some knockout performances with Seehorn standing above the rest this week and McKean trailing just slightly behind her.
What did you think of this week’s Better Call Saul? Did you enjoy the Kim/Chuck-centered episode? Excited for Hector to return? Sound off below!
A recent graduate of Arcadia University, Collin MacGregor is a freelance video editor and writer. He covers video games, television, and film for The Nerd Stash. Collin currently is the head film/television reviewer for the site.