Four Letter Nerd

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 2 Recap: Breathe

Last week, I mentioned two things keeping Jimmy from full on embracing the inner Saul Goodman.

I mean, we all know it’s there full grown inside the inner conscious of the suspended lawyer. Last season, Jimmy had no issues outcasting an old lady from her friends in the most fragile and vulnerable time of her life if it would get him a payout now instead of later. And we saw last week how quickly Jimmy moved on from grieving his brother’s death once he knew Howard pushed Chuck over the edge (and after Jimmy’s initial push). He’s even done work with criminals, having already been a public defender and working out a deal for one drug dealer during community service.

The man Bob Odenkirk is playing in season 4 is basically Saul Goodman other than two major threads keeping him from full immersion.

Now, I think it will be a while before the first thread, the Jimmy/Kim thread, starts to splinter. But “Breathe,” the 2nd episode of Better Call Saul’s fourth season, sent us right into the second: what Jimmy will do while he’s suspended from practicing law.

And as it turns out, that “work” is “Slippin Jimmy” going on job interviews and scouting out potential suckers he can scam. No job will lead Jimmy McGill to fully embrace the inner Saul Goodman like that will.

“Breathe” also produced a lot of anger and muscle flexing as Kim put Howard in his place, Gus made a big move, and Hector got a new, highly qualified doctor.

Let’s start the recap this week with Jimmy as he begins his “employment search” and finds himself a couple of suckers.

“It says here, you were a lawyer, not that long ago.”

Jimmy the early riser is up and at it for a day of job interviews. Kim encourages him that it’s OK if he takes a little time off. But Jimmy insists he wants to bring in money to help their situation.

The only interview we see is one for a job as a copier salesman. Now, we all know Jimmy would clean up at that job. And he impresses the owners of the company with his knowledge of modern copiers. After being told he’ll get word about the position in a week, Jimmy goes back and gives a classic “Slippin Jimmy” sales pitch. And the pitch works as the job is offered on the spot.

Jimmy really impresses the owners of Neff Copiers.

But right after getting hired, Jimmy sabotages the whole thing. He chastises the interviewers for buying his sales pitch, walks out, and sets up his next interview. But as we will discover later, Jimmy had no intentions of taking that job or any other on this day.

“There’s nothing you can do. Just stay away.”

In their previous conversation, Kim mentions a meeting with Howard that Jimmy informs her he will not be attending. That meeting is to discuss Chuck’s estate.

Rebecca is there, and she will be receiving the majority of Chuck’s estate because, well, who else would he give it to? I mean, seriously, three/fourths of the people in the world who had a close relationship with Chuck are in this scene.

Jimmy will get $5,000 (just one thousand above the typical $4,000 for a relative you don’t want to leave anything to but want to avoid a lawsuit with), a position on the scholarship committee being created in Chuck’s honor, a chance to look through what’s left of Chuck’s house for anything Jimmy would like to keep, and a final goodbye letter from Chuck.

After Rebecca leaves, Kim goes off on Howard for everything he’s done since Chuck’s death: for showing up at their house the day of Chuck’s funeral to say Jimmy’s brother set himself on fire, for the insulting offer of a position on a scholarship committee for a “scholarship Chuck would never have offered Jimmy,” for “allowing” Jimmy to look through the house his brother was burned alive in, and for giving one final “f-you” letter from Chuck to Jimmy.

Anybody else out there love it when Kim Wexler goes bad ass on somebody?

After putting Howard in his place, Kim tells the owner of HHM to stay away.

Kim dressing down Howard for his conduct towards Jimmy after Chuck’s death.

“It’s a job. I think you’re really going to like it.”

Later, after a little love making with Kim, Jimmy wakes up in the middle of the night and researches Hummel figurines online. Jimmy noticed one in the office at Neff Copiers. One of the first clients Jimmy worked with back in season one wanted to make sure her collection of Hummel figurines was properly covered in the will.

With that knowledge in mind, Jimmy goes online and finds the very figurine he saw at Neff Copiers for sale for almost $8800 dollars. After confirming the price, Jimmy calls Mike (he never says Mike’s name but all the season previews and the preview for next week seem to confirm he wants Mike’s help for the job) and asks for a meeting.

“I decide what he deserves, no one else.”

Now onto cartel business, where Hector is still in the hospital and Gus is not happy about his condition.

The cartel world in Better Call Saul is much different than the world we’re presented with in Breaking Bad. In Breaking Bad, the Salamanca territory run by Tuco is a significant step below Gus’s operation. But the Salamanca territory run by Hector in BCS is considered equal ground (not necessarily based on the money they bring in, but both Gus and Hector are considered Don’s with equal authority over their respective territories.

What I think “Breathe” illustrated was Gus’s first move into changing that dynamic from equal territories to the King Gus we see when Walt meets the man in season 3 of BB.

In the beginning of the episode, Gus sends in Dr. Barry Goodman (a doctor on his payroll who appeared in Breaking Bad) to do an inspection of Hector’s vitals.

He says Hector is stable, but his future prospects do not look good. Goodman really thinks Hector deserves this fate, but a cryptic Gus, who is obsessed with controlling the circumstances of Hector’s death, says he’ll (Gus) “decide what he deserves.”

So to increase the chances of Hector’s survival, Gus (I’m assuming it was Gus who did this) sends a grant to Johns Hopkins to bring in Dr. Maureen Bruckner. She tells the twins, Nacho, and Arturo that she wants to rewire Hector’s brain in hopes that it will help him recover.

Dr. Maureen Bruckner discussing Hector’s condition with his nephews.

She also encourages Hector’s crew to talk with him. Arturo and Nacho tell the Don things are going great with the territory. Everyone is paying their full share of money and they’ve already fought off one gang who tried to infringe upon their territory. Then, to keep his cover, Nacho has to encourage Hector to “get past this” and be “stronger than ever.”

“I’m working on it.”

Speaking of Nacho, the night’s most heartbreaking scene took place when Nacho “greets” his dad at the office one morning. Nacho’s father won’t even speak to him and is scared to look at his own son. He lays money on the table and turns his back, hoping his son will just take it and move on. But Nacho assures his father that Don Hector will not be coming for him before taking the money his father laid on the table.

As he’s walking off, Nacho’s father asks his son when he’ll be out of the cartel. Nacho’s replay is “I’m working on it.” Now we don’t know if Nacho has truly been trying to escape the drug game. But after “Breathe’s” final scene, we know now that might be impossible.

“From now on, you’re mine.”

Later, Nacho and Arturo head over to pick up their usual haul from Gus. Recall last season Hector pulled a fast one on Gus by demanding more than the agreed amount during one of these meetings. When the meeting starts, Gus’s men try and return the deal to the original price. But Nacho pulls out a gun and everything returns back to normal.

Or so we thought. Well I don’t think most of us thought that as we all new Gus had something planned for them. But at least Nacho and Arturo thought everything was back to normal.

Last week, Gus told Don Bolsa he was concerned about other groups coming in and trying to take the Salamanca territory. What Gus didn’t make clear was that he was one of those men who would be swooping in. Now, I don’t know how much, if any, of the Salamanca territory Gus will claim for his own. But we can be sure he will do everything he can in his power to weaken it.

Gus’s men attach a bag around Arturo’s face and tie up his hands and feet so he can’t remove it. While Arturo slowly dies on the ground, Gus tells Nacho that he knows Nacho’s role in Hector’s stroke. And he will tell the Salamanca’s about that role if Nacho doesn’t work for Gus.

Gus looking down and addressing Nacho as Arturo lays dying on the ground.

Of Note

-Lydia tried to reprimand Mike for his actions last week. Mike’s response made complete sense: he needed cover for the money he’s receiving from Madrigal, and he plans on doing the same thing at the 7 other Madrigal plants in the southwest.

-Gus had no issue with Mike’s conduct, even going so far as to encourage Lydia to get Mike a badge so he won’t have to steal one.

-While all things on the surface seem fine on the Jimmy/Kim front, “Breathe” did introduce a few potential future complications for the couple.

-First, there’s the obvious one of Jimmy using a job search as cover for a crime he plans to commit.

-Second, there’s Jimmy’s early morning habits that could cost Kim sleep.

-And finally, there’s the letter from Chuck Kim decided not to give Jimmy.

-I did some research, and the show did a very accurate job regarding the pricing of those Hummel figurines. If you go to a mainstream shopping site like amazon, most of the Hummel dolls are for sale at anywhere between $20 or $40 dollars. But certain rare pieces have shown up at auctions and sold for thousands of dollars. Jimmy’s online search reflected this reality. His computer screen had prices for two Hummel figurines: the first being the one he saw at Neff Copier worth thousands of dollars and the second worth only $47.

I know it’s small print, but you’ll notice the bottom figurine on the page is worth significantly less than the one on top.

Next week, the cartel war heats up, Kim has a visit with her pals at Mesa Verde, and Jimmy and Mike are back together again!!! See you then.

 

 

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Jeff Merrick

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