Better Call Saul, like Breaking Bad before it, has always been fond of word play, whether it’s Hank’s ‘Walt Whitman is actually Walter White’ revelation or the “FRING’S BACK” anagram hidden in the episode titles of BCS season 2.
This impishness continued in the fourth episode of BCS season 4, “Talk”, which centred on Jimmy reluctantly take a job in one of those cell phone stores at a strip mall you never see anyone going into and imagine no-one ever actually does.
The abject mundanity of the job played out beautifully, Jimmy pacing the customer-free shop bored out of his mind as a soft jazz album almost indistinguishable from straight elevator muzak piped out of the speakers. There was a nod to Steve McQueen in The Great Escape as Jimmy tossed a stress reliever ball against the wall out of tedium, and the store couldn’t have been set dressed more perfectly, from the garishly painted walls to the blandly corporate floor tiles and poster on the wall featuring stock photo model turned meme Hide The Pain Harold (below, who we actually interviewed not so long ago).
The humdrum life of a law-abiding citizen of Albuquerque just wasn’t doing it for Jimmy, who decided to duck out of the shop and collect his cut from the Hummel figurine robbery – and how deliciously bulging the envelop full of cash was too. Emboldened by this easy score, he returned to the strip mall (that peculiarly American construction being, of course, where Saul Goodman would later choose to house his law practice) and started painting in bold yellow and red – the colours of the show – large letters on the store front.
An “S”, an “M”, an “A”, an “O”... Was Jimmy boldly starting his new career from within the flagging phone shop whose manager never visits, spelling out his new name?
No, it turned out, the wide shot revealing Jimmy had written not “Saul Goodman” but, “IS THE MAN LISTENING? PRIVACY SOLD HERE”. It was just a typical Jimmy hard-sell strategy, but the creators clearly delighted in flirting with the possibility of resolving our protagonist’s arc. They weren’t finished there either, with Jimmy obscuring the camera’s view so that we could only see “IS THE MAN TENING?” Turning, he certainly is.
And now the subplots...
Kim got the smallest amount of screen time of a supporting character again this week and it was as inscrutable as episode 3‘s, as she stalked a courtroom monitoring case after case. The judge mocked her for waiting around for a cause worthy of a John Grisham novel but she was undeterred – that is if you believe this is what she was really doing. More likely is that Kim has other business in the courtroom but the creators aren’t ready to show us their cards just yet.
Poor old Nacho has had a tough start to season 4 to say the least, being shot twice from point-blank range to make a hoax drive-by look convincing last week and, while still recovering from his injuries, getting drawn into a gunfight at a stash house in the latest instalment. The Salamanca cousins successfully wiped out the Espinoza operation, and Nacho realised the whole ruse was motivated simply by a territory dispute. His new boss, Gus, unsurprisingly had little sympathy.
Similarly to the surprise of no one, bereavement counselling turned out not to be Mike’s cup of strong, sugarless tea in “Talk”, the airing of all this emotion – indulgent and self-perpetuating in his view – ultimately leading him to call out another person at the meeting as a faker (a la Fight Club) who in fact had no dead wife at all (you can take the man out of private investigation...).
Done with all this feelings nonsense, he returned to being pedantic about health and safety at Madrigal, only to be summoned by Gus. Seeing through Fring’s ostensible anger at Mike knowing about Nacho’s plot to kill Hector, he bluntly asked Gus what “the job” was that he obviously wanted Mike to do. That was the hanging question as we cut to black, and hopefully it’s a sizeable job, as it always falls on Mike to bring tension to an otherwise laidback and calmly paced show.
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