REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Something Beautiful”

The following is a recap and review of the third episode of the fourth season of Better Call Saul, available on AMC in the U. S. and on Netflix internationally. Expect story spoilers. 

In the third episode of the fourth season — Something Beautiful — Kim Wexler (played by Rhea Seehorn) gets back to work, Nacho (played by Michael Mando) gets hurt, and Jimmy (played by Bob Odenkirk) tries to steal a Bavarian Boy Hummel-figurine. Something Beautiful was written by Gordon Smith and directed by Daniel Sackheim.

Let me start by saying something that everyone knows to illuminate the dual purpose that the series has. Better Call Saul is both a spin-off show and a prequel show. It is connected to Breaking Bad — it exists in the same universe — but it absolutely is a spin-off show. Much of the series has been devoted to a sibling relationship that frankly did not exist in Breaking Bad, and that, along with the Hamlin and Wexler sections, are the sections that are tied to the spin-off element of the show.

But it is, as mentioned, also a prequel show which each season reminds us how Jimmy’s journey concludes at the end of Breaking Bad, while it teases us with his future by giving us small black-and-white glimpses into the bleak future with a secret identity. But prequels tend to serve the purpose of explaining something greater. With Better Call Saul, we want to know how and why Jimmy McGill becomes Saul Goodman, we want to know how Gus meets Mike, and then we want to get a better idea of the state of the crime world of Breaking Bad before Walter White got a criminal idea one day.

We have now come so far that Better Call Saul is morphing into some version of Breaking Bad as Jimmy McGill is ignoring his past and embracing his scheming ways. This episode more than anything reminds us of how far some of the series’ central characters have gotten. Mike is already working with Fring and Lydia, Nacho has gotten even deeper in the business of Salamanca and Fring, and Jimmy McGill is starting to lose the anchors that kept him civil.

Interestingly, Jimmy, in Something Beautiful, is advised by Mike to not go ahead with the Bavarian Boy-mission that he has planned for them both. Mike, now with a ‘job’ (of sorts), has no interest in this risky endeavor, and he doesn’t think this is good for Jimmy either. At this point, even Mike is noticing how Jimmy is trying to stay detached from the reality of what happened to Chuck. But Jimmy needs to scratch that itch, and he needs to keep himself busy. If he doesn’t, he is forced to face the fact that his brother took his own life, in part, because of something he did.

But Jimmy eventually gets in touch with a new associate named Ira (played by Franc Ross) — who some fans may remember from Breaking Bad. Their mission is such a glorious mess-up. In theory, Jimmy’s plan doesn’t sound too bad, but, of course, he didn’t expect the owner of Neff Copiers to sleep in his office after having been thrown out of his home. Seeing Ira in trouble brings forth a perfect mixture of anxiety, tension, and hilarity. I don’t know how Ira stayed hidden so well under that desk. Slippin’ Jimmy’s mission ends up alright in the end, but it was touch and go for a minute there, and it is a criminal activity that, I think, will be remembered as one of the classic Slippin’ Jimmy scenes when it is all said and done.

While Jimmy tries to find a partner and pull off a criminal activity, Kim is starting to realize that she is overburdened by her relationship with Mesa Verde. In this episode, the financial institution reveals to Kim just how ambitious they are.

And while one of her clients talks about his plans for the future, Kim stops listening and starts to think. It isn’t immediately apparent what is on her mind, but when she is about to walk out of the Mesa Verde building, she stops to stare at the company logo — a cowboy. A lone ranger, some might call it. This is when Kim decides to let others carry some of the load. She lets the paralegal complete the Mesa Verde paperwork and decides to instead go to the courthouse, which we don’t get to see her visit here.

Later, at the end of the episode, Kim decides to give Jimmy the letter Chuck had written for him. The letter, which, I feared, wouldn’t be read until the final episode, clearly moves Kim, but Jimmy doesn’t care for the content. It’s just another letter with false compliments and sentiments. Jimmy knows that Chuck didn’t love him because he told him so in their last conversation together. Furthermore, the letter was clearly written years ago.

But the fact that Jimmy isn’t moved by the letter does frustrate Kim, and she ends up running to the bedroom while Jimmy looks confused. Thankfully, the show doesn’t overexplain what is happening here. I read the scene like so: I think Kim is frustrated with how detached Jimmy is from everything. I think a part of her feels responsible for what they did to Chuck, who she has previously referred to as a ‘sick man,’ and, more than anything, I think she is frustrated with Jimmy for not having had a real reaction to his brother’s death yet. She has been there for Jimmy, but he doesn’t seem willing to ‘let her in’ as he deals with Chuck’s suicide.

Finally, let’s talk briefly about Michael Mando’s Nacho Varga episode-opening storyline. This opening startled me. I realized that Fring’s men had to do something to make it look like they didn’t murder Arturo, but I didn’t realize how much Nacho had to be hurt to convince the Salamancas. Nacho is wounded and vulnerable now, and I worry about the safety of his family.

In my review of the last episode, I noted how the differences between the A and B storyline of the show (A being Jimmy and B being Mike) had, in that episode, become too pronounced. In Something Beautiful, due to the sizable chunk of the A story of the episode being devoted to Jimmy scheming and slippin’, as it were, those differences are not as noticeable.

The Kim scenes at Mesa Verde and the episode’s final scene are the only ones that are strictly Better Call Saul, whereas the rest of the episode is Breaking Bad-light complete with an appearance from Gale Boetticher (that was great, by the way), cartel drama, breaking and entering, and a couple at the center of the story that is unable to properly communicate. This just goes to show how far we’ve come, and it makes me worried for Kim Wexler’s future.

A-

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen

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