REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Talk”

The following is a recap and review of the fourth 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 fourth episode of the fourth season — Talk — Mike (played by Jonathan Banks) talks in group therapy, Kim (played by Rhea Seehorn) observes, and Jimmy (played by Bob Odenkirk) goes to work. Talk was written by Heather Marion and directed by John Shiban.

Talk begins with a memory, and not just any memory. Back in season three — in the episode Off Brand — Stacey (played by Kerry Condon) told Mike that Matty, Mike’s late son, had told her about how Mike had let him write his name in the cement during a construction project. Mike didn’t seem to remember. Now we got to see it here.

This is a part of the episode-opening teaser, which, as a whole, is really a flash forward to a later scene in the episode. In said scene, Mike decides to out one of the people in the group therapy session, Henry (played by Marc Evan Jackson), as exploiting their compassion and attention.

Mike’s rant at Henry is motivated by an underlining anger. Neither Stacey nor Anita can stop Mike from telling everyone what he thinks of Henry. Now, why is that? Well, I read this entire scene as essentially revealing that he and Jimmy are not so dissimilar. Just like how Jimmy is trying to ignore the idea of having to confront the loss of his brother, Mike needs work — at Madrigal or with Fring — to keep him from thinking about what has destroyed him — Matty.

During group therapy, Stacey says that she is starting to realize she can go days without thinking about Mike’s son. This clearly riles Mike up, and I think the scene is meant to show us that Mike can recognize that same feeling, and he doesn’t want anyone to see him vulnerable — especially not some phony person like this ‘Henry.’ Later in the episode, Mike takes on a new job for Fring — anything will do to keep him from accepting what happened to his son.

Again, I hope my reading helps my readers understand how I think the writers want us to understand this episode as a whole. I think the writers of the show want us to understand how similar the series’ two main characters are. These are tragic personalities, and this episode managed to explain their similarities quite well.

Because Jimmy is also going deeper into the criminal world to ignore his own responsibility and sorrow. Kim suggests that he should go to a psychiatrist, and Jimmy lies to his partner to get out of it (this can only end badly). Jimmy accepts a boring day job to avoid dealing with his relationships. It is disappointing to see, but you understand it from a character perspective.

Kim is ignoring her responsibilities as well. In the previous episode, she realized the heavy workload and burden that her clients at Mesa Verde demanded. Here we observe how a judge sees right through her. He’s seen other people like Kim searching for the love of the profession, and Kim clearly isn’t in the right headspace for whatever reason. This season is still dealing with the fallout of the loss of Chuck, and maybe Kim still feels like her job made a sick man lose the will to live.

Elsewhere, Nacho (played by fan-favorite actor Michael Mando) is still dealing with the fallout of his mission to rid the world of Don Hector. He is wounded and hurt, and he has a dual responsibility to the Salamancas and to Fring. It is tearing Nacho apart, and seeing him return to his family home to ask for the opportunity to rest tells us that Nacho is done. He is dangerously close to involving his family even more than they already were. This is like watching a car crash in slow motion. Surely, it can only end one way.

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t love this episode the first time I watched it. I was disappointed with how it only gradually moved the story forward, and I didn’t think it worked as a standalone episode very well. I would understand if some people thought it was slightly underwhelming. Had I reviewed the episode when I first saw it last week, then I probably wouldn’t have given it as high a score as I do today.

The fact of the matter is that when I rewatched it today, everything just clicked for me. I made the character similarity connection, and I appreciated the work they did to connect the episode to pivotal character moments, while still advancing the plot. I still have some issues with it, but I’m glad I got to rewatch it before I reviewed it here.

B+

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen

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