REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Something Stupid”

The following is a recap and review of the seventh 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 seventh episode of the fourth season — Something Stupid — Jimmy (played by Bob Odenkirk) has to ask Kim (played by Rhea Seehorn) for her assistance when his bodyguard, Huell Babineaux (played by Lavell Crawford), is arrested for protecting Jimmy. Something Stupid was written by Alison Tatlock and directed by Deborah Chow.

I hadn’t thought that the show would have time for a time jump before Jimmy actually broke down about his brother’s death. With how this episode opened, it is becoming more and more likely that we won’t truly see Jimmy react to his brother’s death until the season finale — if ever.

Like I’ve previously written, I have been really happy with this season’s episode-opening teasers. But with Something Stupid, the team behind the show topped themselves. The impeccably designed and brilliantly edited episode-opening teaser is Better Call Saul at its very best.

I think this is the sort of time jump sequence that you can talk about for hours, so I probably won’t talk about everything here, but I really enjoy how the sequence is split up — and how in the very opening they start ‘on the same page (and at the same pace),’ so to speak, before things change as months fly by.

We start with shots signifying the routine of day-to-day life and cohabitation and then the cover of the classic love song that the episode is named after — “Somethin’ Stupid” — begins. Thereafter we get to see how their lives are on separate tracks with the Saul Goodman-business card being juxtaposed with the Kimberley Wexler-office nameplate. There are similarities, but the nature of their work couldn’t be more different.

In the neatest and most subtle moment of devastation for me, they show Kim and Jimmy eat their dinner in the kitchen next to each other, with that one line in the middle separating them. They are sitting there at the same time, but they are made to appear divided — because in some ways they are. The team behind Better Call Saul dares us to play ‘spot the difference’ for just a second as the time jump sequence moves forward.

As the beautiful song, which I always sing along to (I can’t help myself), winds down towards the end, Jimmy and Kim sit at opposite ends of the screen. They are both eating, but she is in her own office, whereas Jimmy sits late at night by himself with only his fish to keep him company. It is a depressing visual. With a time jump that is sure to change everything we know about the various character relationships, as well as with a neat black line down the middle, the episode has managed to make us nervous about the state of the Wexler-McGill couple relationship just five minutes into the episode.

After the short but sweet title sequence, we continue to be shown how different Jimmy and Kim’s careers are. Jimmy shows his bodyguard, Huell, an office that he may get for when he is reinstated as a lawyer soon. It’s not exactly what Huell imagines a hot-shot lawyer’s office to look like, and it seems like Jimmy feels the same way. It doesn’t help that, at a Schweikart & Cokely office party, Jimmy later gets to see what an actual office should look like. It isn’t so much about the dimensions of the office as everything else. He is so low on the totem pole compared to Kim.

That may be why he makes a scene at the party. It may also be for what Schweikart represents to Jimmy. Schweikart & Cokely was the company that effectively ruined his dream of working together with his partner. Wexler-McGill is over because of Schweikart & Cokely — and Jimmy is clearly upset about it.

Later, when a police officer in street clothes approaches Jimmy, or Saul as he calls himself here, to ‘ask’ him to find another ‘more public’ corner of the city to sell his phones, Jimmy and the officer get into an argument.

Huell, his bodyguard who we all know and love from Breaking Bad, then does his job as any bodyguard caught off-guard would do — he protects his client (albeit a bit too forcefully). Huell clearly didn’t know who the cop was (and how would he with the officer in street clothes and with his back turned to Huell?), but the cop (and the prosecutor) insist that he recognized him. Huell and Jimmy need help.

Enter Kimberley Wexler, big time Schweikart & Cokely lawyer. Jimmy isn’t reinstated as a lawyer for about a month, so he needs his partner to be, well, his partner on this case. When Jimmy has to try to convince Kim that she should help him, he reveals to her that he has been selling drop-phones.

There is a really great two shot in this scene, where we see Kim and Jimmy sit on the same sofa in her office. He is all in dark clothing, with Kim’s suit being a very light blue color. Here I gather that their clothing choices symbolize the state of their individual moral code. The initially somewhat reluctant Kim is clothed in this pure and honest light blue, whereas Jimmy’s dark suit suggests deception and secrecy.

Kim accepts the case — initially on her terms — but she isn’t particularly interested in Jimmy’s methods, and she hates having to be put in this situation. At the end of this scene, Kim has her assistant close the door on Jimmy, who looks back with a concerned look on his face.

If you compare Kim’s clothing in the scene with Jimmy to what she wears once she meets the prosecutor, you see what effect having to take this case has on her character. Suddenly, she isn’t wearing these cheerful light colors. Here she is dressed in a blend of the two suits from before. She now wears a dark blue suit in a scene in which she tries to convince the prosecutor that the officer is in the wrong.

But maybe — just maybe — it is the prosecutor who deals the cruelest blow of the episode. When Kim discusses the case with the prosecutor, she gets the reality of the situation thrown in her face — Kim is choosing to trust a ‘scumbag’ lawyer with an awful reputation.

Kim Wexler is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The prosecutor is, in a way, right — no other lawyer in Kim’s position would come to the defense of Jimmy McGill. But, in the next scene, Jimmy suggests that he will have to do what is necessary to get the job done. Once again, Kim has to choose between her personal life and her morals. As the end of the episode suggests, Kim Wexler may have found a way to balance the two sides of her. Though I’m not sure what the pens and markers that she buys are meant to be for.

If you’ve been following along as I review these episodes, you know that I am uncomfortable with how much the show relies on the Mike and Gus scenes when, in my opinion, I don’t think we need to learn so much more about them. I don’t feel like their scenes have captivated me in the way that the uncertain Nacho-storyline has, which is why I was annoyed with how we didn’t get to see Michael Mando’s ‘Nacho’ in this episode.

I get that one of the reasons for the time jump is for Don Hector to have improved and for the German construction crew to have gotten farther into the process of actually building Fring’s lab, but their storylines just don’t seem urgent to me right now for whatever reason.

That said, this is another stunning episode of Better Call Saul. Once again, the editing is such a highlight. Previously this season, I wrote about how much I loved the ‘Street Life-montage’ from Quite a Ride, and the opening sequence in Something Stupid is just as impressive — and much more important, I’d say.

A-

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen

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