REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Coushatta”

The following is a recap and review of the eighth 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 eighth episode of the fourth season — Coushatta — Jimmy (played by Bob Odenkirk) and Kim (played by Rhea Seehorn) try to make it so that Huell Babineaux avoids a prison sentence, while Nacho (played by Michael Mando) is introduced to another member of the Salamanca family. Coushatta was written by Gordon Smith and directed by Jim McKay.

I pay attention when Gordon Smith has written an episode of Better Call Saul. On multiple occasions, Smith has written some of the most memorable and, arguably, the best episodes of the show. Not every one of his episodes is as brilliant as the next, obviously, but Coushatta is definitely one of the more memorable episodes this season.

When I wrote my review of the previous episode, I mentioned how I was unsure of how Kim would balance her moral code with Jimmy’s incessant need to cut corners for his clients. As presented via a long virtually unexplained sequence wherein Jimmy travels to Louisiana, we see that Kim is still ready and able to ignore her moral code when it comes to Jimmy. They are partners, and she is willing to go the extra mile for him, even though they’ve had some rough periods recently.

Sending fabricated letters of support from Huell’s hometown, then setting up a supportive homepage about him and his local community, before, finally, having prepared scripted dialogue for various ‘characters’ to back up Huell’s story is such a brilliant Saul Goodman trick, which makes it even more impressive that, at least, one of these three ideas was Kim’s. Kim is just as ingenious as Jimmy, when she lets herself slip, so to speak.

“Because some of the old folks around here they like to brush up on the bible before they go to sleep.”

This was the spark their relationship needed, and, at the end of the episode, it looks like Kim is ready to try again with her partner to capture the fun that once led them together. These scenes also give us great opportunities to see Bob Odenkirk do a lot of fun stuff. Seeing his character order around the various people on the bus was great, but nothing topped the joy I got out of hearing Odenkirk try to use a Louisianan accent to fool the prosecutor. This episode’s A-story is the most fun that I’ve had with the show this year.

Unlike recent weeks, the secondary, or supporting, storylines in this episode work wonderfully. There really isn’t much that screams ‘filler’ about these scenes. With Mike, you are starting to see that he may have overlooked his favorite member of the German construction crew, Werner, who is starting to become a much bigger problem than Kai has been.

But the most exciting thing about the B-story in this episode was what little we got with Nacho, who has become one of my favorite characters on the show. It has been a little while since we last saw Nacho on the show, but here we get new glimpses into the life of the man who ruined Hector Salamanca’s.

Nacho has clearly taken over the responsibilities and role that Hector previously served, as is made clear in his first scene in the episode when he shows what he and his team has to do when those below them don’t show up with enough money for the Salamanca business.

More interesting are the small glimpses we get into Nacho’s life at home. He has a huge house, which I don’t think we’ve ever seen before (and it isn’t quite clear if he has always had that, or if it is his new home after having gotten bigger responsibilities with the Salamancas), and two addicted young women live in it with him.

In his bedroom, we see that he keeps false IDs for him and his father in a safe. Nacho Varga is clearly still struggling with finding a way out of the Salamanca business, and perhaps now is the time to make a move. Because, at the end of the episode, Nacho finds out that the organization has sent down another Salamanca to oversee the business — Eduardo ‘Lalo’ Salamanca.

Now, those of you who don’t rewatch Breaking Bad over and over again may not immediately understand why the introduction of Lalo is important. Let me clue you in. In the Breaking Bad episode titled “Better Call Saul”, Saul Goodman screams for his life to Jesse and Walt. Saul says that he didn’t do it, but that it was Ignacio (Nacho). When Jesse afterward asks for Saul not to scream in Spanish, Saul confused asks if Lalo didn’t send them, which he obviously didn’t.

What does this tell us? Well, for starters, Lalo is a man who can make people disappear — and clearly a man Saul fears and respects. Furthermore, Saul knows that Nacho did something. So if Lalo would be looking for Nacho, then it would make sense to think that Lalo finds out that Nacho switched out Hector’s pills. Here’s my best guess as to what will happen in future episodes. Pure and simple, Jimmy will help Nacho change his identity after Lalo starts to suspect what Nacho did in the past.

What is so uncomfortably creepy about Lalo in this episode, is how different Lalo is to other Salamancas. Lalo is almost charming and disarming, but I suspect he is as unpredictable as they come — so I am very excited to see what his introduction to the show will do to it. In any case, this is a memorable introduction of Lalo, played by Tony Dalton with an enthusiasm and charm that I’ve never seen from a Salamanca before. This should be interesting.

A

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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