REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Wiedersehen”

The following is a recap and review of the ninth 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 ninth and penultimate episode of the fourth season — Wiedersehen — Werner (played by Rainer Bock) makes a move, and Jimmy (played by Bob Odenkirk) runs into problems at his reinstatement hearing. Wiedersehen was written by Gennifer Hutchison and directed by Vince Gilligan.

Just like with the previous episode, Wiedersehen is an episode that you pay extra attention to simply because of what creative is attached to it. With Coushatta it was the writer, but for Wiedersehen it is all about the director.

Because Wiedersehen was directed by none other than Vince Gilligan — the creator of Breaking Bad and co-creator of Better Call Saul. Now Gilligan has directed just as many episodes of Better Call Saul as he directed episodes of Breaking Bad (5), but, hopefully, this won’t be his last — because I think Wiedersehen is the best episode of the season thus far.

I want to save the best for last, so let’s begin by talking about the supporting storylines. First up, Nacho is in trouble. In Coushatta, we were introduced to Lalo, and now the terrifyingly disarming Salamanca man has asked Nacho to go around with him on errands and such.

In what is perhaps the episode’s most unnecessary scene, which is, admittedly, still very good, Lalo gives us the origin story for Hector’s bell. Although this was a nice scene overall, I didn’t care for it all that much. It felt so, as I mentioned, unnecessary. Not all things need origin stories — sometimes a bell is just a bell (just like how Han Solo’s name can be ‘Solo’ without it needing to be explained, but I digress).

Potentially more problematic for Nacho is the fact that Lalo wants to know more about Gus Fring and his operation, which is why Nacho takes Lalo to Los Pollos Hermanos. Seeing Lalo and Gus talk about their business relationship is fascinating.

Lalo is clearly testing the man the Salamanca family has previously referred to as the ‘Chicken Man.’ Lalo is quick on his feet, and Gus wears many masks. If we see more of these interactions next season, then we should have great things in store coming up. As we see from Lalo’s last scene in the episode, the new Salamanca frontman isn’t done looking into Fring’s operation.

Fring is going to have his hands full, because, as we see in this episode, the German construction crew is causing much more trouble than previously expected. Werner, who Mike trusted more than anyone else, had started to show some really bad signs. Previously, Werner mentioned the construction design at a public bar, and now he has had panic attacks during construction — and he even expressed a desire to leave the construction crew for a couple of days.

And then he successfully escaped from the warehouse after he was denied the opportunity to meet with his wife for a few days. This is a big deal. Werner, whether he knows it or not, has just made himself a target for Fring to eliminate. Werner has always been very friendly, and Mike clearly likes him — but this is a line you can’t uncross.

Similarly, at the end of Wiedersehen, Kim and Jimmy have both said devastating words that they cannot take back. But before all of that happened, Kim and Jimmy pulled off another terrific scam together. To help Kim’s clients, she and Jimmy successfully replaced the plans for a bank branch in Texas. It is a very impressive act that they do together.

But while they celebrate the scam, Jimmy once again detects a cold shoulder from Kim, who clearly isn’t up for anything — she wants to ‘use their powers for good’. This isn’t the only time he will be rejected in this episode. Later, Jimmy McGill is ready for the reinstatement hearing that he has waited a year for — it is now time to become the great lawyer that he wants to be.

But it isn’t as simple as just saying it. A well-prepared Jimmy does a pretty great job at the hearing until he is blindsided by a broad but not entirely unreasonable question: what does the law mean to you? I am still, having now watched the episode two times, confused why this question would shock him. Sure, as Kim points out later, it is a big question, but I would expect every lawyer to have an answer.

Now, eventually, Jimmy did have an answer for the question — I even think it was a pretty good answer — but the committee was fishing for something very specific: Chuck. This won’t shock the audience, and it certainly didn’t shock Kim, but Jimmy, for some reason, does not understand why his influence would need to be stressed. Jimmy needs to show that he cares — he needs to show remorse — he just doesn’t really get why.

Surprisingly (to Jimmy, but not to us), the hearing committee decides to reject him. And that is when something inside Jimmy snaps. He chases down a member of the committee and bullies him into answering why he was rejected.

“Insincere.”

Seeing Slippin’ Jimmy — the ‘chimp with a machine gun’ — incredulously tear down the notion that his remarks may have been disingenuous or, as it were, insincere is tough, upsetting, and even somewhat cringe-worthy. “We will find a way to make you look sincere,” is the Kim-line that tips an already angry Jimmy over the edge. In his big argument with Kim, he is, perhaps unintentionally, likening Kim to Chuck.

He is frustrated with how she, to him, felt embarrassed with him at the big company party a few episodes ago. He thinks that she looks down at him, and he thinks that she doesn’t believe him. Whether he knows it or not, he is accusing her of all of the same things he would be frustrated with Chuck for.

“There you go. Kick a man when he’s down.”

“Jimmy, you are always down.”

Ouch. This might be the most uncomfortable scene in the history of the show. Led by a chaotic and senselessly frustrated performance by Bob Odenkirk, this scene reaches unbecoming heights of discomfort when a fairly supportive Kim Wexler has to drop down to Jimmy’s level for just a moment. It is a soul-crushing scene that, to me, felt a bit like a gut-punch. Seehorn and Odenkirk do amazing work in this devastating scene from the season’s best episode thus far.

A+

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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