REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Bali Ha’i”

Better Call Saul - Reviewed

The following is a review of the sixth episode of the second season of Better Call Saul, available on AMC in the U.S. and on Netflix in Europe. Expect story spoilers. 

In the sixteenth episode of Better Call Saul (“Bali Ha’i”), Jimmy struggles with the disappointing life of a babysat attorney, Mike considers Hector Salamanca’s offer, and Kim steals the show, leaving me to question when Better Call Saul last had an episode that actually focused on its titular character. 

Bali Ha’i was another solid episode of one of the best shows on television right now. Strangely, though, it didn’t feature Jimmy McGill (played by Bob Odenkirk) that much. I’m not saying I counted how many scenes he was in, but it sure felt like he was playing second fiddle for the third episode in a row.

This season has been really great, so far. But one thing that I can’t stop wondering is if Jimmy McGill is even the main character of Better Call Saul right now. Kim (played by Rhea Seehorn) and Mike (played by Jonathan Banks) were the stars of Bali Ha’i, and that isn’t something new. One or both of them were the stars of Rebecca and Gloves Off – the last two episodes.

They aren’t hurting the show in any stretch of the imagination, but I’ll admit that there are times that I question if Better Call Saul is a show about Jimmy McGill, or Albuquerque pre-Breaking Bad. But for right now, I like what the show is doing – even if it is sidelining my favorite character on television right now. This next thing isn’t supposed to be taken as criticism, per se, but I’m beginning to be worried about how much this show relies on references.

Don’t get me wrong. I love easter eggs and nods to the fans as much as the next person, but I fear that the show is trying too hard to remind us that Breaking Bad is coming. This season we’ve seen ‘Ken Wins’, Tuco (again), Krazy-8, Hector Salamanca, and now, in this episode, ‘the Cousins’ – and they are just the noticeable guest appearances.

This isn’t so much me saying that the show shouldn’t have easter eggs, guest appearances, or Breaking Bad-references. I’m just afraid that the writers will lose sight of what this show was so good at last season. Better Call Saul is a prequel to Breaking Bad, but it shouldn’t rely on Breaking Bad. But again, this isn’t so much a criticism, as it is me worrying about the future of the show.

Rhea Seehorn has had an amazing season, so far. Her character ‘Kim’ wasn’t the most noticeable character last season, but she sure got an upgrade when they were preparing season two. She isn’t just a love interest, and that’s great. She is as important as Chuck (played by Michael McKean) is to the show right now. Actually, she might even be more important than him – but only time will tell if that will stay the same or not.

The episode presented her with an offer that viewers shouldn’t want her to refuse, and I think that is the way to go with her character. I suspect that if she takes the job, Hamlin and Chuck will be left very upset. But at this point Hamlin (played by Patrick Fabian) definitely deserves to lose her.

At some point, Jonathan Banks has to win an Emmy for what he has been doing in the Vince Gilligan-universe. This episode was another example of his character being incredibly smart. The whole ‘Welcome-mat’ idea was brilliant, and when Mike was searching through his house for intruders, you just knew he was going to find and outsmart any and all opponents.

Of course, some scenarios are unwinnable – as Schweikart (played by Dennis Boutsikaris) reminds Kim – and it goes for Mike as well. Mike’s family will be hunted down, if he doesn’t respond to Salamanca’s threats.

Square peg in a round hole – While Jimmy didn’t get a lot of screen-time this episode, he did get to function as quite the metaphor. For weeks now, we’ve seen Jimmy trying to get his coffee cup holder to fit his coffee cup (‘World’s 2nd Best Lawyer’) that he got from Kim.

In Bali Ha’i, Jimmy finally lost it – he angrily attacked at the cup holder, and made the round hole into a square one to fit his cup. Jimmy couldn’t fit the square peg in a round hole, as it were. He has been trying to fit into society and the workplace. But this is it. Now he seems willing to make society, and the workplace, work to fit him. Maybe I’m reading into this a bit too much, but it seems to me that Saul Goodman may be closer than we thought.

A-

– I’m Jeffrey Rex