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Better Call Saul recap: Bali Ha'i

Jimmy, Kim, and Mike all face difficult decisions and fight losing battles

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Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

Better Call Saul

TV Show
Crime, Drama
Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould
Bob Odenkirk, Michael McKean
Current Status:
On Hiatus

Turn him to any cause of policy,

The Gordian Knot of it he will unloose,

Familiar as his garter

Henry V

Jimmy, Mike, and Kim are all on the losing ends of three long, arduous, not-dissimilar fights. Jimmy, depressed, lies sprawled in a bed that’s too big for just him, in a house intended for a lawyer with a family. His is a fight fought with pens and paper, with ink the color of bruises, the color of Mike’s face, of Kim’s dress and the basement walls that sheathe her.

Jimmy gets out of bed and shambles in blue boxers down the hall. He sits in front of the big boxy television, wearing its luminous glow as a comfort blanket. He scrolls through channels, past late-night commercials (“Ch-ch-ch-Chia!”) and American flags waving goodnight as channels sign off. He gets to a Davis & Main/Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill commercial, his commercial, mutilated into an emulation of the same bland thing he didn’t want to do. White text plastered onto an amorphous, bruise-colored background, a monotone voice droning monotonous words.

Anyone who’s ever had the artistry and passion expunged from their work can relate to Jimmy. There’s no worse feeling than having an inspired idea, something you really care about, and taking a risk to bring it to life, only to have your superiors (inferiors?) sap the life out of it. He’s putting the “aw” in “lawyer” right now.

He gets that big bowl of balls that comes with every lawyer’s house and starts throwing them around, going balls to the wall. The spiky orbs look like Ensō versions of Jesus’ thorny crown, bouncing down the stairs. The house is pervaded by existential banality, from the cartons of Chinese food assembled like packing crates in his fridge to the utter lack of clutter that would suggest life. It’s all corporate artifice — pre-arranged and curated to be seen but not used.

Jimmy returns to the spa, to the stifling confines of clutter that he used to call an office, a home. Sinking into the folding bed, a look of calm finally washes over him.

We’ve seen several possible moments that could be considered the inception of Saul Goodman — Chuck’s confession, “Smoke on the Water,” squat cobbling, meeting with the Sandpiper residents on the mini-bus in Texas — but really every episode since the pilot has been another brief glimpse of Saul’s three-decade-long embryonic phase. Jimmy has always been Saul the same way Mogwai are always gremlins just waiting to eat after midnight.

NEXT: Jimmy, Kim, and Mike get wake-up calls