AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 4, Episode 6: “Piñata”
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Written by Gennifer Hutchison
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Quite a Ride” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Something Stupid” – click here
We get a look at Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) when he was a mail room worker. He was doing an “Oscar pool.” Judging by a mention of Howard’s End, this would’ve been in 1993, a year after it was released and the Academy Awards were about to air. A nice leap backwards to see Jimmy in a different era. Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) was also working her way up, starting at the bottom handing out mail and going to law school, too. Big Chuck (Michael McKean) was king of the castle, before his mental health deteriorated.
Jimmy’s always been the same guy, just in different shapes and forms. Neither did his brother treat him too great, more like a kid. Probably unfair to say Jimmy wasn’t aiming high— he was never aiming high the same as others. What’s worse is his brother’s treatment drove him, out of spite, to become a lawyer, which is never a good reason to do anything.
In current day, Kim’s drowning in Mesa Verde work. She’s worked her way up to the top, now she has to keep working in order to stay there. No trouble for her, considering she’s a talented lawyer. Yet she’s bored by the corporate side of law, she yearns to be back in the trenches fighting for people.
Funny how she and Jimmy diverge so starkly in intent. She actually wants to help people, whereas he’s usually only ever thinking about himself and getting over on people. This difference is the biggest reason why, when it happens, the fallout between these two will be horrible. You know it’s coming. Breaking Bad never had a Kim Wexler, and there’s a reason behind that we’ll see someday in Better Call Saul. Things are already getting shitty, considering Jimmy’s lying to her constantly, as well as the fact he won’t go see a doctor like she suggested. Neither’s going to improve their relationship.
At another firm, Kim goes to speak with Rick Schweikart (Dennis Boutsikaris). She starts asking about a “banking division,” which his firm doesn’t have currently. She asks if he’d like to have one, suggesting she’s looking to strike out more on her own once again.
Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) are checking out hospitality for the upcoming build. They’ve got the German engineer and a crew coming. There’s a custom built set of small houses in a warehouse. Construction will take anywhere between 6-10 months. Mike makes clear they’ve got to keep everyone happy, considering it’s such a long time in total secrecy. He suggests more security, as well, though inconspicuous. A massive operation we knew of before. We’re now seeing the scale, which is an excellent way for the series to work backwards, filling in all the imagination gaps.
Rather than stay focused on the present, Jimmy keeps living in the future. He’s dreaming up the new law firm he hopes to start with Kim after his parole clears up. At work, he gets a call from the nephew of Mrs. Strauss, one of Jimmy’s old clients. There are things involved with the estate and will needing to be clued up. At home, he sits in melancholy watching the commercial they shot to get clients at Sand Piper.
At dinner, Jimmy and Kim talk. She mentions being offered a job by Schweikart, to build the banking divison. This would make her a partner. He tries staying positive, unsure if she’s going to stick with him. Kim tells him Wexler-McGill won’t go as planned if she takes the offer, having associates to look after Mesa Verde while she takes on cases which matter to her. It’s great for her, but for him it’s like yet another blow to his mismanaged life. Nevertheless, he encourages her: “I say do it.”
Mike visits his daughter-in-law Stacey (Kerry Condon) to apologise for his behaviour at their group. She won’t hold it against him, but the rest of the group’s not going to take him back so easy. Stacey mainly wants him to know she’ll never actually forget her husband, no matter if he fades from her memory, and Mike understands she can’t wear “a hair shirt” forever, punishing herself in the memory of a dead man.
At HHM, Jimmy picks up his $5K from Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), also discovering the firm’s going through hard times. This sort of pisses Jimmy off. Jimmy tells Howard he’s a “shitty lawyer” but a “great salesman,” serving to light a tiny fire under the latter. When Jimmy leaves, he’s back on his cellphone game loading a bunch of phones into the back of the nail salon where he continues keeping his old office. There’s definitely a new scam rearing its head.
In hospital, Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) sits hooked to machines. He’s got a bad fever, too. Gus sits in the dark recounting a childhood memory to his nemesis. The chicken man’s waiting to watch the man die, though we know old Tio makes it to Breaking Bad. These scenes add further weight to the encounters we’ve seen. Ironic to contrast this scene with the scenes in the care home where Tio ends up during Season 4 of Breaking Bad, especially how their relationship ends in a horrific explosion.
At the warehouse, the engineer and his crew arrive. Mike’s there to lay down the rules. He lets everybody know about communication and security. One of the crew members is a bit of a dick, not treating things too seriously. You can see this doesn’t impress Mike, who’s going to have a problem if these guys don’t stay in line.
On the street, Jimmy confronts the guys who beat him up and stole his stash. He says he wants to “make a deal.” He wants to come to an agreement so they won’t steal from him anymore. He offers a hundred bucks every time he’s out there, though these are young dudes with no conception of anything sensible. They’d rather rob him again. So, he makes a run for it and they come chasing, knife in hand. He runs into a dead end, where he’s led them purposely.
The three young punks wake tied upside down. They’re in a warehouse full of piñatas. Someone with a baseball bat starts smashing them, threatening. Jimmy pretends like they’re about to get killed, as Huell (Lavell Crawford) smashes more piñatas. This solves McGill’s troubles on the street for good. It’s also a sign of things to come.
An excellent chapter in this series. We’re always getting more character development and backstory being filled in, combined with the fantastic pacing, and it makes each episode a joy to watch. “Something Stupid” is next time.