AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 4, Episode 10: “Winner”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Peter Gould & Thomas Schnauz
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Wiedersehen” – click here
* Season 5 to come next year!
We see Chuck (Michael McKean) years ago vouching for Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) before representatives of the bar. Afterwards, Jimmy and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) go out to celebrate. He wants her to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” at karaoke with him, though she’s reluctant. Chuck “never has any fun” but came to support his brother. Jimmy rushes to him before he leaves, convincing him to stay while he sings “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA. He gets onstage and croons for the crowd. He urges Chuck to get up with him, and finally big brother does. A bittersweet moment, as the two were together, but now, as we’ve seen, have fallen so far apart Jimmy ultimately helped lead his brother to suicide. But we also see Chuck take the microphone, leaving little brother in his shadow— a shadow Jimmy could never, and will never, be able to live up to, no matter how hard he tries.
Chuck takes his very drunk brother home and puts him to bed. They sleep next to one another, singing more ABBA. The lyrics are symbolic of their relationship. Only one of them stands tall now while the other’s dead and gone. Jimmy’s not really standing tall, he’s sinking lower every day.
Mike (Jonathan Banks) is dealing with Werner (Rainer Bock) escaping. He’s got the crew together and they’re going to try tracking him, lest things get any worse. Werner has no passport so he can’t go to the airport. Shouldn’t be TOO hard to find. Mike figures out where the wife’s been wiring money to her husband. At Travel Wire, Mike discovers Werner got a cab onto another destination after conning an employee into letting him watch security footage.
The following scene is THE BEST INDICATOR of how awful Jimmy is and how his whole identity itself is an act: he uses one of the old actor tricks of mumbling words like “watermelon, pickles” and counting “one one thousand” (etc) to make it appear to onlookers like he’s talking at his brother’s grave. Nasty moment. Despite all they went through as brothers, Jimmy can’t muster the emotion to be sincere about Chuck, even after his death. He’s doing this as a ruse, all day, in hopes the right people will see his public display of mourning.
In the desert, Lalo (Tony Dalton) keeps an eye on Los Pollos Hermanos and Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), scoping out the trucks trafficking product from the facility. Meanwhile, Gus is concerned about the German engineer running loose in Albuquerque. Mike believes Werner isn’t lying, that he’s desperate to see his wife. The big boss man says the wife is flying in from Germany. Sinister plans are underway. Mike wants to fix things another way and also get the lab job finished. But can he? He takes it as his personal responsibility to try, anyway. Simultaneously, Lalo has eyes on him, too.
“I won’t lie— it’s been a tough year.”
The Charles L. McGill Reading Room is open. Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) didn’t pay for it, as many assume. One of the servers passes around word Jimmy paid for it himself. Kim pushes the narrative to her boss Schweikart (Dennis Boutsikaris). All a long game to make Jimmy appear like the loving brother everyone expects him to be, rather than “insincere.” He did pay for everything. Not because he wanted to, only to make the act feel as if it’s real.
Mike realises he’s being followed. He pulls into a parking lot, chewing on a big wad of gum as Lalo arrives. He flattens his gum between two wrappers. He speeds out in front of somebody. Before Lalo can get out, Mike uses the foil and gum to jam the gate’s reader, giving him time to get away. This sends Lalo to Travel Wire, harassing the same poor employee to see security footage of Mike and what he was looking to find. Now Lalo is starting to get a picture of what Gus is doing, which will lead him to see how the chicken man is trying to shut out the cartel. Shit.
Jimmy and others are part of the scholarship from HHM, along with Howard. They hear lots of kids tell their stories. Jimmy’s the only one who voted for “the shoplifter” out of the group. He sees part of himself in her. The girl fought her way back from her mistakes. This forces a second vote, yet changes nothing. Jimmy confronts the girl with the reality of all the law world’s bullshit. He’s not helping, only warping her with bitterness. Vicariously through this young lady Jimmy sees himself shut out of a world from which he’ll always be excluded. At home, Kim works on his behalf, and he’s starting to feel it’s a waste of time. Unless he can further manipulate Chuck post-death into vouching for him, as he did once before.
Mike finds Werner at a resort, on the phone with Lalo sussing out info. He takes the engineer elsewhere, then calls Gus, who’s intent on fixing things like he always does. This forces Mike to tell his boss: “I‘ll take care of it.” Mike figures if the engineer goes, best he goes at the end of his gun. Werner doesn’t realise the seriousness of what he’s done to some bad, bad people. He pleads with his friend once aware of the severity of the situation. Mike orders him to call his wife and send her back home before anything bad happens. The engineer does, then he faces the fact he’s about to die. Like a moment from a tragic Western.
We see Gus takes Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) to see the location of the new lab, where the excavation remains unfinished. This excites the chemist, itching to get cooking for his longtime friend. Fring’s not happy right now, his mind stuck on recent events and the setback they’ll cause. He and Mike are a bit divided considering how things went.
Jimmy is back to appeal his case. He gives a “prepared statement” which is a letter from his brother Chuck. He starts reading, then stops. He feels the letter is private, for the two of them. He talks about Chuck’s love for him as a brother but not as a lawyer. Jimmy tells them about his admiration for Chuck and the lifelong struggle to try and “make him proud.” He’s also very frank about him, in a sweet way. Even though it’s the truth, isn’t it still an act? Jimmy has no intention on being “worthy of the name McGill,” he only wants to make the quickest buck possible. Once it’s over, he reveals the depths of his insincerity to Kim, after she was crying over his performance. She sees him emerging fully as the incarnation of everything that’s wrong with him, the man he always was, and the final nail in the coffin is his smile, telling her: “S‘all good, man.”
He’s entering the last stage of his transformation into Saul Goodman, preparing to legally practise under this new name, he’s over the tipping point. I wonder how Kim will move forward after this and how it will affect Jimmy? So much to look forward to for Season 5. Can’t wait! Season 4 was the best yet, in what’s already been a truly amazing series.