Published on March 30th, 2016 | by Michael0
Better Call Saul – Bali Ha’i
After a pre-credit sequence showing Jimmy’s increasing tedium at home (soundtracked by the song ‘Sleep Walk’, fittingly enough), ‘Bali Ha’i’ begins with Jimmy crooning the Rodgers and Hammerstein Show Tune into Kim’s answering machine in an attempt to charm his way out of the dog house, and damn if it doesn’t pretty much work. Rhea Seehorn’s face is a picture as Kim can’t quite hold back the laughter, giving us a real glimpse of why she sticks with this clown. And Bob Odenkirk reminds why it was always funny when he broke into song on Mr Show, and why he was always unfavourably compared to David Cross in that regard. Though not appearing on screen, Bob Odenkirk nails the notes of the character just as surely as he misses those of the song. Sure, he’s a huckster, a chancer and frequently a buffoon but he’s also sweet and where Kim is concerned, sincere.
Providing a great contrast to both Jimmy’s sincerity, and Kim’s struggle to keep the smile off her face, is the still fuming Howard. Kim may have been raised up out of Doc review Hell by the magnanimous hand of Chuck but Howard is still giving her the coldest of shoulders. Patrick Fabian produces perhaps his best character moment yet as the pair march down towards the meeting room, with the camera tight to Fabian’s face. He holds he scowl with beautiful control before letter a wide grin take its place – just in time to greet the clients. Howard may be unable to let go of his anger but he’s brilliant at keeping his emotions in check – a prerequisite when you need to constantly take the flack for Chuck’s skulduggery, I guess. Kim doesn’t have to go far to find a lawyer far more sympathetic to here, though. Having been left to fight an unwinnable battle in front of a judge, she is taken to dinner by her opposite number at rival firm Schweikart & Cokely. Rich Schweikart tells Kim he is very impressed with how she handled herself with grace under fire and offers to poach her away from HHM, although not for the purposes of winning the Sandpiper case, of course. He orders a Moscow Mule, in the middle of the day, as if to demonstrate how different he is from Chuck and Howard, and draws her in with a story of how he too was abandoned to his fate by a more senior lawyer, and how it wasn’t long before he and that law firm parted ways. The message is simple – they do things differently at Schweikart & Cokely. As if to cement the contrast, in the offices of HHM, an underling comes into Kim’s office, offering to get her lunch from that ‘fancy new salad place’ that finance just approved. A far cry from a Moscow Mule at noon.
Despite getting his big number at the top of the show, Jimmy actually hangs back for the most part in ‘Bali Ha’i’. His biggest moment if when he takes a wrench to that damn cup holder so he can fit his ‘World’s Second Best Lawyer’ mug in. Near everything he does this episode shows his increasing frustration, from his improvised ball games with the ornaments in his apartment to his taking a wrench to the company car. The very fact that the objects his abuses were given to him by Davis & Main clearly demonstrates the source of his frustration.
Mike’s story comes on in leaps and bounds this week as the Breaking Bad cameos continue to tumble in. Hector Salamanca, as we knew he would, has refused to take no for an answer with regards Tuco’s gun charge. There are a couple of attempts to intimidate Mike, which he breezes through with his usual class. First, a thug sits on Mike’s porch, hoping his mere presence will change Mike’s mind. No such look. Soon they escalate to home invasion but it’s nigh-impossible to get the drop on Mike. Walter managed it once, but then as Jesse noted, Walter always did have the devil’s own luck. The two men Hector sends are not in Walter’s class and are undone by the carbon paper under Mike’s newly bought welcome mat, which tips him off to their presence. A swift bash to the bonce with his gun sends the pair of clowns packing. But then Hector reaches deep into his bag of tricks and calls upon men who cause even Mike pause. Kudos to Better Call Saul for keeping the presence of Luis and Daniel Moncada under wraps by having them credited at the end of the episode, rather than the beginning, thus making their appearance on the rooftop looking down on Mike and his granddaughter all the more dramatic. Even Mike is scared enough into going back to Hector, but he still have cojones enough to negotiate $50,000 when Hector had taken even the original offer of $5,000 off the table. Mike has earned Hector’s respect, but at what cost to his future happiness?
‘Bali Ha’i’ offers one of the few great insights into the events of Breaking Bad because it cast new light on the death of Leonel Salamanca. The cousin, left crippled after his attack on Hank Schrader, was offed by Mike in a clean and clinical manner, made to look like a cardiac arrest. Mike acted on Gus Fring’s orders, but he was unlikely to forget the implied threat the cousins made on Kaylee that day years earlier. Mike finally got a measure of revenge, years before we knew there was anything to avenge.
Kim and Jimmy also flirt with the outlaw lifestyle this week, after Kim spots another mark in a bar. They break out the old Giselle and Viktor routine, drawing the poor schmuck into investing in their new company. Of course, Kim is content with merely keeping the cheque as a souvenir rather than cashing it, relishing the fun of it all while sticking to her own moral compass. Like Jimmy, she enjoys the games, but unlike him she knows when to stop playing.