Published on March 19th, 2015 | by Michael


Better Call Saul – Bingo – Review

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If there’s one thing I can take away from ‘Bingo’ it is this – I want Chris Joss to soundtrack my life. His jazz funk epic ‘Tune Down’ plays, apparently on an infinity loop, as Mike Ehrmantraut investigates the Kettleman house in this episode’s central set piece. I now like to believe that it is the song Mike always hears when he’s performing his badass fixer shtick. I said at the conclusion of my ‘Five-O’ review that I hoped Jimmy would sick Mike on the Kettlemans and ‘Bingo’ did not disappoint.

To see how Mike ended up working for Jimmy though we must drag our attention back to the opening scene. After the conclusion of ‘Five-O’, Philly’s finest have discovered the theft of the notebook. Young firebrand Det. Abbasi (Omid Atahi) wants to drag Mike back to Philadelphia to face justice. ‘I’m confused; the state of Pennsylvania can extradite people for returning lost property? That’s some bold legislature’ cries Jimmy in full obnoxious sarcasm mode. Thankfully for Mike, the wiser head Det. Sanders (Barry Shabaka Henley, who has a look of Droopy about him)) prevails and assures Mike the investigation won’t be going any further, at least for now. Jimmy had been dismissed for the end of this conversation and demands to know what the two talked about, however Mike is not forthcoming, merely asking Jimmy to bill him.

Meanwhile, over at the law offices of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill… The lovely Kim Wexler is in trouble with her bosses. Not because of any mistake on her part but because the Kettlemans are batshit insane. She has someone wrangled a deal whereby Craig Kettleman will only serve 16 months in County Jail if he pleads guilty and returns the money. A more than fair deal, I’m sure you’d agree. Not the Kettlemans however. ‘A deal is what they got OJ’ spits Betsy Kettleman before the pair storm out of the offices in a huff, having fired Kim as their lawyer. As a result, Kim is shunted to the East Wing, or ‘Cornfield’ as it is known by junior employees. Kim had already had her head turned earlier in the episode when Jimmy invites her along to see the office space he hopes to rent, complete with gorgeous corner office ‘for my partner’. At the time Kim turned Jimmy down, saying she was close to being made partner at HH&M. After the Kettleman debacle though she admits ‘my two year plan just became a ten year plan’.

Better Call Saul Bingo 2

Hardly a Strip Mall

Kim’s loss would appear to be Jimmy’s gain. He’s spent much of the series angling to be the Kettleman’s lawyer and sure enough he is interrupted from his stint as a Bingo caller by a phone call, which is a shame because I wanted to hear more about Irene’s cats. Summoned to a diner, Jimmy sits down with the Kettlemans to discuss their legal defence, which is tricky because there isn’t one. Julie Ann Emery as Betsy has been the standout of this series so far. The kind of villain who makes your skin crawl but at the same types lights up the screen when she appears. Her combination tangled logic, utter denial and devious scheming is a thing of beauty. Betsy manages to ensnare Jimmy, reminding him that he too has some of the city’s money in the form of the bribe/retainer he was offered in Nacho. Jeremy Shamos as Craig is almost as good, pitching the character somewhere between hen-pecked and clueless. His attempts to interject into the conversation between Betsy and Jimmy are painful.

‘Including the £30,000…’

‘He gets it, Craig.’

This meeting of minds is sadly curtailed by another phone call to Jimmy from a worried Kim. She needs Jimmy to return the Kettlemans to her, to save her career and to save Craig from decades in prison. It is interesting that Kim assumes Jimmy will do this without his asking for anything in return. After all, Jimmy gets precisely nothing from this arrangement. It is even more interesting that Jimmy complies without hesitation. It’s how he goes about it that Saul Goodman shows through.

The two plot strands weave elegantly together for the aforementioned incursion into the Kettleman house. Mike plants a sprayed wad of cash – part of Jimmy’s ‘retainer’ -in a toy outside and waits for Craig to find it and bring it inside. Five apples later, after the Kettlemans have turned in, Mike and his block light investigate by following the finger prints to the Kettleman’s hidey hole, underneath the bathroom sink. Mike steals the money, resists the temptation to abscond and returns it to Jimmy, who adds in the remainder of his retainer and goes off to confront the Kettlemans.

Better Call Saul Bingo 3

Tweedle Dum & Even Tweedler Dum

Now I’m no legal expert, but I’d have thought that handing in your client’s smoking gun to the authorities is not great practice, strictly speaking, yet that is what Jimmy does. Not only has he handed in key evidence without his client’s consent, but his associate actually stole it from their house! He drops the bombshell on the Kettlemans that not only has he taken their money, but he has also handed it in to the DA, finally forcing Betsy to admit that, at the very least, said money does exist. Though threatened with his own taking of a bribe, Jimmy finally convinces the clueless pair to go back to Kim and take her deal. Kim, to her credit, remembers to mouth ‘Thank you’ to Jimmy as she rides the company lift up to the top floor and back into her bosses’ good graces, whereupon Jimmy goes to what would have been his new offices and weeps his cynical little heart out.

And what of Chuck this episode? Well, it seems that he’s not about to let his condition beat him, psychosomatic or not. Upon returning home, Jimmy finds his older brother stood outside in the open, counting to 120 before rushing inside. He hopes to be able to make it to five minutes by the following week. In a reversal of their relationship of old, Jimmy expresses his genuine pride in Chuck’s modest achievement, just as Chuck presumably did when Jimmy went a week without scamming someone or being arrested. Things are on a more normal footing with the arrival of some files from Jimmy’s office. Jimmy makes a basic mistake about what the paperwork is for, he thinks he needs to complete some 413s, Chuck reminds him they are 513s. Whether Jimmy is deliberately tempting Chuck into looking at the files or if Chuck is going to look at them and find Jimmy is pulling another fast one is unclear.

One further question remains. Where on earth is Nacho? He’s disappeared since Jimmy secured his release. No surprise there, you might think, but Michael Mando’s name is still listed among the starring cast. Here’s hoping he returns soon to go all Vaas on someone’s arse. At the end of ‘Bingo’ Jimmy gets a phone call, snapping him out of his distraught state long enough for him to affect his lilting receptionist voice. Maybe Nacho needs his help again. There’s a strong theory that in Breaking Bad Walt is never truly Walt after the events of ‘Crawlspace’, he is only ever Heisenberg pretending to be Walt. ‘Bingo’ could be Jimmy’s ‘Crawlspace’. From the kicking he’s taken in recent weeks, we might see Jimmy slip away to be replaced by the loud shirts of Saul Goodman.

*Special thanks to Vivienne Claire who provided legal expertise for this review*

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