Published on April 1st, 2015 | by Michael


Better Call Saul – Pimento – Review

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Fuck Chuck. Fuck him right in the ear. That’s the take home message from Pimento. As superb as this episode is, it doesn’t tell us much we didn’t know about the characters beforehand. Jimmy is young, bright and desperate. Mike can handle himself. Howard is a knob (although…). Kim is lovely. Chuck though, Chuck surprised me. After Pimento, his relationship with both Jimmy and the audience seems irrevocably severed.

The episode had started so promisingly for the Brothers McGill, too. After last week’s revelation, Chuck and Jimmy are spending some quality time outside enjoying the glorious New Mexico sunshine. Jimmy has even kicked his shoes off, allowing the grass to caress his bare skin. Make the most of it Jimmy, because this episode is going to dump on you from here on in. Indeed the title sequence sets a much better precedent for the forthcoming events, a book of Saul Goodman matches being washed down a drain. That said, Jimmy earns a welcome early victory in Pimento, a Judge throwing out an utterly ludicrous restraining order against him, designed to stop him contacting his Sandpiper clients. Cock-a-hoop with his success, Jimmy is brought back down to Earth by his brother who tells him that it was a gambit that was always going to fail, merely the first in many attempts to deflect and distract the crusadin’ Mcgills as they try to bring justice to the elderly. With this is mind, Chuck makes an unappetising but pragmatic suggestion to Jimmy: take the case to HH&M and get their help bring the class action suit to trial. Jimmy, though full of fire and ready to take on the world, eventually concedes they might need the extra assistance.

Thanks to some ingenious seaming from Jimmy (how hot must that space blanket suit jacket have been), Chuck is able to return to HH&M, to rapturous applause from all the staff. ‘I couldn’t have stopped them if I wanted to’ remarks a grinning Howard. Chuck is not the only one to receive a warm welcome though. Howard is full of glowing praise for the case the McGills have brought to him and offers Jimmy very generous terms – 20% of the final fee, plus $20K for his work on the case so far. The coyote has already run off the edge of the cliff at this point though, he’s just yet to look down. Jimmy asks a presumptive question about his new office, leading to an awkward atmosphere.. After dismissing everyone but the McGills, Howard drops the bombshell – thanks for the case Jimmy, now sod off. Harsh words are exchanged, accusations of fiddling livestock are made and the upshot is that Jimmy takes his case back, drowning in paperwork or no.

Making an equally favourable impression on potential new colleagues is everyone’s favourite shaved bear, Mike. The vet has found him some work, requiring him to protect a wannabe drug pusher. The problem is not with the client though, but with the other men assigned to the same job. Meeting in a car park (the car park where Walt tried to blow up Gus, perhaps?), Mike is met by a Man Mountain – how he’s credited, honest – and a man who is just trying too hard. ‘What are you carrying?’ he asks Mike. ‘A pimento sandwich’, comes the answer. ‘They call it the caviar of the South’. As well as being a blowhard and a bully, this guy also proves to be a snitch. When the client, ‘Pryce’, arrives, he suggests that he and Man Mountain do the job and cut Mike out, because he hasn’t got a gun. Mike says that if he needs to use a gun, he’ll just use the snitch’s. Things go from there about as you’d expect.

Better Call Saul Pimento 3

Guess which one of these is credited as Man Mountain

Now doing the work of three men, Mike steers the very green drug seller through a deal with…Nacho! Or Ignacio Vargas to his Mother (and Mike). Michael Mando makes the most of his limited screen time with another masterclass in understated menace. We can only wonder what type of games he was playing with the $20 shortfall in the drug money. Testing the waters or an honest mistake? As it is, the deal goes without a hitch. Mike suspected it would – Nacho is doing this off his own bat and the last thing he wants is Tuco getting word of it. Mike offers his client some advice – do your homework – and expounds his philosophy about the nature of law and order. You can be a cop or a criminal, but that’s not what dictates whether you’re a good person of that. Above all else, if you make a deal, you keep your end of it. Mike wasn’t a complete enigma in Breaking Bad of course but it’s nice to get these little glimpses into his inner workings. It can be hard to reconcile Mike’s tendency towards honesty and decency with the fact that he was the fixer for a ruthless drug lord (or two).

Mike’s story does not directly intersect with Jimmy’s at all this episode (although he and Nacho are both his clients, of course). What it does provide is a nice change of pace, a vignette woven into the middle of an episode about something different. It also harkens back to the parent show – nothing screams Breaking Bad like a drug deal in the sand.

Back in the offices of HH&M, Kim goes in to bat for Jimmy, tearing strips out her boss Howard, in her reserved, Kim like way of course. I feel the significance of this scene may actually increase as things are revealed later on. At first, it goes as expected – Howard thinks Kim can keep her opinions to herself, frankly. But as she turns to leave, duly chastened, Howard seems to have a change of heart and calls her back. Now why could that be?

Better Call Saul Pimento 2

And why, for that matter, is Jimmy’s phone dead? He’s sure he turned it off when he dumped it in Chuck’s mailbox. The reason, of course is that Chuck used it to phone Howard. He told Howard then what he told him years ago, as must have happened in RICO – ‘don’t give Jimmy a job as a lawyer’. This revelation casts two people in a new light. Chuck considers Jimmy a joke. Not a real lawyer. Most damningly of all he utters the utterly crushing phrase ‘you’ll always be Slippin’ Jimmy’. Chuck’s ambivalence about Jimmy’s attempts to become a lawyer was beautifully portrayed by Michael McKean’s nuanced performance last week but his full heel turn here still comes as a devastating blow. As well as keeping his brother down, Chuck has also made Howard his stooge all these years. Howard and Jimmy may well dislike each other anyway but forcing Howard to do all his dirty work might be Chuck’s slimiest move yet. Howard is clearly OK with Jimmy thinking he’s a douchebag (‘He has reached a level of douchbaggery that will live on for generations, passed down by windtalkers and the like’ Jimmy opines) but having Kim think the same of him is too bitter a pill to swallow. It’s obvious from the way Kim tries to persuade Jimmy to take the deal that Howard has come clean with her.

Fuck Chuck.

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