It goes without saying that there are spoilers in this review, so don’t end up looking like one of Slippin’ Jimmy’s marks.
If we saw Jimmy back to his old tricks last week, Fall finds him wading into much darker territory. But in true Saul style, it didn’t hinge on a drug deal or a shootout, but whether an old woman’s victory at bingo was warmly received by her fellow retirement community residents. And yet it had such power as McGill – acting more like Saul Goodman than ever – ostracised poor Irene Landry (Jean Effron) and drove her to agree to the class action settlement against the home. Credit the show with not allowing Jimmy to enjoy his success for long though; even here his actions have consequences.
Unfortunately for poor Kim, the stress she’s been feeling had its own fallout this episode. Initially appearing at the top of her game finding a way to stop oil man Billy Gatwood’s (Chris Mulkey) from having to pay high fees for his new resources, she experiences car trouble both as she’s trying to leave the oil field, and then, catastrophically when she’s distracted heading to the meeting with Gatwood and the rights holders. The car crash is a spectacularly shot scene, dropping out most of the sound and cutting between her driving and suddenly finding the airbag inflating in her face as, we soon discover, she’s gone off the road. Kim’s story this year has slowly been building to this point – working all hours, catching sleep when she can and rarely finding time to take of herself. It’s also likely to be yet another wedge driven between her and Jimmy in their personal and professional relationships. As usual, Rhea Seehorn is excellent portraying both Kim’s taciturn competence while pitching her plan and her flustered attempts to shoo a celebratory Jimmy away as she tries to prepare for her meeting. To say nothing of the shell shock after the crash. The slow pull out to show the car crunched against a rock at the side of the road, Kim’s perfectly organised papers spilling everywhere, is a beautiful portrayal of a traumatic moment.
Kim’s not the only one having a rough time of it, though Nacho and even Gus more have to deal with Hector Salamanca and his temper. Angered at the idea of Gus taking over the drug runs, he reaches for his pills, only for the fakes that Nacho has placed in his pocket to end up helping his health recover briefly. The frustration on Nacho’s face in particular is palpable, and if you were thinking that this would be the moment that we see how Hector becomes the silent, wheelchair-bound man we meet in Breaking Bad? As Jim Carrey says in Ace Ventura, “just wait longer!” And we can’t help but wonder whether Hector’s impatient flicking of his lighter is a call-forward to his use of a bell in the parent show.
Another great scene this week is Nacho confronting his father over Hector using his business as the next drug smuggling cover. The unspoken pain in the fractured father-son relationship is perfectly conveyed.
Chuck, meanwhile, reaches his own breaking point. Frustrated at the new problem with his insurance premiums and facing pressure from legal partner Howard to retire, he tries to convince everyone he’s still recovering, but when cornered by the change in status, he strikes, both at the insurance company and then his own business. This won’t end well for him, but Michael McKean once again finds the humanity amongst the venom.
And then there’s Mike, who has just a quick scene this week, but a pivotal one, as he starts working for Gus and visits Madrigal for the first time. It’s the initial meeting of Mr. Ehrmantraut and Laura Fraser’s Lydia Rodarte-Quayle! And you can tell just from the way Jonathan Banks’ face wrinkles that this is the kick-off to years of frustration for him.
As we dive towards next week’s season finale, Fall was a great counterpoint to Slip, bringing plot lines to a head and letting things develop where they needed. Jimmy’s truly on his darker path now, and the scheming version of the character is a really entertaining one, even as we’re sad to see him slide so far into doing whatever it takes to get by. It’s been a great season for the show so far – let’s hope the team sticks the landing.
Better Call Saul airs Mondays on AMC in the US and is appearing weekly on Tuesdays via Netflix in the UK.