I’ll admit that for someone who reviews TV for a living, I suck at guessing where a show is headed. My wife and I are currently working our way through The Americans and you can be guaranteed that every time I say, “Oh God, I know what’s going to happen,” that’s exactly what won’t happen. But, to be generous to both myself and the talented showrunners and writers behind The Americans and Better Call Saul, that could be more down to the superb unpredictability of these shows than my own dumb brain. After all, real life is rarely predictable and for all their extraordinary scenarios, part of what makes Better Call Saul and The Americans so compelling is that the characters’ reactions to those scenarios might not be what you anticipated, but they always feel genuine.
That’s particularly true of Kim this week. We’ve seen her take steps to recover her love of the law, trading her professional independence for the opportunity to take on more pro bono work and drag herself out from under the drudgery of being Mesa Verde’s sole legal counsel. But it’s not enough. Kim might be infinitely more sensible and practical than Jimmy, but that doesn’t mean there’s a limit and it certainly doesn’t mean she’s above the rush that comes from creatively bending the rules to get Huell out of jail time. After another Vince Gilligan masterpiece in information withholding, we discover that all the stationery supplies Kim bought at the end of last week’s episode were intended to create a fake letter-writing campaign on Huell’s behalf, petitioning the judge to set this “pillar of the community” free. The added touch of phone numbers and Jimmy’s army of burner phones was a beautiful one, especially as it gave us the wonder that was Jimmy’s impression of a Louisiana pastor. Odds of this coming back to bite him and Kim on the ass? Odds on, I’d say, but now that I’ve said it, it probably won’t happen.
Of all the poignant moments in the gradual parting of Kim and Jimmy, none was more of a dagger to the heart than Jimmy, alone in his nail salon office, being comforted by Mrs Nguyen and her bottle of strong Vietnamese liquor. Jimmy’s admission that it’s too late for dinner and flowers came as a bit of a shock. The cracks were there, but this was his first admission that he saw them as clearly as Kim does. The slight softening in Mrs Nguyen’s tone towards him is utterly devastating, and even the boost the relationships gets doesn’t convince me that this is any more than a stay of execution.
The same goes for Werner and Mike. Werner gets a little drunk on a team night out, chaperoned by Mike, and lets a little too much slip about the project to some friendly souls in a bar. Mike clearly has a connection with Werner and that clouds his judgement enough for him to let the contrite German away with a stern telling off. But I can’t help but feel that Mike will come to regret that moment of mercy. Gus isn’t a man prone to such things and I can’t help but imagine he’ll show Mike much understanding if Werner’s loose lips cause problems for his operation.
Speaking of operational problems, Nacho has run into one he didn’t need. Sleepwalking through his duties covering for Hector and waiting for his opportunity to take his father and run, Nacho has the air of the man in a deep, dark funk. So, the last thing he needs is another Salamanca: Lalo. He was mentioned once in Breaking Bad; when Jesse and Walt kidnap Saul, he thinks Lalo sent them. His whistling, grinning presence isn’t going to end well for anyone.