‘Better Call Saul’: HE IS RISEN
Season Three, Episode Six — “Off Brand”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. HE IS RISEN. Don’t think for a moment that a twelve-month suspension is going to stand in Jimmy McGill’s way. In fact, he doesn’t even have time to wait around for 2 hours and 45 minutes if it means squandering a pre-paid TV slot.
This is why the creature we encountered emerging from the ashes is still so half-formed and hastily assembled – Jimmy McGill has initiated his forward roll, snowballing layers onto the Saul Goodman moiré along the way.
I’ve actually grown to like the fact that this show took two and a half seasons to out its titular character, and fair play to it for making it so awkward and true to form. Jimmy’s transformation into Saul was on the fly, and still for the sake of Kim, born of desperation to make his 50% of the rent. Jimmy can’t practice law, but he can make a commercial to advertise making commercials, which is just about the most Saul sort of activity one could muster.
Jimmy’s been thrown lemons, and instead of just making lemonade, he’s going to squeeze all he can out of the fruit before gluing the two halves back together and selling them to you at a high markup, never doubting for a moment that you’ll buy it. Because you will.
If you are one to lament the omission of certain characters from certain episodes (as I’ve certainly been guilty of here), “Off Brand” is an adequate object lesson on why it’s best not to cram the entire ensemble in at once. We got a glimpse of almost everyone last night, but to what end? Mike accompanied Stacey to her meeting, but the only real take home message in that circle was a brief appearance by Law & Order SVU’s lovely Tamara Tunie.
We also saw more of Gus and Hector, as they up the stake on their feud, but the most interesting stretch of backstory belonged to Nacho.
In a scene drenched in warm, comforting light, we watched Nacho working in his father’s upholstery shop. He moved a piece of leather forward, letting his preoccupied mind push his flesh into the needle’s path. A vulnerable yet nerveless portion of his hand falls prey to a puncture wound, symbolizing the potential dangers of unchecked forward motion. Oh, Nacho. You might want to start thinking about your future lawyering needs.
“Where are your notes? Let’s spread em out, roll around on them and see what happens.” – Jimmy
“To new beginnings.” – Chuck
“I don’t owe him squat.” – Jimmy… how ‘bout a squat cobbler?
“He’s mentally ill; what’s your excuse?” – Rebecca to Jimmy.
“Quick – crack open your magic bag. We’ll have to Karloff this thing.” – Jimmy.
BEST MOMENT: As always, Better Call Saul is steeped in excellent cinematography, but the moment I found most arresting this week was the scene in which Howard and Chuck share a drink. Both of their faces were half cloaked in shadow, reminding us that they’re the only ones truly oblivious to their dark sides, even as they toast “new beginnings.” Despite Howard’s pep talk, it’s clear neither of them actually give a rat’s ass about the other’s plight. Their motivations lie entirely within their own self-preservation.
EPISODE’S MVP: I know it’s the big reveal and all, but I was more intrigued by Michael McKean’s strung-out space Babushka act than seeing the mustachioed and vested Saul. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that Chuck’s character is probably on his way out that makes us cling to such a horrible person, or maybe it’s just that Michael McKean is so damn good at his job. Either way, from the moment we see him melting into the shadows as Rebecca bangs on the door to his sad rendezvous with a D-cell battery, Chuck stole the show.
– Are we going to see more of Tamara Tunie?
– Howard is such a little shit. Comparing himself and Chuck to Clarence Darrow? REALLY?
– Aww, Krazy 8 is so wide-eyed, innocent and chatty before Nacho beats the fear of God (aka Hector) into him.
– Hector scanning the sports page while Nacho knocks Krazy 8 around was great. Is violence all just sport to him?
– I really wish Kim would branch out from that single, pony tailed curl.
– Jimmy’s/Saul’s loyalty to Francesca is cute.
– Chuck ambling over pavements brought to mind The Soprano’s Uncle Jun’s escapades when he finally lost it.
– Kim’s reaction to the commercial was pretty great. A simple “Huh!” As in, “So that’s who you are…”
7 out of 10
Next: “Expenses”, in one week.
Before: ‘Chicanery”, here.