‘Better Call Saul’: Careful with that axe, Nacho
Season Three, Episode Eight — “Slip”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. Jimmy’s living his best life, sprawled out flat on his back beneath an interstate overpass with a brand new wad of cash in his pocket.
In fact, he does a lot of work on his back in “Slip,” but one can’t exactly claim that he’s taking the easy way out. No, Jimmy and Saul aren’t lazy. They’re willing to absorb potentially serious injuries to bag a gig. Saul is going to have to tweak his approach to maintain success – he’s not as young as he was in the days of Slippin’ Jimmy, and there are only so many times you can flirt with spinal injury before sentencing yourself to a wheelchair.
Now that he’s wrangled Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar from the Sklar Brothers, he’s got time to mull these things over to the tune of “Smoke on the Water”.
The extent of Jimmy’s daddy issues come to light in the cold open flashback of Jimmy and Marco breaking into his old man’s shop. This scene is a jarring one for Jimmy fans: we knew he didn’t respect the soft touch with which his father ran the store, but Jimmy has remained a relatively sympathetic character up until now, as his motivations usually fall in the lighter end of the grey area. His conversations with Marco, however, bring to light the disgust he felt towards his father.
Jimmy’s inclinations to take on bullies has less to do with what Chuck called “noble reasons” and are more motivated by an abhorrence of weakness. He’s becoming The Roadrunner, a clever creature escaping danger by turning the predator/prey relationship on its axis. Keep your eyes to the sky for Acme anvils, Albuquerque.
Kim’s a little confused by Jimmy’s current state. She tells him she believes he’s capable of making his half of the rent, but she doesn’t hesitate too long before accepting the Gatwood account. She’s obviously feeling flush enough to throw the $14,815 of Howard’s loan back in his face, but working day and night on Mesa Verde won’t stop her from setting up a safety net. She’s feeling pretty strong and capable these days.
Her snappy speech to Howard about the proper allocation of blame exhibited a sort of confidence we haven’t seen from Kim before. Which is great, because she’s going to need some strong footing when Jimmy pulls the rug out from under her.
Meanwhile, Chuck is sharp enough to realize his condition is most likely in his head, but still delusional enough to entertain fantasies of getting back into the courtroom and hosting elegant dinner parties. With Howard hosting his own damage control repasts three meals a day, it’s highly unlikely that Chuck will see the inside of a courtroom anytime soon. However, he plods forward with Dr. Cruz (the always enjoyable Clea Duvall), making headway in fighting his mental illness with apparent sincerity. (It’s strange to watch Chuck work on something without an ulterior motive.)
Aside from Nacho’s palpitation-inducing moments with Hector (more on that below), this week’s most chilling sight was the closing handshake between Mike and Gus. Earlier in the episode, we watched Mike meticulously scan the desert to locate the “Good Samaritan’s” body and finally set that chapter of his life straight. With all this cash accumulating in his closet, however, he needs to find a way to launder the money to keep it safe for his family. Enter Gus.
While the terms were not laid out for us, we certainly know where this train is heading. Mike executes a slip down the moral ladder parallel to Jimmy’s – let’s see which circle of hell they land in first.
“Now he doesn’t know whether to shit or wind his watch.” – Kevin, to Kim.
“Howard, sit; I insist!” – Kim, to Howard.
“And, uh… lying on the floor helps you with your fingering…?” – Kim, regarding Jimmy’s guitar-fueled nonsense.
“Sorry, it’s just… my back hurts like hell and people suck.” – Jimmy.
BEST MOMENT: Nacho reaching into Don Hector’s jacket and replacing the pills was an absolutely heart-pounding scene. Tense doesn’t even begin to describe it. The stakes are as high as they could possibly get at this point – Nacho is gambling with his father’s life as well as his own. Every time a pill dropped or his hand trembled slightly I squirmed like mad in my seat. Good thing the restaurant’s A/C was broken so no one would think twice about all that nervous sweating.
EPISODE’S MVP: The two Michaels come out on top in “Slip,” and I’d be hard pressed to choose between Mando and McKean. Mando proved he could deliver a virtually wordless performance to rival Jonathan Banks, and McKean makes you really think twice about the people you encounter muttering to themselves in public spaces.
– Cheers to Francesca for doing what we’ve undoubtedly all done – steal a glimpse at a magazine while on the clock, then frantically hide the evidence as soon as the boss’ door pops open.
– Nacho works up to the pill exchange to the tune of Fink’s “Cold Feet”.
– “No, I don’t want to give my name; I was trespassing.” Mike sounded a little exasperated on the line with the police.
– “It concerns your malpractice insurance.” Ha.
– Bob Odenkirk always pulls a mad muppet face before his retaliations, like when the puppeteer balls his hand into a fist to make Kermit’s lips disappear.
9 out of 10
Next: “Fall”, in two weeks.
Before: “Expenses”, here.