Season Two, Episode Six — “Bali Ha’i”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. The quadruplet of skull-toed boots has made their frightening and dramatic return, as Hector brings in his top two thugs to force Mike’s shaky, bloodstained hand. Mike knows he’s in a little over his head, but remains careful, quick to adapt and nerve-rackingly slow to intimidate. He operates under an economy of words and action, imparting heavy weight to each utterance and step. Mike may be even more reticent than usual of late, realizing he must choose his conversations very carefully to navigate the unfamiliar waters of the Salamanca situation.
While Mike slips back into military strategy mode, Jimmy and Kim also make a quick trip into retrograde, bringing back Victor and Giselle for a short con for old time’s sake. Partially a peace offering to Jimmy, Kim deviates from her normal playbook to go off script in search of a more fulfilling narrative. And who better to call than the one person around whom she can truly be herself – whichever self that is? Of course Jimmy immediately ducks out from under the watchful eye of his babysitter and zips down to be by her side, as he has been battling a deeply restless experiential insomnia of his own.
If you give Jimmy a fancy car, he will tear apart the cup holder to accommodate his travel mug. If you give Jimmy a classy condo he will pace the floors like a caged animal and play basketball with the hallmarks of mid-Nineties interior design. (Think Pier 1 Imports.) Kim and Jimmy are hopefully back together at least long enough to help each other maneuver their individual existential crises. If one thing has become apparent with Better Call Saul, these two deserve each other.
WHAT WORKED: All the little things. That moment when Kim was getting dressed and it looked like she was forcing herself into someone else’s shoes. Jimmy’s to-hell-with-it battle with the cup holder. Kim’s glance up to the recently unpacked empty box before ditching the office for a Moscow Mule. Mike’s shakiness at having to resort to violence to defend his family again. There were countless subtle (and not-so-subtle) foreshadows in “Bali Ha’i” – enough to carry us over the half-season mark and make us really excited about what lies ahead.
WHAT DIDN’T: We haven’t heard from Stacey in a hot minute – not since she was freaking out about the stray bullets. I feel a bit curious about her loose ends, but it’s certainly not keeping me up at night.
“You don’t like your job? Boo-hoo. Poor baby. You know some people work for a living. No one gives us free cars.” – Nail salon owner, when Prodigal Son Jimmy returns.
“I’ve got a live one on the hook!” – Kim, telling Jimmy to get down to ABQ ASAP for some swindling.
Hector’s thugs: “We were just supposed to scare you.” Mike: “Try harder next time.” – Careful what you wish for, Mike.
“A car that’s all one color… nailed it!” – Jimmy, on living the high life.
BEST MOMENT: I might have squealed out loud when the camera cut to Marco and Leonel up on the mission-style church across the street from Mike and Kaylee. The shot was framed perfectly, the cousins were as stoic and handsomely terrifying as ever, and the contrast between their colored suits and the white church (not to mention their intentions and the cross behind them) was delightful. Mike’s face ticked slightly with fear for his family, and we are reminded that he still has not become the person we know from Breaking Bad. Even the most straight-forward of characters must evolve.
EPISODE’S MVP: Kim Wexler. While Mike’s conflicts and Jonathan Banks’ performance cannot be put on a back burner, he does need to share the spotlight with Kim. Rhea Seehorn has given an amazing light to Kim lately, and her portrayal in this episode is no exception. Watching her listen to Jimmy’s rendition of “Bali Ha’i” on the answering machine and seeing that she waits for his call every morning without picking up the phone was affecting nearly to the point of agonizing.
– Great classic Nineties commercials were sprinkled throughout the episode, not least of all: Chia Pets! Those things grossed me out even when I was 10.
– Leonel and Marco Salamanca first appeared in Breaking Bad Season Three, Episode One, “No Más”.
– I loved hearing the steel guitar of Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk” sing us through Jimmy’s insomnia segment.
– “Chao cac co, Ladies!” It’s so good to see the nail salon again.
– Smooth move by Mike to effectively make Hector pay Nacho for the hit on Tuco.
Next: “Inflatable”, soon.
Before: “Rebecca”, here.