Season Two, Episode Eight — “Fifi”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. Wow, that opening scene! In a weaving, Wellesian single-shot take, the camera meanders through all angles of Border Patrol for a full four minutes and change. From waiting in line on the Mexican side of the border to peeking around delivery trucks and over the shoulders of the border guards, we see the long process of getting drugs across that boundary sans tunnels. The closely zigzagging shot also eliminates the preconceived gap between border guards and the drug dealers, showing that, in many ways, they are both just entry-level dudes doing the grunt work they’ve been assigned.
Back in Albuquerque, Jimmy and Mike both approach their problems hands-on, with a little homemade creativity. While Mike hilariously enlists the help of his granddaughter to fabricate a nail-and-hose gadget likely intended to puncture tires, Jimmy keeps the copyshop worker up all hours to play cut and paste with the Mesa Verde files. Both scenes prove to be just a little silly while leaving us on the edge of our seats until next week. Mike meticulously employs gloves, soap and water to carry out his task, while Jimmy characteristically jumps into the moment a little too quickly. I think we know whose project is going to be more successful.
WHAT WORKED: Howard displayed a softer, almost sad side when he revealed to Kim that he regrets never striking out on his own, as he’s always existed under his father’s thumb. This ineptitude as a fighter is further highlighted when he enlists Chuck’s help in the Mesa Verde battle. While Kim wins over the account because she is a damn good lawyer and is perfectly capable of striking out on her own, Howard freezes and has to seek advice rather than pull himself up by his bootstraps. Chuck takes Howard’s breath away in the meeting, with his reverse psychology and trickery that reveal that 1) Howard is only successful if he can fall back on a father figure, and 2) Chuck and Jimmy really aren’t that different after all. Ol’ Chuck may feel a bit martyred and victimized by Jimmy’s showmanship and silver tongue, but at the end of the day they both wear flashy suits, Chuck’s is just glittery on the inside.
WHAT DIDN’T: I’m having a hard time suspending my disbelief to accept the near perfection of Jimmy’s handiwork with the Mesa Verde files. However, it certainly served to show just how much effort that man will put into making things difficult for other people. I suppose this could also be interpreted as putting in huge amounts of effort to help Kim, but I imagine in the long run it will only serve as a thorn in her side as well.
“He is Svengali. The man is Svengali.” – Chuck describes Jimmy as a sinister manipulator. Well, you know, Chuck…sometimes the things we can’t stomach in other people is that which we despise most about ourselves.
“Don’t be mad at Ernie. He spent the better part of his day watching you do your impression of a baked potato.” – Jimmy’s perfect assessment of Chuck’s Crazy Blanket.
“I needed a soaker for the rhododendrons.” No you didn’t, Mike. No, you didn’t.
BEST MOMENT: Kim’s hightail from Howard’s office to her own, trying her damndest to get Mesa Verde on the phone before he did was perfect. Not only is she determined to work hard and do whatever it takes to establish her practice, but she does not spare a moment to care how ludicrous she might look doing it. As long as it’s the right way, everyone else can suck it.
EPISODE’S MVP: Jimmy, once again. Though really, he’s already Saul. Sneaking a public masturbator disguised as a war hero onto an Air Force base really takes the cake. The UNM film students begrudgingly follow him around, using the wheelchair as a dolly to nab the most epic shot of Fudge in front of a B-29 bomber. This scene (and really, so many other aspects of this episode) made me over-the-moon excited for the final two episodes.
– I love, love, LOVE the congregation of popsicle sticks next to the gun pick-up spot, arranged like headstones in a messy, dilapidated cemetery. “De nuestra familia a la suya,” which translates to “from our family to yours,” reads as such a sinister message from the Salamanca Cartel in this context.
– Jimmy and Kim celebrate their upcoming partnership in The Dog House, where Jesse Pinkman frequently chooses to dine (and deal) in Breaking Bad.
– Mike has a very specific voice he uses when he’s lying, like a purring grizzly bear. We didn’t buy that rhododendron schtick for a second, good buddy.
9 out of 10
Next: “Nailed”, soon.
Before: “Inflatable”, here.