Season Two, Episode Nine — “Nailed”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. Mike really feels like he pulled it off this time. Diverting the ice cream truck, finding the hidden cash and redirecting Salamanca’s quarter million dollars into his own trunk, Mike is as buoyant as a hard-boiled old man can be. Surveying Hector’s tantrum from a distance brings an eyebrow tick of pleasure to his face, and he happily heads over to the local tavern to celebrate, buying a round for the entire crowded bar. Nailed it.
Only he didn’t. A subsequent meeting with Nacho brings the uncomfortable realization that drug cartels and dirty cops are apples and oranges, and Mike has a lot to learn about keeping things clean. The only thing Mike unequivocally nailed was the Good Samaritan’s fate to the cross, indirectly causing the gruesome death of an innocent stranger. Something tells me Hector Salamanca is a mere stone’s throw from that wheelchair.
Jimmy, however, is busy hanging back and watching the events he instigated unfold. Part Elmer Fudd and part noir PI, he scurries around Chuck’s scenes alternately peeking out from behind trees and lurking in the obscurity of street corners after dusk. Like Mike, Jimmy’s expertly-arranged plan terminates in a potentially life-threatening grand SNAFU. They deserve each other, those two.
WHAT WORKED: With family dramas, crazy kings and budding cross-border feuds, this episode is as recognizably Shakespearean as they come, but without the heavy handed symbolism to which so many writers and directors turn. As ostentatious as the characters can be as the fool, the royal or the villain, the beauty is in the subtlety with which it’s all woven together. The writing, directing and cinematography gels like very few other shows have ever been able to do.
WHAT DIDN’T: Nacho is a bit back-and-forth this season. Perhaps it’s because he’s grown up in a very specific bubble that gives him a savant-like intelligence, but his brand of street smarts always strikes me as a bit murky. Some days he comes across as quite bright, and other times he is careless and naïve. While I enjoy his character and am curious to see what he will ultimately add to the show, his inconsistencies don’t always add up.
“I’m just worried about your comfort.” – Howard, not wanting Chuck to appear in court. “I find victory laps very comforting.” – Chuck, unaware of what’s in store.
“Do you want to talk about this?” – Jimmy, sensing Kim’s iciness. “Not now, not ever.” – Kim understands the less she actually knows, the better.
“Who’s the guy that won’t pull the trigger? You.” – Nacho and Mike could stand to learn a bit from each other.
BEST MOMENT: Kim’s oh-so-careful string of remarks to Jimmy seal her role as the brains behind their partnership. Each sentence is left hanging in the dark, working its way into Jimmy’s mind to blossom into fear. She made it clear she never wants to talk about it, that she will always be more careful than Jimmy. But she will also not allow him to make foolish, tripping mistakes that will drag her down with him. That lesson was already learned the hard way, and the stakes are too high now that they’re on their own. By accepting to partner with Jimmy, Kim has willingly initiated a transformation, whether she was completely prepared for it or not.
EPISODE’S MVP: For all of Chuck’s and Jimmy’s schemes and attempted trickery, the real regal presence in this episode is Kim. As Jimmy backhands for power over Chuck and Chuck monologues towards a big reveal of Jimmy’s transgressions, Kim takes it all in wordlessly before delivering a speech that stuns the brothers into silence. Her ability and willingness to cut through Chuck’s pomp and circumstance and Jimmy’s smartypants antics declares that her days as a pawn are over. She has become a lawyer to be reckoned with, and is content (even eager) to make her own moves.
– Incidentally, this review was written from a cheap hotel not too far from Albuquerque. I have to admit, while I realize Better Call Saul is something of a period piece, the evidence of any change over the past 10-20 years along New Mexico’s I-40 corridor is not always visible.
– The camera angle that captures Chuck like a batty ol’ king enveloped in his crazy cape atop his throne, mirrors Jimmy’s appeal to the UNM students to shoot him from a low angle. They aren’t that different, the Brothers McGill.
– Interesting find on Twitter this week: @sirena6783 took a moment and spelled out all the titles of this season’s allotment of episodes, and came to an intriguing conclusion: “FRINGS BACK.”
Next: “Klick”, soon.
Before: “Fifi”, here.