Better Call Saul Dedicado a Max review

This week on Better Call Saul:

  • Mike does some carpentry!
  • Kim and Jimmy hatch a plan!
  • No Nacho!
  • Meet Mr. X!

Kim and Jimmy 

There’s a lot I love about Better Call Saul, but at the top of the list is Kim Wexler. I firmly believe she’s one of the most fascinating characters on TV right now. Part of that comes from how complex the character is written. And part of it comes from Rhea Seehorn‘s unparalleled performance. Seehorn is one of those actors who is very good at listening, and while you might think that sounds easy, it’s not. Many actors are great at pretending they’re listening, but with Seehorn, you always buy it.

And not only is she good at listening, but she’s also good at conveying her innermost thoughts. Again: no easy feat. But the way Seehorn furrows her brow, or silently looks on, speaks volumes. Kim is also a fascinating character because she’s one of the few individuals on this show whose fate is a mystery. We know how Mike and Gus are going to end up (dead). We know how Jimmy is going to end up (in hiding, managing a Cinnabon). But what of Kim? At some point, she and Jimmy have to part ways. It’s inevitable. And while there’s an optimistic chance that Kim gets away clean, it’s unlikely. Does anyone get away clean in the Better Call Saul/Breaking Bad universe? Even Jesse Pinkman, who got a shot at redemption in the follow-up film El Camino, is saddled with a lifetime of emotional – and physical – scars.

With that in mind, it seems very likely that Kim is headed towards disaster. Which makes this second-to-last season of Better Call Saul all the tenser. Because Kim’s day of reckoning is likely fast approaching, and we can already see the early warning signs. After several seasons of (mostly) resisting Jimmy’s crooked ways Kim is now all-in on bending the rules to suit her own needs. Sure, deep down she’s telling herself she’s doing these things for the right reasons – she wants to help cranky old Mr. Acker keep his house. But does she really care about Acker? At one point in this episode, even Jimmy asks: “Is Acker worth it?”

Kim thinks so. Or at least that’s what he’s telling herself. And that’s what she’s unleashed Jimmy onto the situation. Jimmy, being Jimmy, uses various cons and tricks to delay the destruction of Acker’s home – hiding the address on the mailbox, sprinkling potentially radioactive particles on the land, burying archeological remains, staging a phony miracle in the form of a stain that looks kind of like Jesus. It’s all pretty ludicrous, but it works to stall things.

A sensible person might cut their losses and let Jimmy win. But Kevin, owner of Mesa Verde, won’t hear it. He refuses to be beaten by Jimmy (and he’s completely oblivious to the fact that Kim is helping). He wants to win at all costs.

But so does Kim. So she goes the furthest she’s gone in a while here, and agrees to let Jimmy hire a private eye to dig up dirt on Kevin and potentially ruin his career. Jimmy attempts to recruit Mike (more on him later), but he’s out of commission. Which leaves Jimmy and Kim with the mysterious Mr. X, who does extensive digging on Kevin, and even breaks into his house. He comes up with nothing damning, though.

Or does he? In the surveillance photos from Mr. X, Kim notices something – something that puts a big smile on her face. But that smile is disquieting. Because it’s just another sign that Kim is on the verge of going off the deep end. Before the episode ends she’s engaged in a shouting match with her boss, Ken – who has clearly caught onto the fact that Kim is working with Jimmy in some capacity. Kim has had outbursts before, but this is something else – it’s brutal, it’s awkward, and it’s in front of lots of people. And like Jimmy asked: is Mr. Acker really worth all of this?

Mike

Last week, Mike found himself beaten and stabbed – only to wake up in some compound on the other side of the border. He quickly surmises he was brought here on the bidding of Gus, and sure enough, he’s right. Gus has pumped his money into this small village – he is their benefactor, although he chooses to remain anonymous.

Mike grumbles his way through recovery, and eventually gets back on his feet in more ways than one. His drinking days are over, and as he heals, he becomes more clear-headed. He even gets back to physical labor, fixing a rotten windowsill. This was, apparently, all part of Gus’s plan. He was helping Mike detox – and get beyond his demons.

But this move isn’t done out of some kind notion. Gus wants Mike better so he can come work for him again. “I’m at war,” Gus explains. “I need a soldier.” And why Mike? Because, as Gus puts it, Mike looks like someone who understands revenge. And sure enough, Mike does – after all, he sought bloody revenge against the cops who killed his son.

In some ways, Mike’s arc is almost as sad as Kim’s. He’s being drawn deeper and deeper into Gus’s criminal empire, and it’s going to eventually get him killed by Walter White. For now, though, he’s ready to go back to work.

Sidebar

  • The episode’s title translates to “Dedicated to Max” – and it’s an inscription we see on the fancy fountain in the town Mike finds himself. Max is Max Arciniega, very good friend – and possible lover – to Gus. Hector Salamanca killed Max, and it’s this move that has put Gus on a path to revenge.
  • The little moment where Mike starts gathering all sorts of electrical doodads with the intent of building his own phone charger only to be handed an actual phone charge is brilliant.
  • Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn are always good together, but they’re particularly great in the moment where Jimmy tells Kim the only play left is to go after Kevin personally. The way Odenkirk plays the moment – as both encouraging Kim while also kind of not encouraging her – and the way Seehorn reacts, with hungry eyes, plays out marvelously.
  • Hey, where the hell is Nacho? What’s he up to?
  • “This is Mr. X.” “It’s my work name.”
  • Kim doing an impression of Kevin’s voice while Jimmy impersonates Kim = *chef kissing fingers*.
  • “You never told me he was a side-sitter!”
Cool Posts From Around the Web: