Better Call saul Pinata review

Welcome to our weekly review-recaps of Better Call Saul season 4. Each week, we’ll delve deep into the Breaking Bad prequel series, with spoilers galore. This week we examine episode 6 of season 4, “Piñata.”

better call saul pinata kim

Kim

Ever since her accident, Kim has been reconsidering her career path. She no longer seems interested in the Mesa Verde work, and instead finds her new public defender stint far more rewarding. The old Kim fought tooth and nail to land Mesa Verde. In this week’s episode, she’s ready to casually hand it all away. She goes to Rick Schweikart and offers him Mesa Verde if he’ll hire her as a partner as part of a new banking division. She doesn’t really want to do any of the work – she just wants to hand it off to assistants while collecting a great paycheck. 

It’s an interesting turn of events, and it’s an especially interesting new development for Kim as a character. She’s finding her footing again, and enjoying her work for the first time in a long time. But how long will it last? And how is Jimmy going to take it? She’s still worried about him, and grows even more concerned when he confesses that he decided not to go see that psychiatrist she recommended, even after he said he would. “It’s just not for me,” he says. “Why not?” Kim asks. “I don’t think that naval gazing is going to get me where I need to be,” Jimmy says. And just where is it he needs to be? 

better call saul pinata jimmy

Jimmy

“Piñata” kicks-off with a flashback to 1993. We see Jimmy, still a lowly mailroom employee at HMM, running an Oscar pool with the staff. The pool becomes an afterthought when Chuck comes strolling into the joint, celebrated as a hero. That’s right – the flashback gives Better Call Saul a chance to raise Chuck from the dead, and it was nice to see Michael McKean again.

In the flashback, Chuck just won a seemingly un-winnable case involving a company that dissolved then reformed as part of a scheme to fool stockholders. Kim is practically gaga over Chuck’s legal prowess, and this flashback hints that here was the origin of Jimmy’s plans to be a lawyer. He saw how smitten Kim was with the law, and then swiftly made his way to HHM’s law library.

Back in the present timeline of the show, Jimmy can’t stop daydreaming of the return of the law offices of Wexler-McGill. But he’s in for a rude awakening when Kim breaks the news that she plans to partner with Schweikart and pursue her own interests, effectively killing Wexler-McGill for good. Kim breaks this news over lunch, leading to a fantastic sequence where Jimmy excuses himself and proceeds to have what looks like a panic attack. He leans on a wall by the entrance to the kitchen, clutching at his chest and breathing heavily. All the while, the sound of someone rapidly chopping in the kitchen is heard, and the sound design in general increases to intense, alarming levels. But Jimmy stamps it all down and returns to the table to tell Kim he’s happy for her.

This revelation gives Jimmy the excuse he’s been looking for to jump back into his burner phone scheme. He orders several pallets of phones and stores them in the nail salon, and then he decides to take care of some loose ends. Namely: the three punks who jumped him and stole all his profits last time. Jimmy tracks these youths down and makes them a pretty good offer: he’ll pay them to leave him alone. But the punks are unimpressed with his offer, and try to rob him again. Jimmy flees, and the three chase after him.

But it’s all a trick. Jimmy planned this all out, and he has two hired goons get the drop on the three thieves. This leads to one of the most alarming developments in the life of Jimmy McGill. He has the three kids strung up upside down like human piñatas, while the hired goons bash real piñatas all around them in an act of intimidation. It works: the thieves are so terrified they agree to leave Jimmy alone forever, and spread the word. What makes this so alarming is how far over the line it goes. Look – these kids were assholes, and deserved to be taught a lesson. But Jimmy actually engages in the crime of kidnapping here – it’s the farthest he’s gone over the law on the show yet, and signals he’s only going to get worse.

It’s not all darkness, though. During the episode, Jimmy stops by HMM to give a distraught Howard a pep-talk. The firm is suffering financial difficulties, and things look bleak. Howard isn’t taking it well at all, and Jimmy calls him out on it, and tells him to quit whining and save the firm. “Fuck you, Jimmy!” Howard spits, and Jimmy is pleased. As far as he’s concerned, he’s motivated Howard to save HMM. That’s his good deed of the episode.

better call saul pinata mike

Mike

Gus has set up secret lodging for his German engineers – a team that will be building the massive underground meth lab we first saw in Breaking Bad. The living quarters are housed inside a big warehouse space, and everything looks on the up and up. But Mike raises an issue – these men are going to be isolated for months, which means they need more than just living quarters. They need ways to entertain themselves. So basketball courts and other amenities are brought in, much to the delight of the workers. Everyone seems happy…with one exception. One of the engineers, a man named Kai, is clearly bad news from the get-go – he’s smug and condescending, and Mike doesn’t like him at all. “Keep an eye on that guy,” he tells the security team monitoring the engineers.

When he’s not dealing Germans, Mike’s dealing with personal issues. He pays a visit to daughter-in-law Stacey to apologize for blowing up at the grief group. Stacey is cold to him at first, but thaws almost immediately, and is more than happy to have Mike back in her life to help with daughter Kaylee. Mike has put this fire out successfully. Now all he needs to worry about is that Kai guy.

better call saul pinata gus

Gus

One of the episode’s biggest moments goes to Giancarlo Esposito, as he recounts a story to the still-comatose Hector. Esposito is phenomenal, delivering the speech in a steady, measured, menacing way. The speech is meant to address a question that Gus’s own men have asked – why help keep Hector alive? Why not just let him die? Of course, we know the answer to that: this is a prequel, and Hector can’t die until the events of Breaking Bad. But since the show can’t come out and say that, it has Gus tell a tale from his youth.

A Coati – an animal the size of a house cat – was stealing fruit from one of the Fring family trees. Gus tracked it down, fought it, and caught it. The animal was injured “The merciful thing would be to kill it,” Gus said. “I kept it. It lived for quite some time.” Gus is toying with Hector – keeping him alive to further his suffering. 

As brilliantly-delivered as this speech is, it suffers slightly due to the fact that it’s only here to delay the inevitable. Gus can’t kill Hector because the timeline forbids it, and now the show has to make excuses. Don’t get me wrong – I’m more than happy to listen to Giancarlo Esposito give speeches. I just wish this season would start giving Gus a bit more to do.

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