better call saul talk 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 4 of season 4, “Talk.”

talk jimmy

Jimmy

“I think you should talk to someone,” Kim tells Jimmy early in “Talk.” She’s worried – worried about his reaction (or rather, non-reaction) to Chuck’s letter. Worried about his oddly chipper attitude in the wake of Chuck’s death. Worried in general.

Jimmy isn’t adverse to the idea of talking to someone about his possible emotional problems, but he’s also quick to change to subject. He enthusiastically tells Kim that he just landed a job – selling cell phones. Kim seems happy for him, but there’s a twist: while Jimmy was indeed offered this job, he turned it down. Still riding high from his Hummel scam from the last episode, he had apparently slipped into a mindset of giving up on a steady, legal job. But the conversation with Kim results in a change of heart, and Jimmy desperately calls back the cell phone store manager and says he’ll gladly take the job if it’s still available.

It is. And boy oh boy is it boring. The cell phone store Jimmy finds himself working at is located in a dead-end strip mall. Things are so laid-back and uneventful at the location that when Jimmy calls up his supervisor to inquire about the foot traffic, the supervisor advises Jimmy to start bringing a book to read to kill time.

Jimmy doesn’t have a book. But he does happen to have a rubber ball, which he proceeds to bounce off the window a la Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. (Note: I was convinced the glass window, which thudded and rattled with each ball strike, was going to shatter. It did not.)

After bouncing that damn ball for seemingly hours, Jimmy heads out to rendezvous with Ira, who has the money from the big Hummel heist. We also see that Ira is currently working as a soda delivery man, so he hasn’t started up his Vamonos Pest business yet. Ira has the money, and then some: the stolen Hummel triggered a bidding war, resulting in even more dough. Jimmy is startled – Ira could’ve easily pocketed the extra money and not told him. But Ira is thankful that Jimmy helped get him out of a jam, and it’s clear the two are about to embark on a criminal partnership of sorts.

“We’ll do this again,” Jimmy tells him. “I’ll find something.”

Ira is down for that, advising Jimmy to set it up through Dr. Caldera, the veterinarian. “New job, new phone,” Ira says, and you can practically see the light bulb go off above Jimmy’s head. He rushes back to the dead-end cell phone store and paints a message on the windows: “Is The Man Listening? Privacy Is Here!” Once again, Better Call Saul is planting the seed that will sprout into Saul Goodman. Jimmy is turning a legitimate business into an lightning rod for potential criminals. And he’ll no doubt take Ira’s “new job, new phone” mantra to heart. After all, when we meet Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, he has an entire desk drawer filled with burner phones.

talk nacho

Nacho

Nacho gets the most action-packed storyline this week – and also the most tragic. He’s being drawn further and further into the world of Gus Fring, and Gus’ vendetta. Gus wants to seize power wherever he can, and he’s using Nacho as a pawn to get it down.

He has Nacho take the Salamanca Twins to a run-down motel occupied by the Espinozas, whom Nacho fingers as the people who shot up his car, wounding him and killing Arturo (of course, that’s not what happened at all – Gus killed Arturo, and Gus’ men staged the shoot-out scene). The Twins don’t miss a beat. Rather than wait and come back with more men, they pick up personal arsenals and go forth, engaging in a huge shootout full of blood and bullets.

Nacho is still wounded, and looks alarmed at all this violence. He could easily hang back and let it play out, but he instead decides to jump into the fray and help the twins. There’s a great shot here – Nacho crouched down as one of the twins fires endless rounds above him, empty shell casings raining down. When the dust has settled, all the Espinozas are dead. And Gus can now snatch up their territory. And he’s only just getting started. He tells Nacho he’ll have more work for him in the future – something Nacho clearly doesn’t want to hear.

Wounded and exhausted, he slinks back to his father’s house and begs his old man to let him crash for the night. It’s a quiet, emotional moment, especially coming on the heels of the big shootout. Nacho looks so very weary, and he has no way out of the situation he now finds himself in.

Talk Kim

Kim

Nacho isn’t the only person feeling hopeless. Kim may have expressed interest in having Jimmy talk to someone about his issues, but she obviously is going through some shit on her own. She finds herself showing up in court, studying cases.

A judge notices her presence, and requests to see her in his chambers. What follows is an amusing scene where the judge tells Kim he has a case that might be right up her alley, and then proceeds to describe the plot of the Paul Newman movie The Verdict. Kim sees through his ruse quickly, and the judge counters that that was the point. He’s interpreted Kim’s court-watching to be an attempt for her to find a “Save the Broken Lawyer” case. One big, noble case that will make her feel good about herself again.

But such a case doesn’t exist. And the judge more or less advises Kim to get the hell out of there and stop showing up in his courtroom. Yet later, when he returns to the bench, there Kim is, sitting in the courtroom with a determined, almost challenging look on her face.

The Kim subplot gets perhaps the least amount of time here, but as usual, Rhea Seehorn sells it beautifully. The steely look she shoots at the judge is powerful, and just the way she carries herself – still wounded from her car accident, but also seemingly ready to lash out in some way – is riveting.

talk mike

Mike

“Talk” is very much a Mike episode, and there was a moment where I thought the hour was building towards another “I broke my boy!” moment reminiscent of season 1’s “Five-0.” That doesn’t happen, but there’s still plenty of material for Jonathan Banks to sink his teeth into.

Mike is fed up, with almost everything. Like all the other characters in this week’s episode, he feels stuck, and he’s just waiting for something, anything, to shake things up. He’s still attending grief group meetings with his daughter-in-law, but other than bringing him closer to Anita (whom he may or may not be in some sort of romantic relationship with; it’s not 100% clear), the groups aren’t offering Mike much.

In fact, he’s spent his time there studying one of the members – Henry, a widower (played by Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place veteran Marc Evan Jackson) who can’t seem to keep his stories about his dead wife straight. Mike has figured out that the man is lying, and it’s pissing him off.

Things come to an explosive head after Stacey, Mike’s daughter-in-law, tells the grief group a story about how she’s afraid she’s going to forget her dead husband, Mike’s son. Watch Jonathan Banks’ face here: as Stacey talks, he twitches and snarls, looking incredibly uncomfortable and angry. The anger boils over, and he proceeds to out Henry as a fraud in front of the stunned, silent group. Mike could’ve perhaps let this all go after Henry stormed out of the room, but he’s not finished. He then turns on the group itself, accusing them of feeding off each other’s misery.

Later, Mike meets with Gus, and while Gus seems to be threatening Mike for not telling him sooner about Nacho’s schemes Mike isn’t phased. He’s past the point of caring. And he can tell Gus still needs him – for a new job in particular. “Just tell me about the job,” Mike barks as the episode cuts to black.

There’s a fascinating dynamic at work in “Talk.” The characters in focus here – Jimmy, Nacho, Kim and Mike – are all at some sort of crossroads in their life. They’re all feeling stuck and hopeless, and even angry. But only Jimmy seems able to make this situation work to his advantage. He ends the episode on a high-note. Everyone else, however, is still stuck right where they were when the episode started.

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