Better Call Saul: “Something Stupid” (S4E7)

Any Better Call Saul fan is familiar with that Jimmy No™ feeling: when Jimmy is doing something so incredibly dumb and/or unnecessary that you end up either internally screaming or (if you’re like me) literally yelling “JIMMY NO” at your TV. The aptly titled “Something Stupid” (written by Alison Tatlock and directed by Deborah Chow) had several Jimmy No™ moments that made me want to reach through my screen and slap some sense into him.

This week’s teaser was heartbreaking. Kim and Jimmy, while still together, are now leading separate and very different lives. The montage demonstrates this in typically painful Better Call Saul fashion, drawing on the adorable teeth-brushing scene from “Switch” (S2E1)—when they first got together—in order to show the contrast with the present-day state of their relationship, which is marked by an ever-growing divide between them. We see Kim going about her business and Jimmy going about his, only together at bedtime, for teeth brushing, and silent takeout meals at home. Even these things start to become separate activities by the end of the split-screen montage.

The montage runs from May 2003 to January 2004 and we see Kim setting up her fancy new office at Schweikart & Cokely, where she is now a partner, as well as working on PD cases. Jimmy, on the other hand, is trying out his new tracksuit collection, each brighter than the next, and peddling phones under a bridge while also attending his monthly PPD check-ins. Jimmy ducks in and out of his job at CC Mobile, armed with new Saul Goodman business cards (Need to Call? Buy from Saul!), and sells his phones to drive-by customers, with Huell as his right-hand man. By the end it’s clear that they are both moving forward but in opposite directions.

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As Jimmy tours a potential new office space, I’m reminded of the scene in “Bingo” (S1E7) when Jimmy shows Kim his prospective office space and asks her to partner with him. This was back in the early days, when Jimmy was still hopeful that he and Kim could open an elder law practice together and share a fancy office suite in a high-rise building downtown. That didn’t happen, but they did end up in a smaller, less glamorous space—a former dentist’s office—as solo practitioners, together. By “Something Stupid,” Jimmy is solidly on his own. His Wexler-McGill dream is dead and buried, and he’s moving forward without Kim. Instead of touring the space with Kim, as he did previous offices, here he is showing the space to his current business partner, Huell. Jimmy, who seems excited about the space, asks Huell’s opinion, but Huell’s idea of what a lawyer’s office should be is more along the lines of Jimmy’s “Bingo” dream office.

In the months that have passed since we saw him last, Hector has made a great deal of progress. He is now conscious and able to respond to the basic questions Dr. Bruckner is asking him. Of course, he can’t verbally respond to anything; he only has the use of his finger. And so we find Hector in the physical condition he will be in throughout Breaking Bad. All that’s missing is that bell. At one point, Hector “accidentally” knocks over a glass of water as the nurse brings him his food. Dr. Bruckner assumes that this is some sort of involuntary muscle spasm, but really Hector is just trying to check out the nurse‘s ass as she bends over to clean up his mess.

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Later, when Dr. Bruckner meets with Gus to give him a progress report, he sees this on the videotape and it proves to him that the Hector Salamanca he knows is back, at least mentally. That’s enough to satisfy Gus and he tells Dr. Bruckner she is no longer needed and should focus on her work at the new clinic he has built for her. Gus has decided that Hector need not recover any further. His punishment will be a life where he is completely vulnerable and powerless over his own body, one where his mind is fully recovered but trapped inside a body that can only ding a bell.

Jimmy attends a party at Schweikart & Cokely as Kim’s date and I was pleased to see that, with her cast finally off, the classic Kim Wexler ponytail is back in full effect. As Kim works the room and introduces Jimmy around, he tries to be his usual charismatic self, but as the night wears on (and he continues drinking) it gets harder for him to fake nice. He retreats to Kim’s office, which is much more impressive than the office space he would be able to offer a future partner. He notices a letter from one of Kim’s PD clients, Diana Pender, framed with a picture of Kim and Diana. Diana praises and thanks Kim for working hard and believing in her when no one else did. Kim is achieving, simultaneously, the two things Jimmy once thought he wanted. She’s a partner at a big firm, raking in the cash, but she’s also helping people. She’s got the best of both worlds while Jimmy has achieved nothing. In fact, he’s way worse off than when he started.

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Jimmy grabs another drink and heads over to Kim, who is talking to Rich Schweikart about the upcoming company retreat. Jimmy jokes about tagging along, but Rich makes it clear it’s for employees only—a good-natured response to Jimmy’s own joke but one which was not entirely necessary and seems to put Jimmy in a mood. Rich, who wants to splurge a bit on the retreat that year, is leaning toward a ski trip to Taos. My Jimmy No™ senses started tingling as Jimmy responds that the better skiing is at Telluride (because what does Jimmy really know about skiing?) and Rich seems to entertain the idea. But Jimmy can never leave well enough alone. He keeps suggesting bigger (and more expensive) trips—loudly enough that the lower-level employees can hear him—and it makes all the partners uncomfortable, especially Kim.

Jimmy is aware of the amount of money and resources S&C has in comparison to what he will be able to afford when he starts his own practice and, although he knows he’s being an ass, in his mind I think he believes that at the end of the day, S&C can afford it. Or maybe he knows it’s too much even for a big firm like S&C and just wants to make Rich and the rest of the partners look like cheapskates in front of their employees. Either way, it’s prime Jimmy No™ territory and excruciating to watch— almost as excruciating as the tense car ride home with Kim. If you’ve ever gotten angry with a significant other during a night out (and who in any long-term relationship hasn’t?) then the vibes in the car are instantly recognizable and viscerally uncomfortable. Jimmy has definitely done something stupid and what’s worse is he doesn’t seem to care.

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We get our first look at the Super Lab in progress when the German workers are transported from their living quarters to the Laundromat. They file one-by-one down into the newly created basement space, which is still a long ways from being completed. From the timeline established earlier in the episode, it’s been many months since work began and they are behind Werner’s original schedule (as Mike knew they would be). Things take a turn for the worse when a crew member accidentally backs into one of the poles reinforcing the structure, and while there isn’t any sort of major collapse, the accident is going to set them even further behind. The men have been living in isolation and working for months, and their frustrations start to boil over as troublemaker Kai gets into a scrape with the man who caused the accident. Mike seems to have picked up a bit of the language over the months and he yells at them in German. The fight is over but the frustrations are still there, and so are Mike’s own frustrations with this new setback as well as the need for more blasting to make room for the lab’s freight elevator.

Jimmy is doing business under the bridge and examining his thinning hair (Saul Goodman comb-over here we come!) when he is approached by a man he immediately makes as a plain-clothes cop. The officer got his Saul Goodman business card off a drug dealer he busted and has come to ask “Saul” for a favor: stop selling to dealers and move his business to some upscale area where he can sell to law-abiding soccer moms. Jimmy is unwilling to change his business model, and the two get in an argument in which Jimmy claims he has a licensed business and can sell to whomever he pleases. I’m not sure exactly how he got licensed to sell drop phones out of a van on the street, or how he’s legally able to resell the phones he gets from CC Mobile, but I’m going to assume that it’s all (somehow) legal because he doesn’t seem at all worried about the cop busting him.

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What does worry him is that Huell, wearing headphones and believing the man to be an angry customer, hits the cop over the head with a bag of sandwiches. The officer isn’t injured, but it’s still assault; that’s bad for Huell, especially since he has a prior for pickpocketing. It’s also potentially bad for Jimmy, who isn’t supposed to be associating with known criminals per his PPD agreement. Jimmy tries to convince the cop that it was all a misunderstanding but the cop believes Huell knew who he was since he had busted him three years earlier. Jimmy even offers to stop selling the phones like the cop asked him to, but it’s too late. Huell gets arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer.

Mike goes to the Germans’ living quarters to meet with Werner, who is trying to help him with his German. We learn a fun fact: the German surname Ehrmantraut translates to “world-class strength,” which is highly appropriate for Mike. Kai insults Mike in his mother tongue, and Mike knows it. He still wants to get rid of Kai but Werner says he can’t let him go because he’s the demolition expert of the group and they still need one more blast. Werner tells Mike that they are “good boys” but they signed on for 8 months and, at this point, it’s clear that it will be much longer than that before they get to go home. They are going a bit stir crazy and need some R&R: fresh air, a change of scenery, and (it’s implied) some female companionship. Mike knows that Werner is right but just how he can solve the problem while still maintaining the level of secrecy and security the operation requires is unknown. This has the potential to be a dangerous mistake if not handled properly.

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At the courthouse, Huell tells Jimmy that he’s facing the max penalty of two and a half years. Huell isn’t about to do any time for this and wants to skip town, but Jimmy convinces him that he can fix his problem. “I don’t need to be a lawyer,” Jimmy says. “I’m a magic man.” In exchange for Huell promising not to leave town, Jimmy promises him he won’t get any time if he just lets him handle it. Of course, this is a promise that Jimmy can’t keep and the “magic man” goes straight to Kim’s office to enlist her help.

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This is the first time Kim is hearing about Jimmy’s side business and the fact that it’s not even her main concern in the situation says a lot about how bad things have gotten. Jimmy wants Kim to take Huell’s case and help him orchestrate the public shaming of the undercover officer. Jimmy has done some digging and found out that the cop got a DUI several years earlier. Jimmy’s plan is to somehow get the officer “smelling like a distillery” and then bait him into getting angry in court—and somehow stumbling—to make it appear to the judge that he is a drunk with anger issues. In Jimmy’s mind, this will get Huell off without any jail time, and perhaps it would, but Kim isn’t about to go along with it.

Kim is shocked and horrified, not that Jimmy could come up with such a plan—she knows full well what he’s capable of—but that he is still trying to drag her into his morally questionable schemes. Kim went along with Jimmy’s chicanery when it came to taking down Chuck, but that was partially because both of their futures depended on it. She still carries immense guilt for the part she played in that and the fact that Jimmy has no qualms asking her to do something shady yet again almost brings her to the verge of tears. I think this is the moment when she finally accepts the fact that Jimmy will never change. But she has changed; she’s moved on (and up) and she tells Jimmy that she will handle the Huell situation—alone.

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Kim’s attempts to wheel and deal in court with ADA Suzanne Ericsen are met with disbelief. Ericsen won’t budge on Huell: he’s got a prior, he assaulted a cop, and she will push for the maximum penalty. Kim tries to work some magic and get her to see that there were extenuating circumstances, but Ericsen seems more interested in why Kim would even bother with Huell as a client than she does in making a deal. Kim gets more aggressive, presenting Ericsen with her own case records that demonstrate that she has been more lenient with cases in the past—including those where the officer was seriously injured. Finally, Ericsen has had it. She tells Kim that there’s no deal to be made, and while she’s at it, she calls Jimmy “a scumbag disbarred lawyer who peddles drop phones to criminals.”

It’s unclear whether Ericsen is aware that Kim and Jimmy are together, but it seems like a pretty small world over there so it may have been a dig meant to get at Kim on a personal level. Either way, Kim looks like she’s been slapped in the face when she hears it. Because this is what respected members of the legal community in Albuquerque think of Jimmy; it’s what they will always think of Jimmy, no matter what he does. The fact that she paraded him around her office cocktail party, introducing him to everyone and hoping he would fit in, seems like a cruel joke when confronted with this harsh truth.

Kim calls Huell and sets up a meeting and then meets Jimmy in the parking lot, telling him that he has to back her play. Huell is going to have to do some jail time (although she promises to get it cut down) and he cannot jump bail. She is relying on Jimmy to back her up and make sure Huell stays put, but she knows him well enough to know that when he says, “you do your thing, I’ll do mine,” that she is not going to like whatever he’s planning. Kim is willing to help him with Huell but she can’t trust him to do what she asks—which is absolutely heartbreaking—and because she can’t trust him, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. She gets an idea while she’s driving and goes to a store where she buys a lot of markers, colored pens, notebooks, and other things that look like back-to-school stuff for kids. Then she calls Jimmy and says, “Whatever you’re doing, don’t” (which is the Kim Wexler equivalent of Jimmy No™) and tells him she’s got a better way.

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I have no idea what Kim’s plan is, or what a bunch of markers has to do with it, but this whole thing concerns me. I have had a sinking feeling (especially after last week’s episode) that Jimmy is going to sabotage Kim, but what I forgot to worry about was the possibility that Kim might sabotage herself to help Jimmy. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time, but now she has so much more to lose professionally (and, to be honest, so much less to lose relationship-wise) that it’s much worse to think about. Kim is so incredibly smart but, when it comes to Jimmy, she’s often inclined to do something stupid. As one of the few characters that has the potential to come out (mostly) unscathed, I really hope this plan of hers is solid. I love Huell and Jimmy, but neither of them are worth the risk.


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