Episode 9 - Pimento
The last few episodes have posed some interesting, and until now, unanswered questions. ‘Pimento’ ties up some loose ends before a finale that could fizzle out through lack of momentum or triumph on the back of unpredictability that sets up season 2 nicely.
The McGill brothers are right where we left them from episode 8, ‘Rico‘ or at least close to where we left them. After Chuck is shaken from his distracted stupor we find him sitting somewhat uncomfortably on a bench opposite his house, with Jimmy for company. Chuck’s self-imposed electromagnetic hypersensitivity tolerance training is beginning to take effect and the camera is allowed more freedom outside the confines of his dark hobbit hole.
In court Jimmy is brimming with enthusiasm at the prospect of his million dollar case and is prepared to fight tooth and nail against Schweikart and Cokely to get his case filed as a class action. Returning triumphant to a shrewd tactical paperwork dump from ‘S&C’ it’s clear Jimmy is out of his depth with the monumentality of Sandpiper Crossing’s RICO case’ swamped with work Chuck advises they seek external help. Chuck pleads with him to see reason and it takes some convincing for Jimmy to cave in and give Kim a call to arrange a meeting with HHM. Devastated with the prospect of working alongside Howard Hamlin Jimmy’s disappointment is stamped all over his face.
The moments of deceit, of betrayal, of unlawfulness, and of immorality were to be expected from Breaking Bad, the thrill of dramatic irony mixed with suspense, inducing numerous double takes and mouths aghast made it what it is, and we loved it. Better Call Saul‘s lighter approach is genuine so when we see Chuck making mysterious phone calls, on a mobile phone no less, our inhibitions are raised significantly. To be continued…
Following up an unrelated phone call whilst delivering a dog to Stacey and Kaylee from earlier in the episode we move away from Chuck and Jimmy and into a perfect example of why Better Call Saul stands apart from its mammoth predecessor. Walter White was no criminal in his early days, he had an idea of how to be a criminal but only from television, storytime with Hank, and misconstrued notions of inconspicuousness. With all the material hallmarks of a scene from Breaking Bad the next sequence tears down these dramatic barriers with Mike and his eponymous ‘Pimento’ sandwich. Linking the dog to Mike’s search for a job we find him alone in a humorously stereotypical multi-storey car park awaiting the arrival of his client, referred by the Vet. When a man mountain emerges from the stairs and strolls over to Mike the two wait patiently for the client and third member of their protection party.
Swaggering over in urban combats, surplus boots and sporting a confused combination of stubble, moustache and an ill-conceived orange tan the third member starts spouting off nonsense, trying and failing, to be intimidating. All water of a duck’s back to Mike who just stands firm choosing a Pimento sandwich over a gun for the job at hand. When the quivering K-Mart client eventually rocks up in his family people carrier Mike hilariously proves why three men are not needed for the job, sending action man to the ground in a breathless mess and man mountain sprinting for the stairs.
Swallowing his pride Jimmy prepares Chuck for their visit to HHM, Chuck’s first time in almost two years and his reception is heartwarming but the air is thick with conspiracy. Jimmy is shadowed out by Chuck’s spotlight and soon our inhibitions are met with a strong distaste for Jimmy’s treatment. Agreeing to wholly agreeable terms Jimmy is offered $20,000 for bringing the case to HHM as well as 20% of the slam dunk settlement in a few years time. When Jimmy raises his request for office 312 the room quietens and we’re left with an uncomfortable realisation of what is playing out, of what is to come of Jimmy’s hard work.
Disappointed, disheartened, and out of character for Jimmy, disgusted with his treatment he doesn’t hold back in his verbal sally against Howard. Equally dissatisfied, Kim tries to sway Howard’s decision. A second verbal onslaught is directed at Kim this time for questioning Howard, but in a surprising turn of events Howard suspiciously asks for Kim to close the door for what we assume is an answer to Jimmy’s question, why?
With tensions running so high at HHM we’re treated to the rest of Mike’s side story. Beneath towering factory pillars in a dusty car park we find our criminal family man and the stone-faced Mike pondering life’s biggest question, how is this going to go down? We know from Breaking Bad experience that Mike is no stranger to these situations and as expected he handles it with a stern approach that sees the return of Nacho and ensures his nervous client is paid the full amount down to the last $20.
Jumping right back into Jimmy’s angry loafers and Kim is waiting for him outside the nail salon. Raging, Jimmy enters with every intention to rant about Howard through the bottom of a bottle but Kim throws a spanner into Jimmy’s party plans. Whatever Kim and Howard spoke about behind closed doors Jimmy’s head is left spinning.
For every laugh the multi-storey car park scene gave us earlier in the episode the closing scene of ‘Pimento’ matches it with a seriousness we can’t take our eyes off. Admitting defeat and deciding to take the deal from Howard Chuck consoles Jimmy’s pride. But we can sense Jimmy knows something we’ve been guessing ever since Chuck’s midnight phone call. Jimmy confronts Chuck about his betrayal; guilty, Chuck retaliates with a harsh rebuttal that delivers the quote of the episode – “Slippin’ Jimmy with a law degree is like a chimp with a machine gun.” Chuck – after degrading his own brother Chuck’s immediate attempt to repent for his harsh words falls on deaf ears as Jimmy coldly reels off the shopping list declaring “I am done” as he heroically storms out the door.
Perfectly set up for a fascinating finale to season 1 that could take us anywhere come back next week for a final round-up of Better Call Saul Season 1.
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Until then, Happy Viewing