Alex Casey recaps the fifth episode of Lightbox’s much anticipated Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul.
All I can say is, thank goodness there’s finally been some light shed on Chuck’s bizarre condition (candlelight of course, not anything fluorescent). After stealing the neighbour’s paper last week, the police busted in on Chuck with as much gusto as they have tasers and various other electrical items. Poor Chuck sunk to the ground screaming in agony – this problem, whatever it is, seemed pretty bloody real. But more on that later.
We meet Jimmy relishing in his new-found fame as a local rescue hero. Making house calls to a wealth of interested clients, all kinds of crazy comes out of the woodwork. There’s a man surrounded by taxidermy lions who wishes to start his own sovereign state, a father with a very ill-considered talking toilet, and an old lady trying to divvy-up her extensive figurine collection. Jimmy accepts some, and rejects others – the guy isn’t totally over the moral hill yet (RIP Tony the Toilet Buddy, may we never ever hear from you again).
Back with Chuck in hospital, the show takes a physically painful turn. Excruciating electrical hissing and sickeningly fast shots plague the audience as he is forced to sit amongst countless machines, wires and lights. Jimmy arrives, shedding his suave lawyer schtick and jumping straight into the role of protective brother. It’s amazing how he can adapt to difficult situations with the flick of switch (bazinga). Sprinting around turning off all the lights, it is explained that Chuck suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity – he gets heart palpitations, cold bones and vertigo around electrical currents. Jimmy takes him home despite Chuck’s dodgy ex-boss lurking, and doctors advising further psychiatric evaluation. He knows what is right for his brother, or at least he’s good at acting like he knows.
“I’m going to become an elder lawyer,” Jimmy announces proudly to Chuck before getting back to work sketching out some suit prototypes. Being the marketing genius that we have already seen in last week’s episode, his next endeavour is to plaster his face all over Jello cups in local rest homes. He’s found a lucrative niche in the sick and dying, but something tells me this won’t stick around for very long. There’s not a lot of drama in old people (apart from the old lady trying to disperse her ornaments, of course).
Before the episode wraps up, we get our mandatory check in with Mike. Jokingly calling him Booth Tarkington, stone cold Mike remains consistently unimpressed with Jimmy’s jibes and/or existence. Taking a break from the world of Jimmy, the story takes a welcome shift to follow Mike as he clocks out and eats alone at a diner. It’s a classic Breaking Bad-style scene, naturally evolving into the start of a undisclosed mission. Mike cruises the streets in his car, following Jimmy’s mate Kim for a while before heading home. Chugging back a beer in front of the telly, a shadow swoops past his window. It’s the police. Like, a lot of police. A detective meets him at the door:
“Long way from home aren’t you?”
“You and me both.”
This is the real spinoff story I’ve been hanging out for, to be honest, Mike’s ambiguous past has been hanging in the air for a little too long.
As much as I’m enjoying the show, I can’t help but feel like I’m still waiting for something. I need some sort of ‘eureka’ moment where all the elements stitch together in a nicely fitted, single breasted suit. Here’s a tweet I saw today that summed this up nicely:
BETTER CALL SAUL is fascinating me, because it’s a beautifully made, well-acted show that is trying to find an artistic reason to exist.
— Zack Handlen (@zhandlen) March 4, 2015
As a character study of Jimmy McGill, the show is nailing it. There’s no denying that we have some real insights into his origins, and the various pressures upon him as a lawyer, a brother and a person just trying to do their best in a weird world. With that said, I don’t doubt that something big is coming soon – the writers have said everything Jimmy does in the early episodes will have severe consequences.
Here’s hoping that, much like Jimmy’s parking ticket, we’ll soon get the validation we’ve been waiting for
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.