Summary: Jimmy visits Irene Landry and discovers that if Sandpiper settles he will make over $1 million. He tries to talk Irene into settling but when it doesn't work, he completely destroys her social life to get what he wants and Irene decides to settle. Mike visits Lydia to get on Gus' payroll. Gus and Hector meet and the cartel approves their joint operation to Hector's dismay. Hector hasn't died yet so Nacho is forced to tell his father that Hector will be going to visit soon. The insurance company threatens to raise the premiums of everyone in HHM and Chuck responds by seeing them in court. Howard has had enough and wants Chuck to leave HHM and retire. Chuck isn't pleased and threatens to sue HHM, while also threatening Howard. Kim gets in a car accident.
The Good: Like last episode, this episode was mostly set-up but the execution was superb. The episode moved at a good pace, had a purpose, and there was an overall tension throughout the episode which never went away. This was every bit as impressive as the set-up in the previous episode, and all the storylines were extremely exciting as they reached a boiling point. I can't wait for the payoff in the finale.
But before I get into the finale, I'll have to talk about this episode. I'll start with the Mike storyline for this one. I think Mike's story has been the weakest in the back half of this season (see: The Bad), but nevertheless, I enjoyed his storyline because it managed to finalize the deal with Gus and because it allowed us to see Lydia and Madrigal once more.
The Gus and Hector storyline remains interesting too. There hasn't been much time given to that storyline since "Sabrosito", but in a single excellent scene their rivalry got to continue in a big way. We got to find out why Gus was happy about the joint operation, because he suspected the cartel would be fond of it, and it ended up being a perfect way for Gus to smite Hector. I really enjoyed getting that pay-off by seeing Hector's anger. It also helps remind us that Nacho's swapped pills will be taking effect soon, but we have no idea when. I like that every scene Hector is in has an air of tension because we don't know when the Ibuprofen pills will actually hit him hard. I suspect we will be seeing the big moment in the finale, but I'm sure that Better Call Saul will find a way to make things less predictable and more tense. Also as a side note, I really enjoyed the cinematography in that scene. The lighting, camera angles and sound were great at conveying the mood of the scene to make it feel especially brilliant.
I enjoyed Nacho's scene with his father. That story hasn't been developed much, but it is simple and it's easy to follow the emotions of both characters. It was a powerful scene which delivered some good set-up for when Hector inevitably comes to Nacho's father's business, likely in the next episode.
Kim's short storyline was very well done too. We have seen her under a ton of stress in the last few episodes, and to see her drowning herself in work to try to avoid facing it is very good television. It's so subtle that I feel like there may be varying interpretations as to why Kim is working herself so hard. I took it as her dodging her guilt and stress by working extra hard, but I can understand if somebody else sees the storyline in a different light. Her story had a lot of tension too because there was just something off about the tone in her scenes. It felt like something would go wrong, and that car crash at the end felt like a culmination of all that tension. The jarring nature of that scene was also a great call-back to the scene where Kim took a brief nap back in "Expenses".
The Chuck storyline was a highlight in this episode. His conflict with Howard came quicker than I expected, but it felt very organic since the consequences of Chuck's malpractice insurance going up were much greater than I thought they would be. It was a pleasant surprise to see such huge consequences from Jimmy's actions back in "Expenses" and I think it did a great job of developing the tensions between Howard and Chuck. The meeting between Chuck, Howard and the insurance people was excellent and it conveyed Howard's growing frustration in a great way. After all the bad decisions Chuck has made in the recent past which have hurt HHM, it is hard to blame Howard for wanting to get Chuck out of HHM. I was happy to hear Howard still trying to act friendly and pleasant even when suggesting Chuck retire, which fits the character of Howard that we have come to know after 3 seasons. The following scenes were great too as Chuck reacts in a very negative way, suing HHM. The "god dammit Chuck" from Howard was a funny line, but it felt real and transitioned nicely into the verbal spat between Howard and Chuck. Once more we get to see Chuck's despicable side coming out, but it's refreshing to see that it isn't Jimmy on the receiving end this time. It makes it easier to sympathize with Howard, who only wants to keep his father's firm alive afterwards.
Lastly, we have Jimmy's storyline which was tremendous. In the last review I commented how Jimmy seems to be starting the transformation into Saul, but just one episode later he seems to have whole-heartedly committed and I honestly think it's a good thing. This process could have been dragged on, but it wouldn't make sense. Jimmy has already conned before, so there isn't much change for him to ponder. In his mind, he's getting results through conning again, so he's going to keep doing it to reap his reward. And when the reward is $1 million which will solve all of his and Kim's problems, why wouldn't he go back to his "morally flexible" side to get it? This show has done a great job of making us understand Jimmy's character to the point where we are able to understand why he does something as depraved as ruin an old woman's life for his own gain. But still the show is able to convey how despicable this is to the point where we no longer support Jimmy. Once again his motivation is to help Kim, but this time he goes too far. Chuck wasn't an innocent, but here Jimmy just prays on an innocent old woman who never did anything to harm him. And worse yet he does it without even an ounce of remorse for her. It was tough to watch and I genuinely felt bad for Irene by the episode's end, which was helped by a stellar performance from the actress who conveyed Irene's heartbreak in a painful way. The bingo scene where nobody clapped at all told a story in itself.
I liked the little things in the Jimmy story too. The set-up of Jimmy's con and its execution was very satisfying and a lot of it was very fun to watch. Jimmy is so charming when talking to the elderly which is very fun, and on top of that it was great to see little things like the trunk full of shoeboxes.
The Bad: Mike's storyline has been disappointing after it started off so well this season. He hasn't done much of note since "Sunk Costs" and his deal with Gus was very disappointing. It occurred too quickly and without enough build-up, making it lack the emotional impact it should have had. This hurts the Lydia scene in this episode because I really don't buy into why Gus is willing to go so far for Mike when they really haven't known each other for long or done much.
The Unknown: How hurt is Kim by the accident? Will there be repercussions with Mesa Verde or Gatwood? How will Jimmy react to Kim's injuries?
How will Chuck vs Howard go? Will they eventually make up or will this actually be taken to court?
Best Moment: The bingo scene with Irene was excellent fun to watch and the following scene where Irene showed her confusion and pain at losing her friends was just as powerful. Jimmy really did his worst deed in this episode, and there isn't anything else even close to as bad as this.
Character of the Episode: Irene.
Conclusion: While not as explosive as the penultimate episodes of previous seasons, this was a very tense hour that set things up for a big finale. I really enjoyed this and it leaves me very excited to see a lot of these storylines come to a head in the next episode.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.