Better Call Saul, 4 x 1, “Smoke”

This week I’m back with a review of the first episode of the season, since I came on board with episode two. Future robolibrarians of the internet, please place this post at the beginning. Or don’t, because this post will feature a lot what I thought in retrospect.

For the opening scene of the season, we return to fabulous Omaha, Nebraska, where beloved Cinnabon manager Jimmy “Saul ‘Gene Takavic’ Goodman” McGill is bored at work until a shady looking mall customer causes him to faint. Hospitals are the worst case scenario for a lawyer on the lam. They have law enforcement all over them, sophisticated computers that need accuarate data, and also they’re expensive. Gene passes doctor’s examination, but a glitch at the front desk trips him up. Side note: are Gene’s glasses real? I’ve always assumed they were fake, but maybe the Jimmy/Saul personas wear contacts. Once Gene talks his way through his fake ID, he hops in a cab… that has an air freshener from Albuquerque. Gene walks home.

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Photo source: press.amcnetworks.com. Photo credit: AMC/Sony Pictures Television/Nicole Wilder

In the colorful past, Jimmy wakes up at home with Kim. Howard calls, but Jimmy’s not in the mood to talk with him. He displays from tremendous breakfast making skills (probably how he landed that Cinnabon gig) and helps Kim get ready for the day with a busted wing. Howard calls and leaves a message. Finally, Jimmy learns that Chuck died in a housefire that he caused in season three. Jimmy deduces that Chuck’s sensitivity to electronics returned when he sees the appliances on the outside of the charred house.

Mike loves playing with Kaylee, but she has to go to school, and y’know, live with her mom. He ditches the security job since Madrigal will pay him enough in hush money. He gets a check from them in the mail. He watches baseball on TV. He shows up at Madrigal and begins safety inspections even though he doesn’t really have a job there. He apparently films a series training videos that you can view on amc.com. These videos are actually pretty funny. They are pure Mike Snark in goofy cartoon format. His shenanigans prove more than enough to attract the nervous fury of one Lydia Rodarte-Quayle. Lydia wants to Fring to put a stop to Mike’s actions, but Fring has much bigger problems.

At the end of season three, Hector Salamanca collapsed after a stroke, induced when Nacho switched his meds with fake pills. Nacho gives the EMTs Hector’s real pills, but cannot get rid of the pills quick enough before Fring and cartel boss Juan Bolsa commission him to keep a lid on the Salamanca operation until Hector recovers. Nacho agrees, but Fring knows that something’s up so he has a man tail Nacho, and observes him finally tossing the fake pills. Nacho managed to land himself in deeper crap than ever, and he clearly just wants out of the game.

Howard calls Jimmy yet again, with the details of Chuck’s obituary. Jimmy can’t handle it. He sets the phone down and pays no attention, but Kim okays it with Howard. Later, Howard meets with Jimmy and Kim, and expresses his guilt in person. Howard reveals that he had to let Chuck go last season, because his presence in the firm had lowered their malpractice insurance rating. Last season, Jimmy had called the insurance rating firm to report Chuck’s erratic behavior during the trial that got Jimmy disbarred. Howard does know that Jimmy pulled the whistle. And Jimmy, showing a callousness that will slowly define him this season, gladly lets Howard shoulder the blame for driving Chuck to suicide.

An awesome beginning to season four. The first few episodes of this season start with a strong Nacho storyline, and it slowly lights the fuse that’s going to set Mike off later in the season. Jimmy and Kim’s relationship has reached a weird level of stability that creates a thousand questions about her presence in his life during the Breaking Bad years. But this season’s just getting started…

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Author: Aaron Heil

Follow Aaron on Twitter @AaronJamHeil or see all the different stuff he's into on Goodreads.

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