Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Dreams of the Odd Office Cowboy

Is Kim turning into Dougie? I couldn't help thinking the moment where Kim, in last night's new Better Call Saul, spaced out staring at the weird cowboy office art was a lot like Kyle MacLachlan doing the same thing in last year's season of Twin Peaks.

Filming for this season of Better Call Saul started in January 2018 so it's entirely possible this was an intentional reference. It was a good episode, in any case, at least when it was focusing on Kim (Rhea Seehorn) or Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk). The stuff in the world of drug dealing tends to feel like pointless, unnecessary elaboration on back story established well enough in Breaking Bad.

Spoilers after the screenshot

Certainly a lot of effort went into making the first scene exciting with Nacho (Michael Mando) going the distance to make it look like he hadn't betrayed the Salamancas, including letting himself get shot in the shoulder and the gut. It's all very meticulously put together and you get the sense of the deep hole Nacho's getting into but he's . . . just so dull. I guess he's roughly the equivalent of Jesse on Breaking Bad and it's easy to imagine how much more interesting this scene would have been with Jesse in Mando's place. Jesse was a character established as someone with more layers; his ignorance was played for laughs sometimes but it could also be tragic. The intensity of Aaron Paul's performance went a long way, too. Mando is just Default Guy all the time.

Another Breaking Bad character is introduced, Gale (David Costabile), and it's kind of nice seeing him again. But the whole point of the scene introducing him just seems to be that he's being introduced. I didn't care.

I love Jimmy putting all his energy into getting some porcelain figurine and the guy having to sleep in his office because his wife kicked him out was a great funny but credible touch. Jimmy's idea to use a car alarm to distract him is one of those nice little practical ideas, somehow much more fascinating than the elaborate set up for Nacho at the beginning. It's in the fullness of the details, the idiosyncrasies of the characters.

I wonder what is happening with Kim. I remember last season had her building up into a hyper stressed state before ending with that car accident. Now seeing her wandering around those strange, ugly model houses, the keyboard music rising over the dialogue to help convey her disconnect; I guess she could be feeling a combination of burn out and depression. The final scene, where she finally starts to deal with the details of the meeting about Chuck, is almost the opposite of the scene from the end of the previous episode. Where that scene had led to a deeper connexion between Kim and Jimmy, now they seem divided. Jimmy's got his emotions walled off and she's feeling them more heavily. Of course, she still hasn't told him Chuck committed suicide so maybe she's tormented by what she instinctively thinks will occur when he finds out. Maybe it's healthier for him to think Chuck was secure in hating him right to the end.

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