Better Call Saul: "Fifi" Review



“I love seeing you like this.”

Full spoilers for “Fifi” continue below.

After the events of this episode, I’m convinced that Kim and Jimmy’s conflicting approaches toward the law are going to be the end of their relationship.

Their storyline in “Fifi” was bookended by the same conflict that they always come back to when working together: she wants to do things by the books, and he wants to fudge the rules to get his own way. (He literally creates a character named “Fudge” in this episode to do just that.) His decision to do justice for Kim and sabotage Chuck and HHM’s Mesa Verde claim seems like it will inevitably cause him and Kim to come into conflict again, and this one could be the big deal-breaker.

Will Jimmy ever learn? The answer seems to be “no,” given that there’s still the Saul of it all to come. That seems especially so when put into the context of the flashforward that kicked off Season 2, reminding us that even when “Saul Goodman” needs to be put in hiding, he’s never gone. “Saul” has always been a part of Jimmy’s personality, and now that he’s free to run his own practice, it’s doubtful it will take long for “Saul” to emerge.

But Jimmy isn’t fully a solo practitioner — at least not yet. “Fifi” was largely about Kim and Jimmy trying to figure out if they can make their partnership as two independent lawyers sharing costs work. That question isn’t answered this week, but the conclusion the audience can draw is “no.” Right from the beginning of the episode when they’re eating hot dogs, Jimmy’s instinct is to skirt the rules for Kim to keep the Mesa Verde case, while Kim wants to do things the “right” way.

Personally, I think Kim was in the right here, but the kicker is that Jimmy’s way almost always comes out with the outcome desired. In this situation, Howard acted exactly as Jimmy predicted, with Kim left scrambling to try to keep the Mesa Verde case to herself. She almost did… until Chuck bristled at the idea of Jimmy (it always comes back to Jimmy with galvanizing Chuck to do anything) benefiting and succeeding in this situation.

Michael McKean as Chuck McGill on Better Call Saul

Michael McKean as Chuck McGill on Better Call Saul

Aside: I love happy Kim. Rhea Seehorn is one of the strongest actors on this show, and seeing the potential of a Kim full of joy and success in “Fifi” was — I’d argue — the best scene of the episode. When Jimmy said, “I love seeing you like this,” I couldn’t help but feel the same. It was an important moment to punctuate, and it again highlights just how restrained Kim has been by her career so far, and how doing things her own way — not Jimmy’s way, not Howard’s way — is freeing for her. Whatever happens by the end of Better Call Saul, my hope is that this is the Kim we see make it out.

Anyway, Chuck nails his Mesa Verde meeting, of course, which means that Kim (and Jimmy, by extension) loses out on the big money-making case. This puts their plan of partnership into question, though the episode ends with the pair deciding to move forward with leasing the dentist’s office Jimmy found. The big thing that’s going to jeopardize that is Jimmy’s revenge against Chuck: going into his house when he was incapacitated by his illness and doctoring the Mesa Verde documents so HHM will send them to the wrong address.

Aside #2: It’s clear Jimmy feels guilt when Chuck said he would stand by his younger brother if he was in need just like Jimmy had for him while he was incapacitated, but I can’t help but feel that Chuck would have similarly sabotaged Jimmy if he had one-upped him and there was opportunity. Am I alone in this?

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill on Better Call Saul

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill on Better Call Saul

“Fifi” was filled with gorgeous cinematography — specifically all the wide shots of Jimmy and Kim together — and fantastic editing — both the opening single-take and the montage of Jimmy doctoring the files were standout — but there is one big thing that bothered me this week. There is a tug of war going on between Jimmy and Mike over who demands the spotlight for each episode, and while some episodes strike the right balance, others find one of the characters shafted. In this episode, Mike was the one who got somewhat sidelined, but my biggest issue with it is that his arc is the one that seems to carry the most weight.

We open on this great single-take shot through border patrol, following a truck driver we can immediately recognize is carrying something illegal from Mexico into the United States. After spending five minutes with him in the opening sequence, our suspicions are confirmed when Mike does some quality investigating and sees him meet up with Hector Salamanca later and then take the truck to a place where whatever was carried over the border can be removed.

Mike sees this for what it is, recognizes Hector’s role and, at the end of the episode, is putting together a hose spiked with nails that I can only imagine is going to be used to sabotage the tires of the truck and, in some way that will reveal itself in the future, sabotage Hector. Toward the end of the episode, Mike uses the assistance of his granddaughter to drill holes through the hose, explaining it away to her mother that he needs something to water his plants. It’s clear by the end that’s not the case.

Scenes between Mike and his granddaughter are some of the best of the show. (She’s literally His Girl Friday, as that’s the next time he’ll be watching her.)¬†Jonathan Banks plays them with incredible warmth, showing without the series needing to verbally remind us that everything Mike does, he does for his family. Still, while I understand the meaning behind these sequences and the fact they’re setting up future conflict, the parallel storytelling with Jimmy and Kim’s arc didn’t mesh well, and “Fifi” felt out of balance because of it. Maybe the issue is that the Mike storyline feels very Breaking Bad, which isn’t an issue inherently, but the physical threat of a cartel drug runner over the personal conflict of Jimmy’s storyline makes the former carry much more weight than the latter.

The Verdict

“Fifi” was another great Jimmy episode, though having to specify that this is a “Jimmy episode” ties to the big issue with this week’s installment and an issue with the season in general: the flawed balance between Mike and Jimmy’s storylines. Maybe this is something that will be put into perspective by the finale of the season, but as much as Better Call Saul can thrive in its slow pacing, the imbalance of the two main characters — as detailed in the review above — can sometimes do the show a disservice. Overall though, “Fifi” was another great episode of Better Call Saul and had some big moments queuing up what’s to come.

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