Better Call Saul “Rebecca” Analysis (S2E05)

Another blue-shaded look into the past and yeah like Ryan I could tell what this cold open was going to do, but man, the execution and performances really carried it. Nothing overplayed about it but also comedically unashamed about how much they hammer the lawyer jokes while Chuck has to just endure it. I’m still unsure if Jimmy couldn’t help himself or if it was out of passive aggression, perhaps from sensing (whether subconsciously or not) the constant divide that he’s never of the same class. The Yo Yo Ma comment going over Jimmy’s head or just not being appreciated was awkward and I related to Chuck in that moment because that deserved a better reaction than Jimmy treating it like “why are you namedropping more culture on me?”. I think Jimmy was aware of his own clumsy ignorance though which may explain what comes next.

If there is anything true about a dinner party, it’s that there is never a more perfect time for a dance to take place in regards to deep-seeded issues. You can address things without ever actually addressing and in my opinion, Jimmy the schemer was sending a message to Chuck to “live a little” or “get a little stupid” and probably even knew that he was tapping his finger on the x-ray that Chuck’s specialty doesn’t lie in charm or delivering humor. Rebecca is swayed into Jimmy’s corner and it’s sad because Chuck isn’t even the boring sack he’s made out to be. I think it’s more of an insecurity that’s been fed in contrast to the broad intoxicating appeal that Jimmy emits.

I remember back in “Pimento” and finding that the inclusion of “because you’re funny and can make people laugh” in Chuck’s rant painted a generally accurate description of Jimmy’s ‘larger than life’ charisma, but that there is something worth exploring there and I’m glad we’re seeing that. This is more of a writers question but like Gretchen, I wonder how much more we’ll see of Rebecca because other than exploring Chuck’s psychological condition that will come to be, what more is necessary for us to know that we don’t already get? It definitely adds a fresh perspective to the story and I like that the ending of the episode kind of undercuts this by going even deeper to their father’s death and how Jimmy most probably did steal $14,000 from the business.

And yep it’s a great bookend with Chuck swaying Kim into his corner. Notice that the position of where Chuck and Kim are seated is like a mirror to Chuck and Jimmy’s “Pimento” moment. There is a hard truth being dealt and it’s more than just gaining further perspective on Jimmy. Unlike Rebecca, I think Kim realizes (despite Chuck saying that he’ll put in a good word) that ultimately she’s being used and that this is more of a rigged game than what hard, honest work will get her. Her question of “do I have a future at this firm?” is never answered. In fact, I think that’s the last time we hear her speak and all she gets is a cloud of more family McGill bullshit.

I loved the sticky notes scene (before the montage) where they weave between real-time and pasted-over dialogue. There was such a great rhythm to that and the montage that comes after with “A Mi Manera” by the Gipsy Kings playing was excellent. This was a fitting ABQ version from Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, but obviously also fitting to Kim’s situation and yes, I did think of Mad Men’s final season when it started to play. Kim got in uniform, fixed her bayonet, and hit the parade without anyone needing to convince her and it showed such great character. Jimmy didn’t stand a chance in getting her on board with his foolish, inconsiderate plan to sue HHM.

Heck, might as well hit play on this for rest of the read:

 

Howard’s casual rejection of what Kim accomplished in this episode was pretty devastating but I think I see where Howard is coming from. He’s fed up with where her loyalty lies and how she always seems to be caught in the middle of the conflict that Jimmy brings when by now, you think that would be avoided. Howard has to deal with Jimmy because Chuck is an important figure to the firm and Chuck has earned that, but why is Kim, a four-year member always tending to reap the same rewards? Why is he finding himself in the same dance with her just because she’s close friends with Jimmy? From the circus with the billboard and Jimmy making Howard out to be a schmuck throughout all of season 1 and then her demanding terms in regards to the decision of Jimmy being turned away, there just seems to be this air of immunity or entitlement that she possesses which I think he’s sick of entertaining.

It’s nowhere near the sense of entitlement that Jimmy has, but there’s a hint of her implementing herself (even if unintentional) close to this complex conflict that Howard is in, where it tends to protect her. I think he might feel that she takes advantage of that and despite the Jimmy/Chuck situation being such a game, Kim getting mixed up in this is his only exercise of power where he can show that this isn’t a game he wants to play. She’s not a player in this unit and he’s trying to underline that by keeping her at a distance and putting her in her place. I think it would have played better if Kim allowed Howard to relieve her from doc review on his own terms instead of just assuming that she would be put to work on that case. It’s not that Howard is power hungry, but it’s the only thing he can control for the moment.

As for the ending with Mike, haha wow. The way Mark Margolis plays the character as an older, shakier version of the Hector Salamanca that we would see in flashbacks on Breaking Bad and with such subtlety, is all the more reason why he was deserving of the Emmy he won for his performance in season 4. I was not expecting the Tuco problem to come biting back so hard. I love how we see the bell on the diner counter when he walks away.

Something extra to note:

-In “Cobbler”, I mentioned that the song “Sicilienne” was meant to be played by two people, one on piano (Chuck) and the other on cello. Now that scene has a lot of extra weight to it after learning of Rebecca’s talents.

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