By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – October 2, 2018)
“Auf wiedersehen” translates from German to, “Goodbye, until we see each other again.” In last night’s penultimate Season 4 installment of Better Call Saul, we watched two separate stories of possible farewells, one that might be legit, and another that was postponed for the time being. However, it just doesn’t wash that Werner is actually going to make it back to his wife, and unfortunately, because he took the drastic step to fly the coop, he’s now likely a dead engineer walking.
It was a simple story on that side of the equation, as Werner missed his wife terribly, was beginning to have anxiety attacks while attempting to do dangerous work, and badly wanted to go home. The job was taking so much longer than expected, with complications arising seemingly from every possible direction, and he finally reached the end of his sanity with it all. As much as he considered Mike Ehrmantraut a confidant and may have even hoped he could call him a friend, he also knew Mike couldn’t let him leave.
He asked. He was honest. And Mike was honest back to him, offering a phone call to his wife and telling him once that job was done, with the money involved, he would never have to spend another day apart from her. In effect, he’s right, but I’m still anticipating Gus executing the entire team once they complete the job, because that’s what bad guys do, especially on television.
We felt sympathy for Werner, just as were supposed to, although he didn’t have to accept the job in the first place. He doesn’t know exactly what he’s helping to lay the groundwork for, but he knows it’s something that has to be so secretive that not a soul can even be allowed to see these men at any point once they arrived in New Mexico. So, he has to realize the activities involved are likely questionable, controversial, or probably illegal. Vince Gilligan directed the episode, and it bears raving about the sequence with Werner and Kai placing the dynamite, because the way it was shot from inside the soon-to-be demolished wall looking out into that opening was beautifully done.
As usual, the episode’s best moments were Jimmy and Kim related, with Werner’s storyline next in line, and everything happening surrounding the Salamancas and Fring WAY down the list. I honestly find myself struggling to care about Don Hector and am already seeing where we’re headed with Lalo. He’s going to be a ruthless, arrogant, obnoxious villain that is going to make us actually look forward to his demise. This show is going to make us CHEER for Gus Fring for a little while. But I was largely uninterested in that portion of the episode.
We opened “Wiedersehen” with Kim’s Lubbock planning commission scam involving Jimmy and the new Mesa Verde location. If you didn’t follow it, the short version is through the misdirection and confusing the woman at the desk, Kim was able to replace plans that were previously approved with new schematics for a much bigger building, and got the woman to stamp off on it due to the caper with the formula and the lie about the baby in the car. That’s Saul at its best, and I’m glad we’re getting to see a few of these schemes before Slippin’ Jimmy and Kim Wexler go their separate ways.
It’s going to happen, with the only question being how it goes down and what happens to Kim once it does. I’m holding out this weird glimmer of hope that the end of the series will show Kim in Omaha somehow, but I’m not exactly holding my breath about that possibility. It could happen. Breaking Bad DID end cleanly, whereas it could and arguably should have ended with “Ozymandias” a few weeks earlier.
We see the argument once Jimmy’s “insincerity” costs him the opportunity to be a lawyer for another 12 months. While watching him with the committee, I was struck by how similar his approach was to what he used at the copier company and any number of other things he’s done. “I messed it all up,” he tells Kim once the two have calmed down from the argument on the roof of her firm. He didn’t mention his brother, and she knows that it was that decision that probably got him denied, because they had the transcripts and they knew what had happened. For Jimmy not to bring Chuck up at any point, for any reason, be it the events themselves or his death, rang of putting on a show.
But that’s what Slippin’ Jimmy does, and he actually goes back to using that nickname in accusatory fashion towards his girlfriend and best friend, then talks of the office she doesn’t want to share with him. And then came the single most apropos line in the history of Better Call Saul. It was a two sentence exchange that basically encapsulates this show, and Saul Goodman’s life in and following Breaking Bad. I’ve written it in numerous forms myself over the last several years covering these shows.
“There you go, kick a man while he’s down.” – Jimmy McGill
“Jimmy, you are always down.” – Kim Wexler
Yes, he is. He always is, even when he’s temporarily up. None of his “up” is sustainable, because it’s almost entirely below board. When he has money, he usually didn’t get it honestly. He’s involved in so many underground operations or half-truths or excuses or “woe is me” moments. While he could do it with integrity, he doesn’t. He works so hard to do it wrong, never stopping to take his medicine and attempt to do it right. He’s not taken seriously, not by the late Charles McGill, not by Howard Hamlin, not by Mike Ehrmantraut, not sometimes by Kim Wexler, and definitely not be the committee he needed to sell on his value as an attorney in New Mexico.
I would ask when Jimmy McGill is going to be up for good, but the answer is already well-known. Never. Even after his “disappearer” creates a new life for him in Nebraska, he’s still miserable, he’s completely paranoid, and he feels no sense of freedom. He’s also alone. That’s what his antics are ultimately leading him to. He’s isolating himself from much of society, and while he can be charming and corny and effective, he’s a one-man self-wrecking crew.
When Kim asks him if he wants to be a lawyer and he says he still does, she says “We can start there,” meaning let’s start fixing what you messed up in your life. She’s signaling to him she’s not leaving yet, she still cares for him and wants to help him. She’s always been in his corner, from her time at HHM to buying him a monogramed briefcase and a personalized tumbler. She likes him. She may love him.
But no one can save him from himself. She’s going to try, and as I’ve written previously, that wager to be a helper of someone so self-destructive may end up costing her everything she’s worked so hard to acquire the RIGHT way. But, she’s now also gone through multiple scams with Slippin’ Jimmy, and there’s no way to know for sure whether those happenings came and went, or whether they came, went, but are on their way back.
She’d better hope “Auf wiedersehen” applies to that move in Lubbock, because that’s every version of problem imaginable, just waiting at her door. And, what if she tries to leave? is Jimmy so gone by that point that he blackmails her with what the two did together? I don’t think that’s the character Gould and Gilligan have crafted, but this is a guy who makes every poor personal and moral decision possible, given enough time to do so. I doubt that’s how it goes, but we’re approaching a major turning point.
The season finale looms. I’m less sure of what’s to come next week than I have been in a while for a finale, because I can’t determine exactly what Saul needs to accomplish to end Season 4. There will be some kind of search for Werner, Kim will do what she can to help Jimmy professionally, and Gus will probably start plotting against Lalo (and vice versa), but all the questions leave me more than mildly intrigued for how these ten episodes conclude. It’s been a great season. If Saul sticks the landing, all the better.
I believe it will.
It always does.
I’m @JMartZone. I went to a Jimmy Buffett concert in 1997, but I didn’t buy a shirt.