Better Call Saul Season 2 Episode 4 ‘The Fixer Is In’

- Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Usula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Photo Credit: Usula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

The title of the show may be Better Call Saul, but after a little over a season, it’s clear that much like its illustrious predecessor, this show is a two-man operation. And as much as I enjoy watching the exploits of Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) as his sweet talks grandmothers into starring in local TV commercials, the show truly shines when both Jimmy and taciturn fixer Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) share the spotlight.

And after three episodes of teasing us with subplots showing Mike as the muscle for a nebbish pill pusher, this week we finally see him get more screen time as he takes on a job from drug dealer Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) to take out his partner Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz). The show opens with Mike, entering his apartment, dropping a stack of money on his kitchen table, and looking for some frozen vegetables. What are these vegetables for? The big reveal of the cold open shows us Mike’s extremely disfigured face. And the rest of the episode shows us exactly how Mike went from fixer to punching bag in the span of a few days.

Meanwhile, at the law offices of Davis & Main, Jimmy is forced to reap the consequences of the inflammatory commercial he produced and broadcast for his Sandpiper Assisted Living case. Of course, the partners are not pleased with this lowbrow commercial that, though effective, does not adhere to the high-class standards of their firm. In these scenes with the partners, Jimmy can’t help but continue with his “always be closing” ways, trying to sell his partners on why the ends justify the means. The old guard isn’t biting, and they reprimand him with a final warning that one more mistake like this and he’s out.

But the main story of this episode centers on Mike and his decision to help Nacho deal with his Tuco problem. Nacho offers Mike $50,000 to take out Tuco and make it look like a drug dealer hit. In these moments, we see Mike in all his problem-solving glory, explaining to Nacho all the ways that a hit like this could go wrong, when Nacho thinks it’s as easy as “pull the trigger, get paid.” It’s this sort of methodical and deliberate thinking that truly personifies Mike. Though past his prime, Mike is by no means slow. Rather, he is like an aging boxer, who knows he has to save his energy for when it really counts. He thinks about each of his moves carefully, rather than going in guns blazing. Every decision must be fully thought out and every contingency must be accounted for.

Mike ultimately convinces Nacho that killing Tuco will not solve his problems (and in truth, given the timeline of the show, we know that Tuco is going to live to fight another day). Instead he devises an even better plan to take Tuco off the board, while giving Nacho an airtight alibi, and keeping the cartel leaders from getting suspicious. This plan is not without violence, and Mike’s face ultimately pays the price for putting Tuco in prison for a few years.

As we near the halfway mark of the second season, Better Call Saul appears to have hit its stride in dividing story time between above board Jimmy McGill, Attorney-at-Law, and the decidedly below board Mike. The only complaint I have is why the two don’t have more screen time together. And while I understand that from a story development standpoint, it doesn’t make sense that these two’s paths would cross more than they already do. But when they do get a chance to share the screen, the show hits an entirely new level. For now, I’ll be content with watching Mike do Mike things, and Jimmy do Jimmy things. Because at the end of the day, it’s a pleasure to watch ultra-competent people do what they do best.

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