May 19, 2018
Better Call Saul: Kim Rebels (S2 E6 Recap)
The requisite montage comes early. Jimmy is restless, unable to sleep in his soulless corporate apartment. That he’s still there, indicates he hasn’t been fired yet, though perhaps the ax swinging above him is what’s keeping him awake. After checking out his leftover take out and deciding to save his own life by tossing it, he kicks around the rubber band balls – not a euphemism. Like many of us might have done in the days when there was much less to do on the internet, he surfs the old-fashioned way, with a remote. After the chia-pet ad, C-Span, and a station signing off with The Star Spangled Banner – the nostalgia is killing me – he comes across the blue-swirl commercial, or rather an approved reboot, retrofitted for Sandpiper, that’s the same as it ever was. He grabs a suit and heads over to the nail salon to get some shut eye on the pull out couch in his old office-home (which is entirely different from a home-office).
Next we see Kim, brushing her teeth, putting on her work drag, and getting ready for the daily grind. She looks at her phone. (Raise your hand if you remember landlines!) She heads toward the door. She comes back looking at the phone again, waiting. She starts to leave. When the phone rings she comes back, sits on the bed and waits for the message to start. Oh for the days when you could listen to your voice mail live! It’s Jimmy singing Bali Ha’i, from South Pacific. She smiles. She can’t help herself. In fact, she glows, but she doesn’t pick up the phone. He tells her his week long “tour” of South Pacific now complete, next week The Carpenters. He’s just hoping for a call back.
Jimmy is getting dressed when Mrs. Nguyen pushes through the door, probably thinking a someone has broken in to steal her cucumber water. They banter – if by banter you mean she expresses disapproval and annoyance. He cajoles her into filling his coffee mug. Of course the mug – still a metaphor – doesn’t fit into his corporate car, and falls to the floor.
Kim is in her office, still unpacking when Howard comes over. They have to meet Kevin and Paige. It looks like baby is back! But all is not well. As they walk through the hall, Howard is a study in stony silence with anger radiating off his body.
She tells him she didn’t ask Chuck to step in. He doesn’t respond, but as they turn a corner, seconds before they reach the clients, without looking at her, he puts on his game face. The clients will never know they are a less than united front. As long as Paige is still acting like her bestie, and they have Mesa Verde, she at least won’t get fired.
Mike is pulling in, probably from a night shift at the parking garage. One of Hector’s henchman is waiting on his stoop. Hector wants an answer to his proposal. Mike’s answer is a respectful, “no.”
Mike has bought a welcome mat, and some carbon paper. Did they still have carbon paper back in 2002? What’s Mike going to do with it? Your humble recapper researched on the internets, but couldn’t find anything. My guess is you put it under the mat, and then when the bastards feel around for your spare keys, they come up with a hand full of ink. Any other theories are welcome. The mat goes in front of the back door.
Kim goes to court for a brief appearance regarding Sandpiper. She’s the only one from her team. On the opposing side, Schweikart is there, but he’s letting his associate do the talking. The other team wants access to the clients’ medical records. She’s fighting that, tossing around the words “bullying” and “victimization.” The judge tells her he’s inclined to rule against her, but will look over the paperwork. In the hallway, Schweikart tells her she did good work. She points out that she lost. He tells her she was supposed to, but it was a good fight. She accepts his invitation.
He orders a “Moscow Mule” brass cup and all. She, who can’t afford any missteps has an ice-tea – not the Long Island kind. He knows her history at HHM, how she worked her way up. He gets that maybe she’s feeling like her firm doesn’t have her back. He offers her a job – partner track. He’s been watching her since she negotiated that primo offer for the Kettlemans. He sees her and in a different way than either Howard or Chuck ever will. She’ll think about it.
That night, Mike enters his home, knowing someone else got there first. He has his gun out. He turns the TV up real loud, the way an old man would, and waits for them to come out from behind a closed door. When they do, he cold cocks one guy getting him on the ground. He hits the other one too, and has the gun on both.
They were “supposed to scare” him. He tells them to try harder next time. Unfortunately, Hector will. When they leave, he cleans his gun, and his bloody hand. His hand has a tremor. Even Mike is not immune to the ravages of time.
The next day, Kaylee is in the pool, and Pop-pop is watching her. He spots, two figures on a church roof. It’s Hector’s Mexican-assassin nephews, aka The Cousins. Breaking Bad fans can do their happy dance. The taller cousin, lifts a hand, and points an imaginary gun at Kaylee, and then pulls the imaginary trigger. It looks like Mike’s own shaky hand has just been forced, and now we know why years later, when Mike saw them scoping out Walter’s house, he knew exactly who they were.
There’s a shot from above looking down at Kim in her office, reminding us that while it’s better than a dungeon, it’s still a small confined space. Howard’s assistant comes in to lay a shit ton of busy work on her right at lunch time, but Kim walks right past her. She goes back to the restaurant where she had lunch with Schweikart and orders her own Moscow Mule. Some older gent whom she saw putting an attractive younger woman into a car, buys her another. He’s Dale, an engineer. She’s Giselle.
Over at Davis & Main, Jimmy has the Smurfette looking over his shoulder – literally. Even the previously unflappable Omar is off his game.
Jimmy’s cell phone vibrates because in those days phones weren’t smart and people had to talk to each other. He walks away to take the call despite the withering look of the mini-associate. It’s Giselle St Clair telling him she has a live one. He makes an excuse about his grandma who is suffering from oldness and leaves because that’s what you do when you don’t have a shit left to give.
What’s the play? No rich uncle this time. Giselle and Viktor are about to hit it big with an internet start-up – “a dot com” – because apps were not yet a thing. It’s going to be some sort of site where people can hook up on the internet. (Oh man, they should have really gone for it!) They can’t take on any more investors. No, sorry they’re filled up. Really, no. Well if you insist….
Mike has a meet in a closed roadside ice-cream place. Nacho who has to be shitting himself, praying that the old man knows the play, is the one frisking him at the door. Hector is sitting at a table drinking espresso like the old-timey Mafioso he is. The cousins are there too. Nacho tells Hector that Mike’s not wearing a wire, but he does have a gun. Hector doesn’t care about the gun. (How likely was that? Sure this was about Hector demonstrating his power, but really, he lets Mike keep his gun? Yet, the director made it happen so quick, we didn’t question it.)
Mike sits down across from Hector. Hector’s no longer requesting that Mike cop to the gun. He’s giving an order. Mike wants to discuss his payment. Hector tells him that time has passed. Mike says he wants fifty-thousand dollars. Hector reminds him his nephews know where his granddaughter and daughter-in-law live.
Mike reaches for his gun and tells him in that case, neither of them is walking out alive.
We watch Hector doing the mental calculus. Dead Mike won’t keep Hector out of serving a long prison sentence. Dead Mike creates a lot of problems. He agrees.
Later, Mike is home, sleeping in a chair. If ever Pop-pop deserved a rest, it’s now. Nacho is the one who volunteered to bring the money. It was the only way they’d have a chance to talk. Mike takes the money and gives Nacho half of it because Mike knows he screwed up. The “problem” isn’t going to be gone for very long. Mike has a code and this is why we love Mike.
It’s morning. Jimmy and Kim are at her place getting ready for work, and thank goodness they are both at her place! She’s looking at the 10 grand check made out to Ice Station Zebra Associates – because we have yet to reach the quota for Breaking Bad references. It’s just a souvenir. She’s not planning on cashing it. She tells Jimmy about the job offer. He wants to be there to see Howard’s face when she takes it. She’s still not sure, and confesses to remembering Jimmy floating in the pool, and how she pushed him into taking the Davis & Main offer. He tells her he took it because it was the right thing to do, and he finally has stuff – like a car of one color, and he wants her to have stuff too. She still seems a little uncertain, like someone who’s been chasing something for so long, she’s forgotten what the point of it was.
Outside they kiss before going to their separate ways. We see Jimmy’s expression as he heads toward his car: Work is hell, and he was lying to Kim that it worked out. He watches her drive away. He struggles again to get that damn cup to fit. He opens the trunk, takes out a tire iron and destroys the holder, opening up a hole wide enough for his cup. He heads out for another day of petty humiliation and defeat.
Some will say of this episode: We want more bloodshed! Where is the gory violence? Where are the bodies being eaten up in acid filled bathtubs?” And others will say, “Get over it!” Your humble recapper thought it was maybe the best 50-minutes of television series documenting the Sisyphean struggle against the grind of the modern-day professional workplace ever filmed. Some bodies dissolve more slowly than others. It can take years.
Since Mike is going to cop to owning the gun and withholding that information from the police, it looks like he’ll be needing a lawyer. Who’s he gonna call?