Kim is still in attorney purgatory, which is looking more and more like hell. Jimmy, meanwhile, does himself no favors while continuing to act like a jerk after getting saddled with a second-year associate who is clearly there to ensure that he colors inside the lines. The sweetly romantic duo of the first episode-and-a-half of Better Call Saul, season two, is showing a lot of fractures. Not only does their short-lived love affair seem to be heading off the rails, but their careers are suffering in different but equally terrible ways.
“Rebecca” opens with a younger Chuck and his wife (he had a wife!) Rebecca Bois, she of the music Chuck tries to play earlier in the season, expecting a visit from Chuck’s ne’er-do-well brother, who has begun working in the mail room at HHM. Chuck and Rebecca go over the protocol for dealing with a lout, Chuck being as unlikable and mansplainy as ever to his perfectly capable wife. Jimmy arrives and is loud, and yes a bit loutish, swilling Old Style beer while Chuck and Rebecca drink wine. Jimmy piles on bad lawyer joke after bad lawyer joke until Chuck can barely keep steam from coming out of his ears. And Rebecca is charmed.
Chuck’s animosity toward the brother who is, at his core, a good guy, has been a bit of a mystery, but the dynamic is becoming clearer. Jimmy has a work ethic—Charlie Hustle, right?—and was, up until Chuck’s betrayal last season, not only a loving brother but Chuck’s caretaker. Jimmy’s problem is that people like him, and for Chuck, who has spent an entire lifetime cultivating a bracing unlikability, this is a problem. Even Chuck’s attractive, talented, sophisticated wife finds Jimmy charming. This is too much.
Back in the present, or the 2002, Clifford Main has assigned Jimmy a keeper in the form of the over-eager associate Erin, who has appeared in a couple of other episodes so far this season, in the capacity of “over-eager associate.” We finally get to spend a little time with her and damned if this viewer doesn’t find her upbeat punctiliousness as annoying as Jimmy does. Of course that’s the point—we know that she’s doing the right thing, that she’s here to keep Jimmy in line, for everyone’s benefit, and we are annoyed with her because Jimmy’s way just seems so much more…efficient. See what he did there? Jimmy, again, is a charming guy.
After failing to bribe a clerk with a Beanie Baby—Erin again—Jimmy runs into an old colleague from his public defender days. He has vomit on his lapel and is in awe of the turn Jimmy’s career has taken. Jimmy just wants to get out of there. All of this is meant to show us how Jimmy has been, as Kim tells him in a tense scene, “trying to tank the job since day one.” For all his hustle, for his good natured efforts, Jimmy is primarily concerned with himself, and this isn’t going to end well, but we already knew that. He’s probably taking Kim with him, despite her efforts to stay afloat.
Kim manages to land a big client, Mesa Bank, and is rewarded with exactly nothing. Howard Hamlin, who I thought had partially redeemed himself when it was revealed that Jimmy’s HHM shutout was Chuck’s and not Howard’s doing, is showing himself to be the p**f***** that Jimmy saw in him all along. His treatment of Kim here, too, draws attention to the fact that he seems to have had it in for Kim for quite some time, even before Jimmy and Kim became involved. We do know there is ten years of history before Better Call Saul begins, history largely unseen, history that could explain both why Kim is being treated so badly, and why she so far hasn’t severed all ties with Jimmy.
In any case, Rhea Seehorn is great in the several small sequences that comprise her story arc this episode. Hustling on lunch with her phone and her Post-it Notes, putting in work to gain reprieve from document review, ending in a big get for HHM, and nothing for Kim Wexler. The Gipsy Kings’ “A Mi Manera” (My Way) provides sharp and poignant background to Kim’s failed efforts.
The final two scenes of “Rebecca” are negotiations. Chuck visits Kim during her late-night toil, invites her to have a cup of coffee (which, of course, she has to make) and reveals a tale of Jimmy skimming from the till to the tune of $14,000. Is it true? Does it matter? More importantly, is Chuck extending an olive branch to Kim as a way to assuage any bad feelings he might have about his role in her downfall, or is he genuinely sorry? Or is it just one part of a sinister plan? I don’t know, but I’m not believing the story of Jimmy’s youthful larceny just yet. But then again, it’s probably true.
Finally, Breaking Bad enthusiasts are rewarded with a glimpse of Hector Salamanca, meeting with Mike at a diner to “suggest” that Mike cop to gun charges in order to lighten Tuco’s sentence. It’s not a good time to be Mike Erhmantraut. He’s probably wishing that he’d gone along with Nacho’s original plan—he’d be $25,000 richer and not in this particularly nasty bind.
All of our principals, Jimmy, Mike, Kim find themselves in bad situations in “Rebecca.” Jimmy doesn’t seem to notice, or care, but Kim and Mike have certainly seen better days and are both painfully aware of their respective hard places. Everything’s a bit of a mess right now.
- Jimmy suggests that Kim sue HHM. My notes originally read, “Jimmy’s missing the point,” but is he? After all, things don’t look like they can get much worse for her apart from an outright firing.
- Erin’s hilarious. Technically, she’s so right, and is doing a great job! But, ugh. Can’t blame Jimmy for detesting his pairing with her. And two spaces after a period? Seriously!
- Kim to Jimmy: “You don’t save me. I save me.” There’s something very right about this—are these words prophetic but in some kind of disastrous way? Probably.
- Kim was in doc review following the Kettleman affair. Was she? Are we just learning that now? It seems she has fewer strikes left than I thought.