Another great episode of ‘Better Call Saul’. At this point, calling the show a pleasant success would be an understatement. After finally seeing Chuck get his comeuppance, the show advances all of its plotlines in episode 6, ‘Off Brand’. The theme of this week’s episode appears to be desperation, blind loyalty and, people breaking bad. All recipes for collateral damage.
The desperate ones. Jimmy suddenly finds himself suspended from practicing law for a year which presents a major threat to his livelihood. Jimmy needs to find a way to keep making enough money to keep up with Kim and her continued trend upwards as a lawyer. True to form, Jimmy refuses to be defeated. He refuses to lose the two people who saved his life, Francesca and Kim. Both women believe in him so blindly and he doesn’t want to let them down. Considering what we know from Breaking Bad, we know that he’s going to break from Kim at some point. The race is on to find out why and how that comes to pass.
Similarly, Chuck finds himself in a desperate panic. His battle to belittle, embarrass and disenfranchise his own brother came at a cost of appearing insane in front off all the people that care about him. Chuck is a already a sad and lonely man. In fact, I’m pretty sure his entire assault on Jimmy stems from his jealousy of his brother. Chuck can’t believe that even with all his success and intellect, he still ends up alone under some tin foils. There’s no way that he doesn’t make another desperate play. He has nothing else to lose.
Much like Chuck, Hector sees the end coming and is desperate to be relevant. He pushes everyone around him to their breaking point to suit his own selfish whims. Desperate to keep up with Gus Fring, Hector pushes Nacho to the brink of a mental breakdown while breaking down himself. His obsession with out hustling Gus has completely clouded his judgment. He can no longer see the forest for the trees. We know it’s only a matter of time before Nacho and Gus fight back.
The next desperate character is Gus. Although he does a very nice job of keeping up the facade that he has everything together, we know that he is motived by the brutal execution of his friend and partner. We also know that he is blinded by his rage towards Hector. Gus has a great opportunity to get rid of Hector once and for all, through Mike, but he refuses because of his desire to make Hector suffer. His desperation eventually will lead to him working with the madman we know as Walter White. In ‘Off Brand’, we are introduced to Lydia; another one of the silent W.W. partners.
Finally, perhaps the most tragic of all the desperate characters, is Mike. Mike is so desperate to have a family that he continues to cling to his dead son’s wife and his granddaughter. His whole reason for being is to be with them. Like Chuck, he is an old man who suddenly finds himself alone in the world. Regardless of any success he might have had in the past, or his various skill set, he desperate wants to have a family and he is blinded by this need. His relationship with his daughter in law is flawed because she seems to be a fragile person who keeps using him to support herself. She just keeps taking and taking from him, and he keeps letting her get away with it. We know that eventually compromises Mike and leads to his execution.
The blind ones. The biggest one is Kim. Jimmy is definitely going to break her heart and bring her ruin; or attempt to. The best case scenario for her is that she or Jimmy ends things before it gets that far, otherwise she is going to be collateral damage. Same goes for Hamlin, Nacho, Chuck’s ex-wife Rebecca and, Mike’s daughter in law. These characters just seem to rely too heavily on unscrupulous characters who happen to also be materially duplicitous. It’s only a matter of time before their “worlds” implode.
Breaking Bad. Finally, we see the two major kingpins in this series, Jimmy and Gus, begin to break bad. Jimmy coonceptualizes the Saul Goodman (‘ts all good) persona while Gus looks towards mass producing and controlling his own elicit drug empire. Both guys are as morally corrupt as we remember.