TV Review: Better Call Saul (2×4) “Gloves Off”

mike and nacho

Courtesy of AMC

Now that’s more like it. In a show with ten episodes per season like AMC’s Better Call Saul, it only makes sense that episode #4 should be the one where things pick up in a BIG way. Spoilers ahead!

I would argue that “Gloves Off” is, first and foremost, Mike’s episode, much like last season’s “Five-O”; the difference is that this episode is quite a bit of fun. Before we talk Mike, let’s see what Jimmy was up to this week.

Quite a lot too: he’s in deep shit. With Davis & Maine, with Cliff Maine specifically, with all of the partners at Hamlin & McGill and of course, with Kim. The reason? Well in you recall, Jimmy decided to air a secret “tear-jerker” commercial to accrue new elderly Sandpiper clients, the only problem was that he didn’t have permission from Cliff, or from anyone. Seeing Jimmy defend himself showed how truly not sorry he really is, which goes right in line with Jimmy’s mindset of: “anything goes to get the job done.”

It all came back around to bite him, too; while Jimmy didn’t get fired, Howard Hamlin aimed all of his embarrassment regarding the commercial at Kim. They were both on Jimmy’s side, but not anymore. Howard’s furious, and Kim is being forced to review legal documents in the company’s basement (she’s rightfully kim worksangry too). I’m pretty sure their relationship is nearing an end, especially after Jimmy answered her breakup threat with, “So, we’re not done already?”

Hearing Jimmy defend his actions over and over made me see this: the man genuinely doesn’t understand why everyone adheres so closely to rules when they could be more successful bending them. He’s not sorry, and it’s kind of awesome to watch. He’s looking more like “Saul Goodman” by the day!

Let’s not forget Jimmy’s late night confrontation with Chuck at his house, which started off with vitriol – like a punch would be thrown – but when Jimmy saw his brother convulsing in pain from a day of radioactive exposure at the office, he coddled him. When they both woke up the next day, the fight could resume, and boy did it! Jimmy laid it all out on the line: he’d quit the law altogether if Chuck could relinquish Kim’s punishment.jimmy chuck

Chuck didn’t bite, and no agreement was made, but at least neither brother is pretending to respect the other anymore. I’ll be honest: I don’t like Chuck. Sure, I’m sympathizing with the law-bending Jimmy instead, but its only because Chuck has never been proud of anything his brother has accomplished. He has the gall to condemn Jimmy’s entire career, yet still ask for help with groceries and for Jimmy to make him tea. That part especially irked me.

Okay… now onto the good stuff (even though it’s all good stuff). We start the episode seeing Mike icing a nasty black eye, which sets up the ticking time bomb of “when’s he gonna get that?” Soon, it’s revealed that days earlier, Nacho asked him to kill Tuco – his boss – by shooting him in the head. Point blank.

We all know that Tuco isn’t going anywhere until Breaking Bad, so Mike proceeds to silently mull this whole scheme over. He wonders out loud about his escape plan, meets with his gun dealer and finally hears Nacho’s story about just why he needs Tuco gone. The truth? Nacho is very afraid of what Tuco is capable of. Finally, Mike suggests another plan, but we don’t hear it, we see it. gloves off

This scene was lengthy and incredible. It started with
Mike’s precise-but-not-too-severe bump into Tuco’s car. I liked his purposeful flashiness as he “accidentally” showed off a few hundred bucks while ordering Mexican food. Even more, I loved Mike acting like an overconfident, stupid old man, telling Tuco off and causing a fight in the process. It was all so perfectly timed so that the cops arrived right after Tuco started punching. He’ll be in a jail for the next few years.

Let’s talk about Jonathan Banks. Holy crap, this guy is a revelation. He was great in Breaking Bad, but I love seeing him at the forefront of this show. To put it simply, he’s now one of the only actors I can imagine in a scene like this: getting the snot punched out of him yet never letting us doubt, for one second, that he is in complete control of the situation. His final line to Tuco was great, as he broke his little character and said, with a cocky smile, “Is that all you got?”

The question that remains is, like Nacho asks, “Why?” He first offered Mike $50,000 to kill Tuco, but Mike opted to get him locked up for $25,000 instead. I think Mike genuinely didn’t want Nacho to get the raw end of a bad deal that could end up with another cartel head offing him anyway. Maybe it was a bit of foreshadowing to the sympathy that he’ll later show to another young drug dealer, Jesse Pinkman. In this show, with so many criminals (Mike included), I think Mike has honor.

This was the best episode of season 2 yet. I hope they keep up the momentum next week!

Rating: 9.5/10

Some other great moments:

  • The pink heart drawing on the fridge,that Mike’s granddaughter, Kaylee, made for him. Crazy contrast between his two worlds, as he reached past it into the freezer to ice his black eye.
  • Tuco’s “lie-detector” stare. Equal parts uncomfortable, terrifying and hilarious.
  • Jimmy trying to incite a fight with Chuck, yelling, “Come on, Chuck. Roll around in the dirt with me!”
  • The ending: Jimmy is late. Is this the third strike that will get him fired from his new job?

At the arguably-too-young age of three, Jordan saw Star Wars—with all its famous dismemberment—for the first time. From that day on he rejected his Jewish roots to be a full-time Force believer. Jordan, now 20, enjoys playing guitar, singing and recording music (like John Mayer, minus the ego). When he isn’t covering James Taylor songs, he likes seeing and reviewing movies in a non-pretentious fashion. His personal critic-heroes are JeremyJahns and Chris Stuckmann of YouTube fame. He currently attends Chapman University working towards a Film Studies degree, and can’t wait to see where it takes him!