TV Review: Better Call Saul (2×9) “Nailed”

mike trap

Courtesy of AMC

This was my favorite episode so far this season. If you care to find out why, keep reading. Let me say, it’s more than a few reasons. Spoilers ahead!

The picture to the left shows the culmination of Mike’s meticulous planning from last week. At the start of this episode, he pulls off just about the smoothest heist I can imagine. And on Hector Salamanca, no less! Wearing a ski mask and tying up a henchman’s eyes, Mike is able to steal around $250,000 dollars from the cartel.

Mike seems happy when he counts his stolen bills, and even happier when he took a trip to a local bar. High on his heist, he buys everyone in the house a round of drinks, and raises a toast while they all cheer for him. This put a huge smile on my face! Especially because Mike rarely seems to enjoy life like this, let alone feel like a hero. Mike bar

The feeling, as one might expect, is short lived. Later on in the episode, Nacho – who still works for Hector – gives Mike a call. They meet up, and we see that Nacho is pissed; he knows that Mike is the only person who could have pulled off a heist like that and left a surviving witness. Mike sure is cocky when he assures Nacho that they could never be found out, especially because of the extra precautions taken to make sure the henchman never heard his voice or saw his face. He has a point… but then Nacho reveals that there was still a casualty: a good Samaritan found the henchmen, who called Hector Salamanca, who promptly shot the Samaritan in the face.

The smile vanished from Mike’s face at this point. Once again, he chose not to kill – to try to find an easier way out, but it ended up coming back to bite him. In the end, he was an accomplice to murder anyway.

Chuck courtThis episode also saw the dramatic fallout from Jimmy’s recent heist of his own: he changed the addresses on Mesa Verde’s paperwork from “1261” to “1216”. Chuck and Howard arrive at court to get a routine approval for the case, but things take a turn for the uncomfortable when the discrepancy in numbers is brought up. Instead of fessing up to what could have been an honest mistake, Chuck questions the memory of his clients. They become angry with him, the courts delays Mesa Verde and the judge tells Chuck something that he’s likely never heard in his entire professional life: “Next time, double check.” It was tense to watch.

Chuck isn’t about to roll over and let Mesa Verde go back to Kim, so he invites her to his house. Jimmy comes along. In almost no time at all, Chuck lays it all on the table: he knows that Jimmy sabotaged him by falsifying the numbers. “I understand you have a great deal of affection for Jimmy,” he exclaims to Kim, “a great many people do.” Chuck starts to reveal the cracks in his armor here. His whole life, people have been charmed by Jimmy instead of him. All he had was HHM, and Jimmy stealing a client – while understandable in context of their screwed up fraternal relationship – was the straw that broke Chuck’s back. Jimmy and Kim

I was riveted by Kim’s defense of Jimmy. Rhea Seehorn delivers her best performance in the series yet here. Without outright admitting that Jimmy conned him, Kim scolds to Chuck, “You’re the one who made him this way.” She then tells both brothers how sorry she is for them. Interestingly, while the next scene sees Kim punching Jimmy in the arm, they are still together by the episode’s end (and she clearly knows the crimes he’s committed). This made me think, if this conflict couldn’t break them up, can anything?

Everything falls apart for Chuck after this encounter. He desperately attempts to dig up evidence of Jimmy’s crimes by visiting the 24-hour photo copy shop he’d used. But Jimmy wisely covered his tracks with a little bit of bribery. Chuck starts yelling at the store attendant to tell the truth, because unlike his little brother, that’s actually something that matters to him. His hair is disheveled, he strains to stay focused and we keep seeing flashes of Chuck’s perspective: the radioactivity of electronic lights and copiers take their violent toll on him.

Chuck storeSuddenly, he collapses, hitting his head on a table. Hard. Jimmy watches from the street outside, unable (or unwilling) to intervene. Nobody calls the police, which makes me think that Chuck could be dead, like he broke his neck or something. This whole scene – ending in such a feverish climax – was so well executed that while watching, I completely forgot that Breaking Bad ever existed. The story of the McGill brothers has become so well-done and so able to stand on its own.

Overall, this episode was perfect. I can’t think of one single moment I would alter. Jimmy and Mike both screwed up this week, maybe overstepped their boundaries, and got somebody killed because of it. Here’s hoping that next week’s season finale closes this season out with style!

Rating: 10/10

Some other great moments:

  • Jimmy’s commercial shoot at the school (I didn’t even get to mention that!) Trying to convince the staff that they were shooting a documentary about a child from that school who wrote the original Piña Colada song. Hilarious.
  • Also: Jimmy telling the film students, “Hey, you wanna be a film maker? Grow a pair.” Awesome.
  • Chuck responding to Jimmy’s defense, saying “Well, no one ever accused you of being lazy.” Zing.

Check out a preview for next week’s episode here!

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!