Better Call Saul Season 1 Episode 4 Review: “Hero”

Better Call Saul Season 1 Episode 4 Review: “Hero”

Better Call Saul

This is it. This is what we’ve all been waiting for from Better Call Saul.

“Hero” is the episode in which the show really and finally steps away from the shadow of its predecessor. Before, Better Call Saul felt like it was still finding its footing; it was still trying to grab ahold of whatever the core of the show is. Breaking Bad‘s handhold on the mountain was the secret truth that Walter White was always the man he became. Better Call Saul‘s was the fact that Jimmy is most decidedly not.

The sleaziness of Slippin’ Jimmy was a performance; it was the most meek and least violent way to make 1,500 bucks. He and his partner did it to buy weed and beer and to get by. There was no joy in his success, because it ultimately meant nothing. It’s the reason that bank robbers always talk about one last big score; it’s a pretty brutal business doing what they do to do it for circus peanuts. But Jimmy can’t ever make his big score, because he can’t go through with what it takes to truly go big. The billboard thing feels like that sort of thing, but really it boils down to him climbing a ladder to save a man safely harnessed. There was no danger to this, no risk and no reward. Walter White reaped the monetary rewards because he put everything on the line at all times; Jimmy put nothing up as collateral and so his reward is seven new messages.

Jimmy is not a part of the world that he works in. He is not the sleaziness of the bus bench lawyer and he is not the violence of Gus’s meth empire. He wants to be a lawyer and he wants to help people, and he wants to be better than he believes he actually is. The problem is that Jimmy believes himself to be a scummy, sleazy, criminal; the problem is that nobody else agrees. He lacks the gravitas to be a criminal and the balls to be noble. Jimmy’s in the thorny middle of a fork in the road and there is nowhere for him to go.

But enough about Jimmy. The whole world of the show is fascinating. The Kettlemans (especially Julie Ann Emery as the lady Kettleman) have been really interesting. Kim is my favorite character on the show. Hamlin is really, really good.

Chuck is the most interesting character not named Jimmy or Kim. He’s clearly mentally degrading, clearly hurting and suffering as he deals with his electromagnetic difficulties. But, even with that, he suffers through to get that newspaper that his brother tried to hide from him, because he actually gives a crap. For Chuck, it’d actually be better if he just let it go and let Jimmy ascend. But he is concerned about his brother’s welfare. It’s just him and Kim, and Jimmy keeps pushing those two away, but they keep coming back. They see in Jimmy what he doesn’t see in himself; he believes in the “only guilty people hire him” narrative that the scummy, skeezy Kettlemans have pushed onto him. Chuck and Kim know better, and they want him to be better; not because he can, but because he is worth more than the back of a nail salon and a beef with a local drug lord.

This show is on fire right now. Can’t wait for more.

[Photo via AMC]

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