AMC Presents: Better Call Saul: Season 4, Episode 3: “Something Beautiful”

 

“Something Beautiful,” the third episode in the fourth season of Better Call Saul, lacks both the emotional tug of the first episode and the frenetic action of the second. Don’t mistake that for the episode being lackluster, as it is anything but. Instead, this episode is a very well balanced glimpse into the psychological complexities at play in the lives of its characters. “Something Beautiful” might be a much more subtle episode, but it is easy one of Vince Gilligan’s finer moments.

Not that the episode is without action, though. The episode begins with Mike Ehrmantrout’s  homemade nail barrier being pulled across an empty stretch of desert highway; the production of the scene is so similar to the scene of Mike hijacking the Salamanca truck, it takes at least a minute before one realizes it’s a completely different. Instead, we see that the murder of Arturo at the end of the last episode served a greater purpose—Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) is prepping for war with the Salamanca family, and using Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) as a pawn.  Nacho is shot in order to give the appearance that they have been ambushed by unknown rivals. Nacho is saved by the Salamanca Twins, and it Is treated by the veterinarian/ underground criminal go between, but it is clear Nacho is still in a perilous state. Knowing that he was not in the Breaking Bad world, it is hard to watch him grimace in pain, as one expects the end to be near

Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk), meanwhile, has hatched what he thinks to be a great scheme that he tries to pitch to Mike (Jonathan Banks), who instantly turns it down, and forms Jimmy that it would be his best interest for him to completely forget the get rich quick scheme. We will later see that the advice Mike gave Jimmy was actually very perceptive, and that he was right to object and suggest it was a bad idea. He’s only on screen in this episode for a minute or so, yet it is a very important minute, as we see just how heavy his influence is felt in the Albuquerque crime world. We also get an excellent glimpse into the mind of Gus, thanks to the reintroduction of an important secondary character from Breaking Bad.

Meanwhile, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) as seen “getting back up on that horse” and returning to her work at Mesa Verde, complete with a bright new attitude and a new paralegal. Yet there are truths nagging at her soul, both about what she’s doing in terms of her work and her relationship with Jimmy. Kim’s mental anguish and conflicted feelings about the direction of her life evokes deep sympathy, all the while the viewer finds themselves growing tired of Jimmy’s antics. In the final scene of the episode, Kim has a breakdown, but the viewer is left wondering if it is because she feels a genuine concern and sympathy for her boyfriend, or if it is because she has crossed a moral threshold and realizes she has become like Jimmy. Jimmy, on the other hand, is growing more and more unlikable, engaging in pointlessly risky behavior  simply to make money. He’s always been a hustler, but the charm has worn off, as he transforms  further and further into Saul Goodman.

Of all the Better Call Saul episodes so far, “Something Beautiful” is the first one that truly feels more like an episode of Breaking Bad. To that end, it’s hard to deny the sense of foreboding one feels while watching it; the world of Walter White is definitely on the horizon, and the sense that something big and bad is about to happen is quite palpable. While it may lack the zing of previous episodes,  its subtlety has helped to increase the tension, leaving viewers sensing that the show is approaching critical mass.

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