Season 4, Episode 8: ‘Coushatta’
As longtime fans of “Better Call Saul” know, everyone in the show gets snookered at one time or another. This includes the show’s longtime fans.
So let’s cut to the end of this flim-flamtastic episode to the switcheroo that blindsided Jimmy every bit as much as us viewers. (Well, me at least.) It turns that Kim is not, in fact, quietly appalled by her paramour’s taste for operating on the wrong side the law. Nor is she getting ready to break up with the guy.
On the contrary, she relished her role in the highly elaborate Huell Babineaux snow job, although relish doesn’t really capture it. All evidence suggests that Ms. Wexler finds swindling a turn on. The victory sex between her and Jimmy is clearly sparked by having negotiated a sweet deal for Huell — who was facing time for assault with a deadly bag of sandwiches — made possible by subterfuge.
She’s breaking bad, right before our eyes. Standing outside a building that may become his new office, Jimmy lists the acts of legal malpractice the two of them just committed, including a couple hundred counts of mail fraud. It’s the preamble to an apology that, we now know, is unnecessary.
“Let’s do it again,” says Kim, with a sultry puff on a cigarette.
What’s great about this twist is that the clues were there in hindsight. In previous seasons, we was her join Jimmy in some small-time cons in a bar, targeting rich and arrogant marks. More recently, Rhea Seehorn gave us a lot of Sphinx-like stares into middle distance as her character grasped Jimmy’s capacity for sleaze. What we took for stoic disapproval was something else.
We were watching Kim figure out how she felt about dipping a toe in the outlaw pool, and it seems that she didn’t know until she was waist deep. Her tastes are evolving. Increasingly, she hates corporate law, and she loves public defender work, especially when it includes “just the right amount of dirty,” to borrow Saul’s descriptions of his own legal style in “Breaking Bad.”
My only reservation about this plot strand: I can’t figure out why Jimmy and Kim risked so much for Huell in the first place. He and Jimmy aren’t particularly close, and Huell didn’t have information that could wreck Jimmy’s career. (Though he sure does now.) Huell wanted to lam it. That was a bad idea, and Jimmy was wise to try to talk him out of it. How that compels Jimmy and Kim to concoct a scheme that could ruin their professional lives is never really explained.
No offense, Huell.
Nacho (Michael Mando) makes an overdue return to the show. His torments continue as his wounds heal. The cartel has sent a minder to keep an eye on the flow of cash, and the guy looks like treachery on legs. He smiles like a lunatic and obnoxiously takes over the kitchen at Hector’s money-drop Mexican restaurant. No good can come of this.
Nacho’s plan to evade the Salamanca-Fring pincers in which he now lives is apparently to scoot off to Canada with his father. A home safe where he stores drug money contains forged identity cards for Manitoba. Apparently, Mr. Vargas has never heard of Mr. Disappear, who will be put to such effective use later by Saul Goodman and Walter White.
On the plus side, Nacho has some pretty cool art in his house.
Sticking with the topic of escape, the German construction crew is granted a night on the town, and its members spend it at a strip club. Predictably, the cocky and puerile Kei gets booted from the club for some very crude interaction with one of the dancers. Less predictably, Warner ends up blabbing about the super lab project to a couple of strangers at a bar. With any luck, Mike’s stern and threatening lecture the next day has scared the man straight.
Hard to imagine it didn’t. But something about Werner’s touching profession of love for his wife seems to me like a setup to mourn the guy’s untimely death. Or maybe that back story was just a feint.
• Jimmy delivers my favorite line of the episode: “Chastity, uh, don’t use swears.”
• Giancarlo Esposito is the greatest and most underused natural resource on television.
• Although we now can picture Kim engaged in all manner of legal chicanery, I still can’t imagine her as the wife-partner of Saul Goodman. Mostly this is about aesthetics. I don’t think Kim could abide Saul’s suits. And go watch some “Breaking Bad,” if you haven’t lately. Mr. Goodman is partial to bawdy talk that veers toward sexual harassment. One example: We can’t print his nickname for Francesca Liddy, his once and future assistant.
• I planned to ask the group what that knickknack in Kim’s desk drawer was — the one that looks like a bronze pine cone. But my editor reminded me that it’s the stopper to a bottle of Zafiro Añejo, a rare (and fictitious) tequila that first appears on “Breaking Bad.” Zafiro has popped up a few times in “Saul”: It’s the expensive liquor Jimmy and Kim conned an obnoxious stockbroker into buying them back in Season 2, and it made a brief appearance last season as the Sandpiper case wound down. As I noted then, it seems to be a harbinger of disaster.
• Two episodes left. If you’d like to predict what’s next in the comments section, please do so while heeding Werner’s words: Use your thinking cap, not your drinking cap.