Better Call Saul 2×04 ‘Gloves Off’: Apart from the pack

BCS 2x04 Cover
We grow up with these very strict rules about what is moral and what is not.  You can’t punch somebody you don’t like.  You can’t cheat on a test.  You can’t make fun of somebody because of how they look.  But as we grow older, we realize that nothing is black and white, that as we recite these rules they ring false in our ears.  We realize that cheating sometimes rewards the cheater.  We realize that the bully sometimes goes unpunished.  But there’s a moral deficit made in the wake of decisions such as those.  And there’s a question then to be answered: Where is the balance between being moral and immoral, between adherence to social code and breaking social code?

BCS 2x04-1

Source: AMC

Jimmy, in airing the commercial, gets tons and tons of clients.  They call in by the hundreds.  It’s a huge, huge success.  But he never informed the partners of the decision to air the commercial.  And he never thought about the implications that the commercial has on the branding of the law firm.  And he never thought about the implications that the commercial has on the firm’s clients, and on their relationship with other firms.  The issue here is that Jimmy really isn’t thinking about the big picture, just this narrow vision that allows him to break rules and still get by because immediate results are promising.

Source: AMC

Only Jimmy doesn’t think about the big picture not because he had the inability to understand it (which is what Chuck thinks of him), but because he doesn’t want to see the big picture.  He wants to only see enough that supports his version of reality, enough for him to break the rules and still get away with it.  Because seeing the big picture is debilitating, robbing you of any control that you think you have.  And Jimmy needs to feel like he has some semblance of control.  But deluding yourself just makes it more difficult when it all crashes down, which Jimmy understands when Kim is demoted and has to work in the basement of HH&M.

BCS 2x04-3

Source: AMC

The issue here is that Jimmy doesn’t want to understand the full extent of his actions, to the point that he wants Chuck to extort him in order to set things right, promising to help Kim if Jimmy quits being a lawyer.  It’s a great scene, watching Jimmy prod again and again at Chuck, attempting to wear him down to prove that Chuck wants to break the rules too.  Because, deep down, Jimmy realizes that he’s not wired like everybody else, that he wants to be the rulebreaker, and that he’s isolated in the world as a result.  He fails to see the merit in these rules, and his desire to impress the partners with the commercial is his attempt to communicate his vision of the world with somebody else, to prove that his code is just as effective.  But nobody believes that.  And he ends up isolating himself from everybody around him.

BCS 2x04-4

Source: AMC

Mike’s storyline is related to this through the idea of social codes and what he sees as acceptable and unacceptable.  In a criminal world, immorality is the norm, and violence is an acceptable practice.  But Mike doesn’t want to believe that he’s a part of this world, so he devises more moral ways to involve himself in criminal practices.  Instead of killing Tuco like Nacho wanted (which would have inadvertently changed the way that Breaking Bad would have happened), he had Tuco beat his face to a pulp, calling the cops ahead of time in order to have them catch Tuco in the act of committing a felony.  It works, and Tuco goes away, but Nacho doesn’t understand why Mike doesn’t just adhere to the criminal code in front of him?  Why delude yourself to believe that the world around you is something it’s not?

“Gloves Off” is a great way for Better Call Saul to invigorate its narrative with more involved discussion on the nature of social codes, and the consequence of breaking them.  Neither Jimmy nor Mike fit into the worlds they’re a part of, and it keeps them from being able to really be part of a community.  They’re isolated, angry, and want something out of the efforts they provide.  And nothing will come of those efforts, not while they still somewhat subscribe to those social codes.  It’s when they break them altogether that they begin to reap the benefits, even when breaking them altogether is what dooms them in the end.
So what did you think of “Gloves Off”?  Where do you think the narrative is going?  Let me know in the comments!
Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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  • George Liapes

    I thought was great too. I loved how jimmy’s actions have caused him more than just being on thin ice with his boss and I wanted to punch chuck in the face when he and jimmy fought.

    The scenes with mike definitely took the cake. I still have reservations about the inclusion of Tuco, but I am glad that for the most part, the cameos from breaking bad actually contribute to the story and the message they’re trying to make instead of just fan service. Fun fact: Krasy 8 was In this episode too as the man dealing with Tuco and the gun dealer from season 4 was the same one who offered a rifle to Mike.

    Also: it’s Nacho, not Marco.

    Judging from the description for next week’s “Rebecca”, I think Kim will probably do something unethical to try to gain back her position,considering she “pulls out all the stops”

    See you next week!

    • Michael St. Charles

      I like the idea that other characters start to “break bad” themselves, the same way that Skyler started to once she found out what Walt was up to. It shows the way that those with that anti-establishment streak start to expose that part of other people as well.

      Oh, did I say Marco? Derp. Typo.

      And I had no idea those characters were Krazy 8 and the gun dealer, haha. That’s awesome.

      • George Liapes

        Neither did I when it came to Krazy 8 before I found out online, don’t worry.