Better Call Saul 2×05 ‘Rebecca’: Ripples in the pond

BCS 2x05 Cover

There’s a key difference between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, one that involves when they both take place. I don’t mean the specific time frame in which they take place, but rather the point on the “breaking bad” spectrum on which the main character is located. Breaking Bad has Walt cooking meth in the pilot episode, and while he gets “badder” with every season, the pilot episode has him already taking a drastic turn. Better Call Saul doesn’t situate itself at that particular point, instead residing in the nauseating monotony of being beaten down and dragged around by social rules and by the people around you.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

“Rebecca”, more than almost any other episode of Better Call Saul, digs into this point, as we watch Jimmy suffer a minor irritation from what he’s done, only to have Kim suffering much, much more, despite being relatively innocent in the matter. Jimmy is not painted in a positive fashion in this episode, coming across not only as arrogant, but also as ungrateful for what he has. Sure, being at Davis & Main isn’t a walk in the park, and the rules that Jimmy is under are certainly frustrating, but he’s in a good position right now. He’s in a job with a great deal of room for improvement, with a fireplace and windows and a large desk. He even has an assistant. Other lawyers aren’t nearly as lucky, just as Jimmy wasn’t nearly as lucky before he got the job. But it’s easy to forget how lucky you are when you still feel like you’ve been wronged by the system in place around you.

BCS 2x05-2

Source: AMC

We see this in Jimmy’s interactions with Rebecca as well. His charm wins him over with her, even though he doesn’t have any real substance to speak of. It means something that Rebecca is a talented musician and Chuck is a successful lawyer, while Jimmy is just starting in the mail room. Jimmy constantly reaches for more than society deems him able to, and it constantly disrupts the status quo. It’s true that the status quo and social rules keep some people down at the expense of others, but there’s a consequence to breaking those rules. When they’re broken, you don’t always hurt those in power. Sometimes, maybe even most of the time, you hurt those who already have little power, disenfranchising them even further.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

“Rebecca”, more than anything else, focuses on just how badly Kim was hurt by Jimmy’s decision, and how the repercussions expand beyond what Jimmy considers when he doesn’t recognize the social codes he’s breaking. Kim now works in document review, in the basement, well into the night. She has to listen to the interns’ (they looked like interns) music, she has to deal with incessant calls from Jimmy, who wants to “make things right”. She’s living in a nightmare, and wonders if her career is irreparably damaged. There isn’t a real answer to how to get out of it, and when Jimmy suggests suing HH&M for extortion, she laughs at not only the ridiculousness of that idea, but how she could ever have trusted his ideas in the first place. Jimmy is always looking for ways to beat down those who enforce the rules, and Kim realizes the self-serving nature of all of his ideas. Helping Kim isn’t about Kim. It’s about Jimmy.

BCS 2x05-4

Source: AMC

So Kim works and works to try to get a client big enough to dig her out of that hole, and eventually she does. It’s a great client, one that will grab a quarter of a million dollars for the firm, one that will give the firm a ton of business. Kim sees it as her way out. But it’s not. Howard passes her on by, doesn’t really care about the business that she’s stirred up. And it’s not because she didn’t do a good job. It’s because he feels betrayed that she was on Jimmy’s side over hers. And that’s the issue, that Jimmy doesn’t think about how his actions echo out and impact all of the people around him. He sees the rule, he breaks the rule in a way where he thinks he gets away with it, and then he’s surprised that other people are hurt. It’s why Chuck starts to take Kim under his wing. Chuck has been victimized by Jimmy as well, as he knows that Jimmy means well but doesn’t know how to act in the world. Jimmy can’t control being a rebellious guy. And Chuck understands the damage that comes with being associated with Jimmy.

“Rebecca” is a great episode, possibly the best of the season, because it pivots to show the humanity and the heart in all of the supporting characters. It pivots to show just how much damage can be done by neglecting the status quo. It’s like Mike’s attempts to do good by tricking Tuco instead of simply killing him. He thinks he’s crossed the line in a way that works, but leaving Tuco alive drew Hector over to him. One rebellious deed breeds more and more discontent, until one day the weight of Mike’s sins, or the weight of Jimmy’s sins, buries them alive.

So what did you think of “Rebecca”? Do you like the slow burn of the season so far? 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 think this may be the best episode too!

    Loved the extra focus on Kim in this one. She didn’t “break bad” like I expected her to, but I really felt bad for her in this episode and I’m glad that it’s not just the Jimmy McGill show anymore (the increased focus on people other than jimmy and mike really is improving the season).

    My dad complained about how slow moving the episode was (at least until the end with Tio, where he was excited to see what happens next) but this is a different show from breaking bad and walking dead after all.

    I even felt sorry for Chuck! I know past episodes have shown that jimmy is capable of being the bad guy chuck thinks he is (or at least close to it) but in this episode, I really saw chuck’s side of the story with jimmy ruining his father’s business. I still don’t Forgive chuck for what he did but I at least now understand his viewpoint more.

    Loved the reintroduction of Tio and can’t wait to see how that factors into next week (I think the Cousins may be involved, considering the boots in the promo)

    Can’t wait!