We always select the narrative that we want to believe, the one that works best to our advantage. Justifying our actions comes from selecting certain pieces of the narrative, looking at ways that we’ve been wronged or ways that the one we’re wronging has affected others. If we looked at the whole narrative, we would see the humanity inherent in people, the reasons that we can’t quite justify our actions. And that would keep us from making the decisions that we want to make, maybe ones that we shouldn’t entirely make.
Part of Kim’s actions come from the narrative that Jimmy is subconsciously feeding her, the notion that she’s unhappy and needs something exciting to subvert the way that people are taking advantage of her. So she leaves HH&M, starts up a private practice with Jimmy, but loses Mesa Verde in the process. When she talks them up at lunch, she does a great job selling that she has something to offer, but it’s nothing compared to the resources and expertise that HH&M has, something that Chuck masterfully sells. Kim may not feel manipulated by Jimmy, but he’s thinking of himself more than he’s thinking of anybody else, and it shows when at the end of the episode, when he works tirelessly to pay Chuck back. More and more, it’s looking like Kim is going to be the collateral damage in Jimmy’s games, and it she’s beginning to see how difficult the road ahead may be.
Chuck’s actions come from the narrative that he’s told himself about Jimmy for as long as he can remember, the notion that Jimmy is only out for himself and just wants to cheat and steal to get ahead. It’s not a narrative that’s entirely wrong, as Jimmy often does play dirty and often does care only about himself, but Chuck has seen Jimmy through the lens of the aggressor for so long that it’s difficult for him to see anything else. He might say that he’s only trying to retain his client, but he goes out of his way to do so, hurting himself in the process. Chuck has always compared himself to Jimmy, seeing himself as the hardworker while Jimmy cheats and steals to get ahead, and instead of seeing how Mesa Verde is Kim’s victory, he sees how Jimmy has stolen the client away from him. Seeing the situation from this perspective keeps him from seeing how damaged Kim is by all of this.
Jimmy, on the other hand, sees Chuck as the aggressor, something that justifies the extent that he goes to sabotage Chuck while he’s sleeping. One thing that this episode communicates throughout its story threads is the extent people go to in order to satisfy their narrative, to put themselves back in control. Jimmy is willing to spend an entire night changing addresses on court documents. Chuck is willing to sacrifice his health to steal a client back from Jimmy and Kim. And Mike is willing to create a makeshift road spike strip (that what that is, right?) to damage Hector’s drug operation. There isn’t any inherent gain to any of that aside from the desire to feel better and to feel in control. Chuck may be vindictive, but Jimmy proves in “Fifi” that he’s just as vindictive when he needs to feel in control.
Better Call Saul continues to show the ways that people construct narratives, trying to feel in control. It also shrouds the end of the season in mystery, as the narrative has swung in so many different directions that it’s hard to see just what is ahead. But one thing is certainly clear: These attempts to gain control are made with one person in mind, everybody else disregarded for the sake of the one. And that can only result in people ending up hurting each other. People are going to end up collateral damage, and even though Better Call Saul is doing a brilliant job at keeping it subtle, the season is building up to the fallout. The only question now is how bad the fallout is going to get.
What did you think of Better Call Saul? Is it getting better and better? Do you think anybody is going to end up collateral damage by the finale? Let me know in the comments!