I know, I spent most of my review for last week’s episode of Better Call Saul talking about the moral divide between Jimmy and Kim. I’m going to do it again. “Piñata” continued this thread this week and has established it as the main thematic plot for both characters this season. Jimmy and Kim have started down very different roads that will make their continued relationship unsustainable. I’m so sad right now. Well, and happy for Kim. Get away from him, Kim.
The Straight and Narrow Path
For the second episode in a row, Better Call Saul used its opening scene to brilliant effect. It focused very much on this moral divide, as we got a flashback to Jimmy and Kim’s glory days in the mailroom at HHM. The sheer amount of information given to the audience about both characters is astounding considering the uneventfulness of the scene.
In fact, if I were to pick one scene perfectly defining both characters, this innocent little opening would be it. Kim Wexler’s drive, intelligence, and moral ambition stand out starkly. So does Jimmy’s dissatisfaction, moral flexibility, and pattern of taking things on to please others. Their reactions to Chuck’s legal victory tells you everything you need to know about both of them. By the way, so does Jimmy’s sudden interest in use of the HHM library.
Turns out Kimmy might have inspired Jimmy’s law career even more than Chuck did.
After last week established what both characters really want for their lives, “Piñata” put their plans into action. Kim’s proposal to head up a banking division at Schweikart and Cokely was a move I could never guess, but it’s a wonderful plot move. Kim would never give up on Mesa Verde. She knows doing so would be career suicide, for one. She is also not the type of person to give up. Time and time again, Kim proves her determination. It’s probably her defining personality trait.
And yet, she was clearly second-guessing a career defined by banking law. Like she told Jimmy, she’s good at public defense work and likes doing it. She wants to make a difference for the common man. Competing determinations pulled at her and I wondered how she would resolve this conflict. Now we know. She’s taking her business over to become a partner for another big law firm.
In the process, she basically killed the dream Jimmy had for their legal futures. I can’t help but wonder if Kim did this with exactly that intent.
As Kim begins down this increasingly rigid moral and ethical path, Jimmy continues straying further from it. The end scene with the three teenagers was the darkest thing we’ve ever seen Jimmy do. He straight up threatened the lives of these kids. I know he had no intent of actually hurting them. If they had surprised him and stood strong, I’m not sure what Jimmy would have done. But that doesn’t change the darkness of the scene. Jimmy crossed over into a type of violent thuggery surpassing anything we’ve seen before.
Kim has to notice Jimmy’s moral decline. She has to be suspicious about his late nights and excuses. There must be some part of her that took her business to Schweikart and Cokely specifically to end Jimmy’s dream of the two of them working together. I think she both wanted a reason to break their future partnership while also inspiring Jimmy to rethink what he wants. I’m not sure she realizes the full extent of Jimmy’s recent schemes, but she has to suspect some of it.
Jimmy, as seen in the opening, tends to follow others down respectable paths by piggybacking off them. He never truly commits. He’s always wandering off to the side and looking for shortcuts. Jimmy took the mailroom job at HHM to please his brother and prove his willingness to “go straight,” then began his law career in order to impress Kim. At no point does he choose a morally or ethically straight path of his own desire. His own desires always distract him, and eventually he wanders off them.
What he never seems to realize is how he holds others back. He makes those he was inspired by stop on their paths to wait for him, or even wander off in search of him. Kim has wandered off her path time and time again to help Jimmy. Multiple times she suffered the consequences. Chuck’s death (and Jimmy’s reaction to it) has seemingly opened her eyes to a truth she was blind to. She now recognizes the truth of Jimmy’s behavior and how she enables him. She recognizes how he has and will hold her back.
Does that mean she wants out of their relationship? Hell no. Again, Kim Wexler gives up on nothing. I think she made the deal with Schweikart and Cokely in order to inspire him anew, or at least make him truly consider what he wants, not what he thinks others want of him. We know the dark path this leads Jimmy down. I wonder what Kim would do if she knew as well.
The moral divide was not exclusive to Jimmy and Kim. Mike has officially linked up with Gus and begun helping him in his criminal enterprises. It’s remarkable how quickly he becomes a trusted, valuable member of Gus’s organization. The superlab is no small project. It sits at the heart of all Gus’s ambitions and plans. That he trusts Mike not only to advise, but basically oversee its construction and protection, says a lot.
While Mike throws himself into the criminal world, however, he continues down his own immoral path dividing him from his daughter-in-law and granddaughter. The therapy outburst created a distance between them that, while in the initial steps of reparation, is still fresh. I imagine that Stacey will start to feel the same change in Mike that Kim feels in Jimmy.
I think we all expect Mike to kill at least one of the German workers brought in to build the superlab. Now that he works for Gus, his inevitable moment of cold ruthlessness must be impending. Better Call Saul certainly established Kai as a goofball who will threaten the project. I expect by the end of the season Mike will have multiple bodies on his hands. At the very least he will have one, and it will solidify the criminal path he takes moving forward.
With the introduction of Stacey and Mike’s determination to help her, combined with what we know about Mike’s financial help in Breaking Bad, the relationship between these two has always fascinated me. Now that Mike is fully in the criminal world, I wonder just what Stacey knows and what she will know moving forward. Des she have any idea of the path Mike takes? Does she approve? Will she suspect and at some point make clear to Mike that she can never know? I don’t think Stacey is stupid, and she’ll notice changes in his behavior.
I expect this will create the same kind of moral divide currently widening between Kim and Jimmy. The difference, of course, being that while Kim is nowhere to be found in Saul Goodman’s life, Stacey and her daughter are very much a part of Mike’s life. Mike will continue visiting them, continue spending time with his granddaughter, and seems to be on friendly terms. What does this mean for Stacey’s knowledge of her father-in-law?
Whatever the case, I hope it means an increased role for Stacey in the show. I love a good thematic parallel, and Kim/Jimmy and Mike/Stacey definitely qualify.
The examination of the moral path has always stood at the center of the shared Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul story. Walter White’s entire story was basically one giant question of how long someone could use moral justifications for decidedly immoral behavior. Better Call Saul has continued down much the same path. We’ve watched both Jimmy and Mike slip further and further into immorality, knowing the dark paths their actions eventually lead them down.
It’s no surprise that moral conflicts have come to the forefront of season 4. All I can hope for is that Kim, Stacey, and all the good people of this show keep their eyes forward while those they love stray off into the bushes.
- I don’t know why, but I thought Jimmy was making something with eggs when he used the juicer for orange juice. Kind of weird how eggs and orange juice looked so similar.
- I went this entire review without mentioning Gus’s amazing, terrifying monologue about the kind of vengeance he wants to take on Hector Salamanca. Giancarlo Esposito is so damn scary when he wants to be. And we know how his story ultimately describes Hector’s life in the coming years.
- Good touch by Mike to include that mini-football field for the German workers. They are Germans, after all.
- Jimmy used the veterinarian again! I love how the vet always asks about the animals. It might seem obvious for even the guy using his vet work to cover for criminal networking to love animals, but I don’t think it was a given.
- It’s interesting how Jimmy visibly grieved his deceased former client more than Chuck. For all his moral and ethical failings, Jimmy does care about his clients. Like Chuck says, he does love people and when tragedy strikes, he will be the loudest and saddest in his grief. Yet he can’t help but repeat his mistakes again.
- We have an uncensored “fuck” on AMC! It finally happened! And from Hamlin of all people. I didn’t expect it from him.
Images Courtesy of AMC
Archie Goes Full Dufresne On Riverdale
After last week’s exciting change of pace, Archie and the gang return to the present time in “Chapter Forty: The Great Escape” and boy, is it a drag (no, not the fun kind).
As Archie’s brilliant escape plan to run in the middle of the day, in plain sight of the guards and other prisoners, is failing miserably, we’re back at the bunker, with Betty catching Jughead and the Serpents playing G&G.
Betty tells Jug everything she’s learned from her mother, while Jughead shares his own discoveries about the game. He insists that G&G somehow reflect the real life, Riverdale’s life specifically. Betty is skeptical, so she decides to deal with feasible suspects aka the Midnight Club for now, while Jughead continues playing in order to get to the Gargoyle King his own way.
After Hiram lets Veronica know about Archie’s unsuccessful escape attempt, she decides to take the matters into her own hands. Through her connections in the, um, teenage filial of the local mafia she unknowingly gets herself invited to the warden’s little fight club. She gets a little private time with Archie and they sorta figure out a possible way to break Archie out.
Meanwhile, Betty recruits Josie, Kevin, and Reggie to discreetly question their parents about the Midnight Club. To their kids’ surprise, Mayor McCoy and ex-Sheriff Keller deny even really knowing each other back in high school, let alone dating, while Reggie gets a black eye for even mentioning G&G to his dad.
Unfortunately, the investigation has to be cut short when Veronica comes to all of her friends for help in getting Archie out of juvie. Betty tries to get Jughead on board, but he’s so cut up in a game that he sees the juvie break as nothing more than a great idea for the Serpents’ next G&G mission.
Speaking of juvie, Archie is granted a fancy meal with the warden, who informs Archiekins it’s also gonna be his last one. “The final meal before the final fight”, he says. Warden Norton also all but says outright its’ Hiram’s order. Archie takes a chance asks to hear how Hiram managed to set him up, and warden complies. When asked if Hiram also “owns” him, warden declares his soul “belongs to no mere mortal”, probably alluding to God… Or someone else.
Back at the speakeasy, Veronica lays out her elaborate escape plan for Archie. Basically, they go in undercover to the fight club, create a diversion with self-created smoke bombs (… I know), Archie escapes through the sewer drain, at the end of which Betty will be waiting for him on the Jug’s motorcycle (that she drives impeccably now, apparently).
Right before Archie starts his final match, he gets stabbed by Joaquin. The latter immediately apologizes and insists the warden said this is the only way he can “ascend”.
It’s game time! Literally and metaphorically. While the gang executes their rescue mission, Jughead and the Serpents are on a G&G quest of their own, that coincidentally mirrors everything the other team is doing. While trying to open the sewer drain grade, Kevin sees Joaquin running for his life through the woods. Kevin decides to follow him and leaves his task to Betty.
Back at the fight club, Archie is up for his match. And his opponent is no other than Mad Dog. Archie tells him about the escape plan, but it seems like Mad Dog has accepted his fate.
Veronica runs into her father at the fight club, but before he can do anything to stop them she, Reggie, and Josie are setting the pan in motion. Their
very slow distraction works and Archie jumps into the drain, while Mad Dog heroically holds off the guards.
At the end of the sewer, Betty meets injured Archie. They race on a bike through the woods to safety, but unfortunately, get caught by the warden and the juvie guards. But PLOT TWIST! It isn’t Archie up on a bike, it’s Kevin. They were a decoy for the guards, while Ronnie and the rest of the crew got Archie to safety at the bunker, where Jughead and the Serpents also just finished their G&G quest.
Tony patches up Archie’s stab wound, and the gang notices the warden has branded Archie with a symbol, similar to those on Ben and Dilton’s backs.
Back at the Lodges, Hermione is going off on Hiram for participating in the underground teen fight club as if she, as a mayor, doesn’t have enough problem to deal with. Veronica arrives just in time for some ass whooping as well.
At Pop’s, Kevin tells Josie and Reggie that he didn’t find Joaquin after all, all while the news of Archie’s escape is heard on the radio. The triple also decides to play G&G by themselves, to find out what their parents, and Betty, don’t tell them about the game.
While watching over Archie at the bunker, Betty and Jug discuss how warden Norton fits into this whole G&G narrative. In the meantime, the warden himself is at his office, getting notified the mayor is here to see him. But unfortunately, they’ll have to reschedule, because the warden just drank the good ol’ cyanide-infused Fresh-Aid.
The episode concludes with Jughead getting back home from the bunker when he finally encounters the Gargoyle King himself.
I honestly don’t have a lot on this one. The episode revolves solely around juvie plot and we all know how I feel about it. The escape sequence is extremely silly, but sticking with Riverdale for so long, nothing fazes me anymore.
My favourite scene was probably Hermione cussing out her dumbass family. Marisol Nichols did some amazing acting, and it was just so pleasant seeing Hermione to blow up like this. In Season 2 her character felt very Stepford wife (but make it mafia), so it’s great to see her getting some of that agency and character back.
The theory that someone of the Lodges is the Gamemaster behind this G&G madness grows stronger this episode. Killing the Red Paladin aka Archie was obviously a part of Warden Norton’s quest, and we know from the warden himself Hiram ordered to get rid of Archie. Or was the warden lying? Also interesting how Hermione was at the juvie when Norton ended his life. Could be nothing, could be something.
Next week, Archie is fugitive on the run, while Jughead discovers a new piece of the G&G puzzle…
Images courtesy of CW
I like my women… competent
Criminal minds is a show that I enjoy watching despite sometimes watching it trough my fingers. It never fails to get my adrenaline going. One of it’s many great traits is the selection and capability of present female characters, be it unsubs or agents. The lead women are versatile and different while still having a few common traits. Furthermore they’re always competent and do the job the best they can.
Emily Prentiss is one of member of the team that was with them from almost the beginning. She went trough all the career steps, finally becoming the team leader.
Her being in charge was one of my favorite story lines. She earned that privilege with exceptional service and field work with various agencies. Her character replaced Aaron Hotchner as unit chief in season 12 after he resigned. It’s wonderful to finally see a woman leading a team; it happens so rarely. She has a great deal of experience with many different cultures as her parents were diplomats. That’s also how she speaks a few different languages, and it’s a skillset that has helped solve quite a few cases.
While on cases, she’ s rarely upset or lets her emotions get in the way, which is one of the reasons why she makes a great unit chief. She is level headed and calm and always factors many different scenarios into her decisions. With that being said she is also quick on her feet and can make split second decisions when she needs to.
While being calm and collected she still empathizes with the victims and their families and doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice herself to protect others. She’s not only a skilled field agent but also an undercover operator, which was shown in her stint catching Ian Doyle. That particular unsub also forces her to fake her own death without informing her team, with JJ and Hotchner being the only exceptions. She eventually reunites with the team in season 7 after the whole Doyle debacle was over.
She isn’t with the BAU the entire time. As previously stated she also work with other agencies like the Interpol. Even if she isn’t always with the team, she is referenced and talked about or pops up for a visit. Her work as unit chief hasn’t always been smooth sailing either. She was reassigned after she pursued a case and went toe to toe with Linda Barnes, who disbanded the team.
Jennifer “JJ” Jareau is the only women on the team with a family. She has two sons with her husband Will, who was a police detective in New Orleans. The fact that JJ is a mother strongly affects the way she acts and responds.
Although she started working when she wasn’t a mom, she always sympathized with the victims and their families the most visibly. Since she started as a police and media liaison, JJ was often responsible for contacting the families of the victims or their loved ones. She always did a great job while consoling them.
Her early role as media liaison made her the “media face” of the bureau, as she often spoke at press conferences. She was also responsible for choosing the cases the team would be working on, so her job came with a lot of responsibility. Her excellent work in that position was the reason for her reassignment and classified assignment. After her comeback in season 7, she made the change to profiler and her responsibilities were taken over by Hotch and Penelope. She is a skilled profiler, as even before she was one she was often crucial to solving cases and did that job even without the title. Her transition was also easier because she observed the team as their liaison.
She was one of the two people to know that Emily didn’t die. As they are close friends. JJ was also the one who met Prentiss in Paris after her “death”.” That close friendship is a recurring theme with the two characters, as Prentiss comes back when Jennifer is missing.
JJ has been trough tough times including the suicide of her older sister, her classified assignment, not to mention the toll the cases take. While she can wear her heart on her sleeve, she is also a skilled operator who will do anything for her family and for the people she loves. As my choice of calling her “the mother” implies, Jennifer is the one who takes care of all the team members. She shares a special bond with Reid, who is the godfather of her son Henry.
Finally, Jennifer is also a great leader, which was showcased when she replaced Emily Prentiss in the role of team leader. Although she has the ability to lead she doesn’t aspire to be the BAU’s chief. She’s content being an SSA.
The first thing that springs to mind when thinking of Penelope Garcia is her relationship with Derek Morgan, well, and her unique personality.
Penelope is a former hacker gone good who’s now a technical analyst. Out of all the Criminal Minds characters, she’s the most colorful one—literally. Garcia often offers comic relief and a sense of light and joy to the intense show, and is the one the audience can probably relate to the most if you exclude her computer knowledge.
She is very emotional and openly shows all of her reactions. It doesn’t surprise anyone that she can’t look at horrific crime scene photos; her office is filled with colorful and cute stuff because of the horror that fills her screens (that’s what Hotch says to Strauss while describing the analyst). She also often speaks a bit too intimately when talking to team members, especially Derek. She gives him nicknames like chocolate thunder, etc, and he, in turn, calls her ‘baby girl’. These would normally be considered sexual harassment (which was even addressed in a funny scene in episode 9×12).
But it never actually crosses that line because they have a mutual understanding that it’s a consensual conversational choice. In fact, Penelope’s special relationship with Morgan is what initially drew me to the show. There is just something in how different they are personality-wise while still being very close to each other and understanding the other perfectly that compelled me. And while my shipper heart never understood why the two never dated, I have to admit that sticking to a platonic relationship between these two was a great move.
She makes him laugh and calls him out on his BS. He grounds her and helps her focus and get the job done. Their close relationship is probably the reason why it took Garcia a long time to warm up to Luke Alvarez, who replaced Morgan after he retired. It was implied that Garcia and Morgan are still in contact despite him not being on the show; she is even the godmother to his son.
As previously stated, Garcia is a skilled computer expert and former hacker. Her work is often crucial to finding the unsub. While that is her primary job, after JJ’s promotion she also became the liaison for the team. A job she shared with Hotch till he retired. The best way to describe her is that Penelope’s character is the counterbalance we need to all the heaviness and seriousness of the show.
Criminal minds proves that we can have a show that perfectly balances it’s male and female characters. It offers us a selection of women who all are intelligent, skilled, competent, educated, professional, and strong while staying human and showing emotions.
Images courtesy of CBS
Tailor Soldier Spy: Black Lightning 2×05
Hello and welcome back to Black Lightning season 2 after one of those weird one-week hiatuses that networks sometimes do!
Last episode, Lynn was struggling to navigate her pure heart clashing against Dr. Jace’s conscience-less one at the ASA; Anissa was vigilante-ing and Thunder and Black Lightning diffused several bombs at a neighborhood clinic; and Jen was imploding under the pressure of house arrest to the point where she finally responded to Kahlil’s messages and met him at Garfield.
This week, our fam is still pretty much in the same boat as they were in the previous episode, but with the sudden devastating addition of Gambi’s supposed death by assassins (presumably sent by Tobias).
The general rule for things like this is that if there’s no body (which in this case there isn’t), the character isn’t dead (see also: Delphine Cormier). But for now, we’re all operating under the assumption that Gambi’s dead, which makes for some heartbreaking crying from the entire Pierce family, including Jefferson who at first won’t believe Gambi’s gone. It’s so sad, y’all.
In her grief, Anissa indulges her central character flaw, aka using Grace/sex with Grace as an emotional crutch. When she shows up at Grace’s apartment, she has all kinds of claims about how she now knows what’s important and Grace is the only person besides her family that she cares about, but in the morning when Grace asks Anissa to look her in the eyes and promise she won’t hurt her again, Anissa can’t do it. Really Anissa? Please stop with this nonsense. I love our bulletproof lesbian but given the way she treats her girlfriends, I would not date her.
Grace, for her part, looks like she’s about to turn into some kind of supernatural being with creepy-crawly skin, which is also something that’s happening to some other Freeland residents such as a skittish boyfriend of one of Anissa’s pregnant patients who turns up dead at the clinic (did I mention Anissa now works there because she can do everything?), and a cop who pulls her over as she drives out to check on said pregnant patient. CREEPY.
Jen, meanwhile, has some particularly great moments this episode, the first being her witty one-sided banter with her online learning program. We also get to see the conversation she and Kahlil had at Garfield, which consisted of both of them quietly lamenting their circumstances. When Kahlil asks her then, and again later in the episode, of she thinks they can fix whatever they have together, Jen is a true Strong Female Character and basically is like, no dude, we get each other on an important level but we cannot be a thing anymore. (Anyway that’s what her facial expression said, I’m pretty sure).
Lynn aka perpetual Black Lightning MVP finds herself tricked into believing Dr. Jace has used Lynn’s amazing brain-power-math to crack a code that will save all the pod kids, but it turns out it will only save half of them and the rest of them die. This is not great for Lynn’s giant heart and after slapping Dr. Jace’s smug face and having her dragged off by security, she is left alone to deal with the mess and be extra sad because yeah, Gambi’s gone too. And because she’s Lynn, she’s also doing all the emotional labor on behalf of Jefferson who is in denial about Gambi until the end of the episode. Someone give this woman a trophy and a massage.
Tobias (I guess we have to talk about him too) is busy being horrible as usual, relentlessly intimidating Kahlil and also blackmailing a councilman into helping advance his agenda to take over Freeland and ultimately kill Black Lightning. So, great. That guy sucks.
That’s it for this week, friends! Do you think Gambi is really dead? Do you think Anissa needs to get her lesbian act together? Do you think Jen will be ok?!?!?! Come back next week and maybe we’ll find out!
Images courtesy of The CW