Thursday, February 26, 2015

(TV) Better Call Saul Season 1 Episode 4 “Hero” TV Review

In “hero” we get to see that Saul is anything but as the episode starts where last week’s episode left off after a short trip down memory lane where we see Saul in his criminal pomp back in Cicero running a con on a mark.

There isn’t much truth to be found in this week’s edition of Better Call Saul but then again, is there ever? We begin the episode with Saul and a partner in crime scamming a mark for beer money and after the opening credits, we hear the bullshit rationalizations from the Kettlemans as to why they stole money and even why they deserve the money in all fairness!!

However Saul’s not exactly BS free as he tries to get the Kettlemans to come home so he can get Nacho off the hook and save his own skin. The Kettlemans however are not so keen on coming back as coming back will make them guilty despite the fact they’re guilty as sin.

The Kettlemans are so determined not to go back or give back the money that they offer Saul a bribe which he rejects, at first.  After refusing the Kettlemans bribe several times, Saul suggests that he can take the money as a retainer to represent them legally. Saul then keys into sales patter selling himself as a better alternative to HHM but is shut down by Mr’s Kettleman with a galling but truthful line when she tells Saul he’s the “kind of lawyer guilty people hire”.

Saul has suffered one gut punch after another with nothing to show for it but in the next scene we see that this time he come out smelling of roses and lot of money. So far, Better Call Saul has been a tale about morally flawed man doing his best to fight his own moral corruption and getting punished for it at every turn but in “hero”, we see Saul become a little less morally conflicted and in the next few scenes bask in the “glory” of his ill-gotten spoils.

But before that we see Saul assert himself after Nacho accuses him of snitching. So far, we’ve seen Saul wear his fear of Nacho for all to see but in “hero” Saul’s disdain for Nacho’s crude methods would have got him caught without his “intervention”. Saul’s disappointed with most things but his pet peeve is inefficient criminals as we saw him castigate the twins for their choice of victim and rakes Nacho over the coals for his crude plan to extort the Kettlemans with brute force.

In the few scenes we see Saul return to his office making a paper trail for his new windfall that day before spending some of his new funds on a new suit and haircut. However, in the next scene we see what his transformation was for as Howard and Kim make a short tip off the highway to reveal a hilariously large advertisement with Saul cut like Howard from the hair to the winning smile promoting his “JMM” firm using the same logo and font as HHM. For all the we’ve learned about Saul so far what has clearly stuck out is his desire to compete with Howard and HHM despite him knowing he’s up against the odds as he is, in his own words, a lemonade stand going up against Wal-Mart.

And like the real Wal-Mart, HHM doesn’t take competition lightly no matter how insignificant it is as we find out when Kim makes a visit to Saul’s office with a cease and desist letter. Kim clearly cares about Saul as she probes him over his motivations in poking Howard and HHM in the eye by cloning his and the firms likeliness. Saul denies it’s personal but we all it’s definitely personal as Howard, through his brother, tried to get him to use another name than his own.

Since then Saul’s been looking for a way to get at Howard and HHM and the ad, placed perfectly in a highway Howard takes to get to work everday, was just another attempt to do it. Despite Kim’s attempts to reason with Saul, Saul remains resolute in his personal war with HHM and Howard in particular Kim (and Saul) knows he can’t win.

In the next scene we see Saul and Howard in front of a judge making their cases with Howard accusing Saul of trademark infringement as he stole the HHM logo and “Hamlindigo blue” font. Saul counters with the fact that he’s being penalized by using his own name by HHM causing a “restraint of trade” and basically cites them as being anti-competitive. However, the judge wasn’t buying it and order Saul to take down the ad.

Despite another setback, we get another montage showing Saul as his best trying to sell a story that frames him as the little upstart being thwarted by a bigger and faceless corporation in HHM. When that clearly doesn’t work, we see Saul resort to what he knows best, the con game.  This time Saul plays a con on the press as he just happens to film a public message attempting to shame HMM and the court that made him take down the billboard as he “saves” a billboard installer who hangs suspended in the air screaming for help before Saul climbs up and pulls him back up.

From the outset of Better Call Saul we’ve seen that Saul has a real talent for deception and “hero” is no different as his con on the press works perfectly as his local TV interview after his “heroic” effort makes it into the HHM boardroom and regional newspapers. He also gets 7 new messages on his answerphone which just might help him deal with his painful anxiety in checking his messages in the future.

However his work isn’t done as he has to hide all evidence of the con away from Chuck who can see through Saul’s bullshit a mile away. Knowing full well the truth will break his brother’s heart; Saul lies through his teeth about his recent success crediting his brother’s sage advice for the turnaround. While pleased with brother’s recent success, it clear that Chuck smells a rat and thanks to an episode induced by his desire to read a local paper, his suspicion are confirmed.

All in all, “Hero” was another solid episode with Bob Odenkirk putting in another great performance.

Till next week!!

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