Better Call Saul: Ep. 401 – Smoke
Sins of the past have tentacles into the present when a medical false alarm sends Gene/Jimmy to the hospital. The misuse of a single letter harkens back to the recent struggles between Jimmy and Chuck and the tragic events that closed out last season. The opening moments of Smoke, the Season 4 premiere of Better Call Saul are fantastic. From the searing tension surrounding a health scare and subsequent cab ride to the sadness surrounding the aftermath of the fire that claimed Chuck, Smoke takes scenes from the canvas of life and with few words says so much.
Chuck’s death weighs heavy on Jimmy with copious amounts of guilt and sorrow thrown into the emotional mix. This hits home when Howard makes a call to go over Chuck’s obituary and before he can finish, Jimmy silently walks away from the phone. Was it memories of his brother or Chuck’s impressive list of accomplishments that overwhelmed Jimmy? That remains unanswered but it’s safe to say they both stung the younger McGill.
Jimmy isn’t the only one carrying a load of guilt however. Howard, shortly after Chuck’s funeral confesses that they had some conflict regarding his termination at the firm. The revelation elicits a strange but not entirely unpredictable reaction from Jimmy that stuns not only Howard but Kim as well. With a new scapegoat now uncovered for Chuck’s demise it’s ‘Saul good man’ as far as Jimmy is concerned.
Ambulances and paramedics get a lot of screen time in Smoke. Next up on the stretcher parade is Hector Salamanca, who is suffering from being fed a bogus set of pills courtesy of Nacho. Gus’ ever-keen powers of observation are at peak levels and he’s instantly suspicious. Hector’s stroke inches viewers toward how they came to know him on Breaking Bad and also sets Nacho up for pending storm clouds.
A handsome paycheck from Madrigal forces Mike to reassess his employment opportunities. Leaving his parking attendant duties behind he uses his unique set of skills to case the organization’s weaknesses and then con his way into a better position. The scene not only adds some levity to an otherwise heavy episode but it also showcases Mike’s resourcefulness.
Smoke marks a welcome return to perhaps the best show on television. For those wanting the Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad universes to finally mesh as one you’ll have to wait a bit longer. As it stands things are right where they should be and the connective tissue between the shows, while not entirely in view are there. Sometimes it’s the journey, not the destination that matters so let’s enjoy the ride.