Better Call Saul: “Hero” Season 1 Episode 4 Review

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With its fourth episode, Better Call Saul is starting to flesh out its world, while also giving us hints at the road from Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman.

From the perspective that Jimmy is the main character of the series, “Hero” wasn’t much different than the episodes that came before it. But simply by giving the supporting players more screentime and dialogue, their characters are starting to feel more alive.

Take Kim Wexler for instance, who just last week seemed like a hard-nosed Carrie Mathison clone. Early in “Hero,” she gets a scene all to herself where she calls Jimmy as a caring friend. Of Better Call Saul‘s main cast, Kim is the only mentally healthy character pulling for Jimmy, which is why she’s so necessary. Kim looks like she can ground this series, which increasingly looks more like a comedy than a drama. The scene she shares with Jimmy in the nail salon was perfect. She knows how to talk to Jimmy to make him listen, but even she can’t control him. If she could, we probably wouldn’t have all that interesting of a show.

Her concern is well-founded, of course, as Jimmy uses money hey took from the Kettleman’s bribe to put up a billboard for his one-man law firm that looks identical to the advertisements for Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. This gives way for Patrick Fabian to stretch his legs as Howard Hamlin, Jimmy’s business rival. For the show’s current status quo, he’s a much more relevant antagonist than Nacho, who seems like he’s only there to remind viewers this is the same world as Breaking Bad. Hamlin can challenge Jimmy, not just threaten him to make him do his bidding. He’s an antagonist Jimmy wants to defeat, which is where this episode gets a lot of its narrative drive from.

The best parts of “Hero” came when Jimmy had to get creative to advertise. After the court tells him to take down the billboard, with it being too similar to his rival’s, Jimmy stages a video that has him seemingly pining for justice as his billboard gets taken down. But then the guy falls off the billboard, hanging there for some hero to go save him. Suddenly, all of Jimmy’s talk about justice goes out the window. Using the Kettleman’s money, he pays off the worker to hand there for Jimmy to save him. This is our first real peek at Jimmy morphing into the Saul we got to know on Breaking Bad.

But where “Hero” could have let us in on Jimmy’s thought process, it leaves us in the dark to watch things play out like a viewer at home watching this unfold on the news. Hamlin sees it for the publicity stunt that it is, but we’re laughing all the way to the bank with Jimmy.

Despite this, the episode ends on a solemn note, as Jimmy is too ashamed of his actions to admit them to his straight-as-a-razor brother. Jimmy is playing a dirty game, something Chuck won’t take well. Watching him go across the street to steal a newspaper Jimmy hid from him was horrifying. Chuck’s health issues go a little farther than originally seen in the pilot. But the fact that Better Call Saul is making us feel for a secondary character like Chuck is a good sign for the future of the series.

“Hero” was the most fun episode since the premiere. It gave Jimmy a great journey to embark on while still keeping him very human. With supporting characters like Kim, Hamlin, and Chuck getting more screentime, Better Call Saul is on the path to greatness. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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