Better Call Saul: “Nailed” Season 2 Episode 9 Review

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In great seasons of TV shows in this golden age, there’s usually an episode toward the end where all the different threads of the season click into place and the story becomes insanely cohesive just in time to tie everything up (a great example of this from Breaking Bad would be season four’s seminal “Crawl Space”). “Nailed” does that for season two of Better Call Saul.

For a season that has often felt like it was two separate shows, one following Jimmy, the other Mike, it ends up being the little things that bring their arcs into a more apparent parallel. The satisfaction of Mike stealing from the Salamancas and buying a whole bar a round. The look on Jimmy’s face when Kim tells him he got Mesa Verde back after he went through all that trouble to switch the addresses. These moments of not-so-heroic victories for two characters destined to go down a darker path made “Nailed” immediately satisfying. But it’s the way it slowly takes these victories away from them that makes it a brilliant entry in a mostly brilliant season.

For Mike, that means Nacho poking holes in his perceived heroism. Turns out, after leaving the driver unharmed, a good samaritan came to help, only to later be murdered by Hector. Jonathan Banks beautifully sells the deep-rooted guilt that Mike now holds with this knowledge. As Mike evolves into the perfect “fixer” we see in Breaking Bad, it’s fascinating to see him deal so directly with failure. Every other time we’ve seen Mike come up with a scheme as elaborate a filling a hose with nails to take out a truck’s tires, he’s succeeded. On both series, this set up always led to victory for Mike. The shattering of that expectation in such an emotional way is one of the smartest moves Better Call Saul has made yet.

As for Jimmy, with Chuck embarrassed in court for a simple mistake of changing an address, his false victory comes from underestimating how well his brother and his girlfriend know him. Chuck may seem crazy to Howard when he figures out what happened, but Kim knows better. The verbal showdown that’s been brewing since the second episode was well worth the wait. Jimmy, Kim, and Chuck all in a room, juggling each others’ fates through clear acts of desperation. Rhea Seehorn and Michael McKean were fantastic here, with the former taking us through shock, disappointment, anger, acceptance, and her own choice to deceive with mere micro-expressions. McKean, meanwhile, has another episode from this season that showcases his versatility in this role to submit to the Emmys.

Kim is privy to Jimmy’s scheme, but she’s lost too much recently that she’s willing to take this fleeting victory and call it a day. There’s also the sense that she’s fighting for Jimmy to stay out of prison. She silences herself on the matter, disappointed in Jimmy but even more so herself that she’s stuck in this situation. Her first act after Jimmy’s accidental corruption? Making sure he ties up all loose ends.

With Chuck’s assistant getting confirmation from the clerk at the copy place, Jimmy pays him off before Chuck can show up himself. Frustrated by Jimmy’s deceptions, the electricity starts to get to him and he collapses, hitting his head hard on the counter on the way down. Is Jimmy now indirectly responsible for his brother’s death?

For all its nuance and rich character drama, “Nailed” was the best episode of the season (so far). The way Jimmy and Mike’s arc aligned was nothing short of astounding, while the episode also leaves us on a potential game-changer. Better Call Saul has reached its endgame for season two, and we’re getting to see the series’ newfound confidence put into exciting use. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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