Better Call Saul: Season 2, Episode 6 – Bali Ha'i Review

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★★★★★

It goes without saying that there are spoilers in this review, so don't end up looking like one of Slippin' Jimmy's marks.

Everyone (well, nearly everyone) is lying to themselves in this week's episode. Jimmy, for one, is clearly deeply unhappy under the yoke of Davis & Main. So unhappy, in fact, that he can't sleep. After hours of tossing and turning, trying to distract himself with late night TV infomercials or playing with his balls (the wicker decoration that came with the apartment, get your mind out of the gutter), he's no closer to slumber. So he heads to his old office, that cramped, low-rent place in the back of the Vietnamese nail spa. And there, on what looks like the world's most uncomfortable camp bed, he finally finds the peace he's been seeking.

Kim is also unsettled, though she manages a smile when she receives what appears to be daily voicemail from Jimmy, who has been singing the songs of South Pacific. Today's is Bali Ha'i, which gives the episode its name. On Jimmy's end, as he's finishing the call, he's disturbed by Mrs. Nguyen (Eileen Fogarty), the owner of the spa, who demands to know what he's doing there. She's typically unimpressed by his woes, and only allows him coffee so he'll leave quickly.

As Jimmy struggles once again with the cup holder in his fancy car, Kim has finally been allowed back into an office at HHM. But she's barely had time to start unpacking when Howard asks her to accompany him to see Kevin and Paige, the new clients she helped bring in. On the walk to the conference room, she tries to assure Howard that she didn't ask Chuck McGill to put in a word for her.

Mike, meanwhile, arrives home to find Arturo (Vincent Fuentes) waiting on his front doorstep. Arturo is there with a message from Tio Salamanca: accept the offer of $5,000 to tell the authorities that the gun found after his tussle with Tuco was his and get Tio's nephew a lesser sentence. Mike turns it down. Upon entering his house, he digs out what he's been shopping for – a welcome mat and several packages of carbon paper.

Kim is in court, trying to argue a point in the Sandpiper case, but being thoroughly routed by the company's defence team. Especially since no-one from HHM is there to offer backup. But after the judge delays his decision about opening up Sandpiper client medical records to the defence side, opposing counsel Rick Schweikart (Dennis Boutsikaris) approaches Kim in the hallway. Can he take her to lunch?

As it happens, he wants to offer her a job. After some brief small talk about her time at HHM and an anecdote about an early case of his own that made him want to leave the first law firm that employed him, he starts in with the pitch: they'll pay off her tuition loans at the company and wants to put her on a partner track. She's worried about the ethical issues, but he bats all of her worries aside.

When we check back in with Mike, it's late and he's arrived home. Now we learn the genius reason for the welcome mat and the copy paper: he can see even before entering the house that he's got unexpected visitors. Except Mike clearly did expect them, and he's prepared. He manages to best both men, who were there to scare him. This scene really makes you want to be Mike Ehrmantraut: bad ass.

Still feeling like she's being punished, Kim is loaded down with new documents that she has to read quickly on Howard's orders. So she blows off the assignment to go and sit at the bar of the restaurant where Schweikart took her to lunch.

At the motel where Kaylee and her mother have been staying, Mike is entertaining his granddaughter. She's wondering when they get to go home, but Mike encourages her to enjoy the pool. Until, that is, he spots two suspicious-looking types watching them from a nearby rooftop. It's The Cousins! Yes, another Breaking Bad connection shows up in the shape of Marco and Leonel (Daniel and Luis Moncada). One of the pair makes a gunpoint motion towards Kaylee and a twitchy Mike gets her out of the pool and wraps her tightly in a towel.

After briefly considering calling Schweikart about a job while drinking at the bar, Kim is approached by a guy (Dale) she watched seeing off another woman. He starts to chat her up, and she announces that her name is Giselle... We find out why she picked that familiar name momentarily when she calls Jimmy at Davis & Main. He's swamped with his own work, and Erin is hovering like a prison camp guard in a cheap suit. So when Kim offers him the chance to come and pull a con on Dale, he's out of there at top speed. Upon his arrival in Albuquerque, he and Kim (sorry, Giselle) start their charm routine on poor, unsuspecting Dale, talking about a dating website they're setting up.

Mike heads to a cafe and ice cream parlour, which is silent and almost unoccupied. He's here to meet Tio and, after Salamanca repeats his demand that Mike tell the district attorney that the gun in the Tuco incident was his – and that the $5,000 offer is now unavailable, Mike shows the biggest pair of cojones possible and demands $50,0000. Amazingly, Tio is impressed by this show of guts and actually agrees to the bigger amount.

Later, at home, Mike receives a visit from Nacho, who has volunteered to bring the cash and can't quite believe Mike pulled it off. He's even more surprised when Mike hands him $25,0000, explaining that because he didn't put Tuco away for as long as they hoped for, he owes Nacho the money.

At Kim's she's examining the check that sucker Dale wrote to the fictional Ice Station Zebra Associates. Jimmy emerges from the bathroom – the pair clearly having spent the night again – and asks if she'll cash it, because he knows a guy. But she's going to keep it as a trophy. They get to talking about their jobs again – is she still happy at HHM? She mentions the offer and he asks to be there if and when she tells Howard she's leaving. She's feeling regretful for standing in Jimmy's way earlier, but he puts on a whole song and dance (fortunately without actual singing, which is not his forte,) about how he's pleased with his life at Davis & Main. He's clearly lying. When they part ways, he finally decides to do something about that damned cup holder, and breaks it with a tool so that his big travel mug can finally fit in there. A sign of things to come?

Another slower, deeper dive into character, Bali Ha'i once again seems to focus more on Kim and Mike (and therefore won't please everyone), but the show has done such good work with the main cast that it's a pleasure to follow any of them. Particularly Mike who, when he's not putting his cop smarts to use is just a giant of steady nerves and defiance when the moment calls for it. Even Tio Salamanca can see that, and it earns his respect.

As for Kim and even Jimmy, they're clearly still deluding themselves and each other when it comes to how happy they are working for their respective law firms. Check out how quick they are to ditch work when then chance comes up to run a con? Obviously it's something that they'll have to confront sooner or later, but what will it do to their relationship? Still, the episode (written by Gennifer Hutchison and directed by Michael Slovis) brims with wonderful, small moments that add up to something big. Not many shows would dare to get away with several minutes of Mike cleaning his bloodied weapon after the encounter with the thugs in his house, but Saul has established itself as exactly that sort of show. It's still not for everyone, but when it's this well written, shot and acted, even the in-between moments work.