Every episode this season has a main purpose of bringing Jimmy closer to becoming Saul Goodman, and “Something Beautiful” gave him another big push in that direction. Jimmy is clearly coping with his debilitating feelings of loss and guilt by giving into his bad habits and old lifestyle.
Planning and executing heists gives him a sense of excitement that helps to distract from the intense pain that he would be feeling if he allowed his mind to stop moving for one second. It may be a kind of therapy that works for Jimmy right now, but it’s definitely not going to do him any good in the future and will probably end up damaging his relationship with Kim, which will be the final blow that leads him to become Saul Goodman.
When Kim finally decides to give Jimmy the letter that Chuck wrote to him, he doesn’t react to it the way that anyone mourning a family member normally would. Jimmy reads the letter out loud to Kim, taking bites of his cereal and sips of his coffee after each paragraph completely devoid of emotion, just like he’s reading the morning paper and not a letter from his deceased brother.
This scene beautifully visualizes how extreme Jimmy’s compartmentalization has become by showing Kim breaking down into tears by the end of the letter while Jimmy acts like everything is completely fine. Kim didn’t know Chuck very well, but his letter even made her cry, while Jimmy who was his brother and looked up to Chuck his whole life doesn’t even shed a single tear.
Seeing Jimmy as Saul Goodman in ‘Breaking Bad‘ after seeing him as Jimmy first in ‘Better Call Saul‘ makes it very clear that these are two completely different people. Saul Goodman is a facade that Jimmy puts on to cover what he’s actually feeling, and we’re seeing Jimmy start to build that facade. Instead of mourning his brother, Jimmy steals a figurine from the printer company that he interviewed with to sell for a tidy profit, a choice that Saul Goodman would make and one that Jimmy McGill wouldn’t if he was thinking clearly, which the death of his brother isn’t going to allow him to do.
Jimmy’s behavior isn’t entirely irrational however. The last thing Chuck said to him was that “Jimmy never mattered much to him” and this was after Chuck had gotten Jimmy arrested and put on trial with the intention of getting him disbarred. That was pretty contradictory to Chuck’s letter which said no matter their differences he and Jimmy would always be brothers and would always support each other. Generally, if you really love and support your brother you wouldn’t secretly record them, have them arrested, and then press charges. Jimmy’s reluctance to accept that his brother still loved him at the end or to show any real emotion about his death is understandable, but it’s only going to end up turning him into the person he didn’t want to become in the end.
Jimmy isn’t the only one with problems though. Nacho is in much deeper and life threatening trouble. He’s completely under Gus Fring’s control after he found out that Nacho was responsible for Hector Salamanca’s collapse, and as Walter White found out, that is not a place anyone wants to be.
In “Something Beautiful” Nacho suffered life threatening injuries at Gus’s direction, all as a part of the cover up for the murder of Nacho’s partner that Gus was responsible for. Gus staged a gun fight, making it look like Nacho’s partner had been killed in a hail of bullets with Nacho right next to him barely surviving the attack. It had to look real, so Gus had Nacho shot in the arm and the stomach. That’s just the beginning of the new arrangement Nacho has with Gus, and there’s no telling what Gus will make him do next.
Right now, things aren’t looking good for Nacho, which is tragic in it’s own way. Nacho only brought down Hector to protect his dad. He had no idea of the previous relationship that Gus had with Hector, or that taking Hector out of play would anger Gus. This is an aspect of Gus’s character that is complicated to me.
In ‘Breaking Bad‘ Gus gives a whole speech to Walter White about the importance of protecting and providing for one’s family. He basically convinces Walter to come work for him by saying that he would be providing for his family, and then later when Walt does something he doesn’t like, he threatens to kill Walt and his entire family, including his infant daughter.
Gus acts like he’s a man of honor and has lines that he wouldn’t cross, but as we saw in ‘Breaking Bad‘ he really doesn’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to morality. He doesn’t even bother to find out that Nacho attacked Hector in order to protect his dad, he immediately acts like Nacho personally wronged him and puts him under his control. These instances make it seem that Gus really doesn’t care about family at all, unless it’s beneficial to his interests.
That’s the beauty of the characters that Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have created in ‘Better Call Saul‘ and ‘Breaking Bad.’ They are all incredibly complex and full of contradictions, creating countless layers that can be analyzed and studied.
Jimmy’s journey towards becoming Saul Goodman continues next Monday night with “Talk,” and hopefully more surprise ‘Breaking Bad’ connections like we saw in “Something Beautiful” when Gus went to a meeting with Gale Boetticher at a university chemistry lab. He was having Gale test the purity of some samples of crystal meth he brought him, the highest being 67%.
This scene teased Gale’s eventual role as one of Gus’s cooks (we all know how that turned out) and the appearance of Walter White, who found is way onto Gus’s radar because of the 99% pure meth he became famous for. The appearance of Gale was extremely exciting, and the first step towards connecting to the ‘Breaking Bad’ time period that Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould promised for this season. Hopefully these connections will eventually lead to at least a cameo appearance from Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.
‘Better Call Saul‘ airs Mondays at 8/7c on AMC.