[For Better Call Saul “Bali Ha’i” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Bali Ha’i. Jimmy finds comfort in familiarity; Kim receives a life-changing proposal.
“Bali Ha’i” is a song about finally getting to that perfect place you dreamed about. This episode of the same title revolves around the idea that even that same perfect place can be pretty damn uncomfortable if you don’t feel like you fit in there. The show opens on Jimmy up late at night when he sees the new Davis & Main ad seeking Sandpiper clients. It’s a boring all text ad with a robotic voice and nothing interesting to say. Jimmy seems glum and uncomfortable in his fancy condo. He shoots free throws with all the stupid, wicker balls and baskets the condo provided as decoration. Then Jimmy tries to sleep, examines the takeout containers in his fridge, packs a bag and drives to the nail salon where he’s finally able to sleep on the pullout couch in his back office. It may not be the most comfortable bed but at least Jimmy feels like he belongs there.
The next morning Jimmy leaves a singing message on Kim’s home landline “Bali Ha’i” so we know where the episode title arises. He ends his song saying this concludes his weeklong tour of South Pacific and next he’ll explore The Carpenters catalog. If Kim wants him to stop leaving these messages, Jimmy reminds her, all she has to do is call him back. Kim clearly enjoys the message and even went back after she was ready to leave so that she’d be sure to hear it before going to work. At the office it turns out she’s back on full blown lawyering duty with the Mesa Verde case, although Howard is definitely not pleased about it. In fact, he seems to have an entire plunger up his ass that prevents Howard from engaging in any semblance of warmth or even normalcy with Kim. Next we see her fight in court with articulate grace and style for her Sandpiper clients. It’s a battle Kim can’t possibly win, given the law, but her opposing counsel is impressed with her gusto and asks her out to lunch where he offers her a position at his fancypants firm, S&C. He assures Kim that she’d be on a partner track and even offers to pay off the law school debt she owes HHM. She’d be a free bird.
Then we see Mike arriving home to one of Hector’s guys awaiting him on the porch. He says Hector needs an answer and Mike says it’s “respectfully no” then goes inside. Mike sets up a welcome mat at the front door with carbon and plain white sheets of paper underneath so that anyone entering would leave tracks. Then he returns to the porch to place it on the stoop. That night we see him returning home from work. Mike lifts the welcome mat and sees from the paper and carbon paper underneath that two men entered his house, so he goes in with gun raised and ready. As Mike methodically checks each corner of each room the tension builds, especially given that he doesn’t turn on any lights. Then Mike realizes they’re hiding in the bathroom and sets them up so that when they come out he’s waiting and ready to cold cock them before they see him. He asks what the message is from Hector and they say they were just supposed to scare him. Mike says they’re going to have to work a little harder if they want to scare him next time.
Then we see Mike playing with his granddaughter who’s in the pool but he sees the Salamanca cousins (reprising their roles from Breaking Bad ) the intimidating doublemint mutes. They’re on Mike stakeout from a nearby roof and then when he sees them, one points gun fingers at Kaley. Mike’s face twitches with furled internal fury. In his next scene Mike drives up to a closed Mexicano juice place where Nacho checks him for a wire and then allow him in with a gun. Inside Hector, Tuco’s uncle (bell ringer from Breaking Bad,) waits for him in skull steel-toed boots. Hector says Mike goes to the DA the next day and says Tuco’s gun was his or he gets killed and that’s that. Mike says his price is $50K and he’s not negotiating. After painful silence, guns pointed at Mike, and a comment about the size of his balls, Hector agrees to this. Later that night Nacho brings Mike the $50K and as he’s leaving Mike gives him half the money. Nacho’s like “What the?…” but Mike says he was only able to keep half the deal they made, “Your problem will be out much sooner now because of this,” thus, Nacho deserves half the payout. Honor among thieves strikes again.
Meanwhile Kim ponders the offer from S&C and all we can wonder is why she’s waiting so long to call them about this amazing offer. What is there to think about? She goes to the same bar where she and Jimmy scammed the stockbroker and a man tries to pick her up. She tells this guy, Dale, that her name’s Giselle and takes the drink he offers. Then Kim/Giselle calls Jimmy, who’s under Erin’s watchful schoolmarm gaze at Davis & Main, going over details of the Sandpiper case. When he gets Kim’s call saying she’s found them a new mark Jimmy can’t get in his car to Albuquerque fast enough. It turns out Dale’s an engineer while Jimmy and Kim are “dot.com entrepreneurs” who just happen to be striking it big time right at that moment. They score a big check from the guy that they’ll never cash but serves it’s purpose as an aphrodisiac for them once again. In the morning after their lovefest, Kim tells Jimmy about the job offer at S&C. Like us, he can’t fathom why she doesn’t jump at the chance. What’s not to love? is the refrain. Just as it is with Jimmy’s situation. On the surface everything is perfect; fancy condo, Mercedes, nice office, big paycheck… and yet it’s unsatisfying. Why? Then Jimmy gets in his Mercedes and finally makes that bright yellow, travel coffee mug Kim gave him fit. He takes a crowbar and yanks out the cupholder’s plastic face leaving a nice big spot for his yellow mug that says “World’s 2nd Best Lawyer”.
The theme of not fitting in and dealing with discomfort resonates throughout every scene of the episode. Even Mike experiences it. His first encounter has the surprise he feels when it turns out Kaylee isn’t thrilled about her living arrangements, “But you have a pool!” he can’t imagine how she could be unhappy under that circumstance. Perhaps it’s because this is a guy who can seem comfortable standing his ground with a cadre of drug dealers pointing guns at him. Who wouldn’t love a pool? Indeed, it’s the same sort of question Jimmy and Kim struggle with. Why isn’t the offer from S&C more thrilling to her? It’s everything she’s been wanting… or is it? This episode explores the idea of that other side to “success” where the thrill of chasing the elusive dream has worn off and we’re left with everyday life. Yes, it’s like on “Bali Ha’i” but when that’s the new normal, so what? Perhaps then it’s time to start seeking something else. Something more. But what? Tune in next week to find out.