[For Better Call Saul “Fifi” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Fifi. Mike aims to settle the score with an enemy; an unexpected opportunity presents itself to Jimmy.
“Fifi” is all about reverence for the old guard. This theme runs through each storyline and ultimately colors the decisions and actions of several characters. Hector represents the old guard of drug gangs and Mike continues to follow him with a watchful eye; taking notes and preparing for a coming onslaught. Jimmy draws upon the old guard to compose a TV commercial for his new firm starring an Air Force veteran from WWII. Of course, because it’s Jimmy he’s not actually from that particular old guard but the guy is old and wears the outfit, so it counts. But the best example of old guard in “Fifi” rests with Chuck. He spouts off about how “boring” and old school his lawyering ways are at HHM but spins it to such effect that he wins the day and serves as hero to Howard. Like many heroes, this sacrifice puts him into physical distress. He represents the old guard of working man, wearing himself down to a bloody nub of nothingness for the sake of his company.
The episode opens with a single continuous shot at the Mexican border. In a suspenseful build of skilled camera work we see trucks crossing into Mexico as they’re dog-searched, lasered with green-lit wands, and inspected by uniformed guards. The camera specifically follows a Regalo Helgado ice cream truck as border guards pull cartons out of the back, check the driver’s ID, and laser all the surfaces. They Xray items from the truck, hand the driver his paperwork, and tell him “OK” so he can drive off with minimal fuss. Later at the side of the road the driver parks and walks into a field where he lifts a rock and removes a gun from underneath. Then Mr. Ragalo Helgado driver pokes his just-finished popsicle stick in some land nearby. It juts out of the dirt next to many twins of the same popsicle stick, like skinny little gravestones with the name of Hector’s ice cream shop written on them.
Then we see Kim and Jimmy at a hot dog place. They strategize how to get Mesa Verde to stay with Kim after she leaves HHM. Jimmy suggests she put the resignation letter on Howard’s desk that very night and then call Mesa Verde first thing in the morning before Howard even gets into the office. Kim says she appreciates the advice but wants to do it her way. In the next scene she gives Howard her resignation and then as she leaves his office hears him calling Mesa Verde. So, they get her call second after she races at top flight speed down the hall to her office. Then at Kim’s lunch with Mesa Verde’s Paige and Kevin she wins them over so that, though the deal isn’t sealed in writing, it seems a sure thing. Afterward she meets Jimmy at an office space that was previously for two dentists. Kim tells Jimmy it looks like she’s got Mesa Verde and after celebrating with high fives, they decide to sign the lease on the dentists office for their location.
Mike remains on stakeout outside of Hector’s ice cream shop just as he was in the last episode. He sees the Regelo Helgado truck pull up, deliver goods, and then leave right before Hector arrives in his signature old school red car and then enters the now-closed shop. Mike takes notes in his notebook. Later he follows Hector’s car and parks nearby as it goes into a carport to be followed soon after by that same Regalo Helgado ice cream truck. Hector waits outside as the garage doors come down. Mike watches with binoculars and is putting together a significant connection as he hears the sound of a drill coming from inside the garage.
Howard comes to Chuck’s house and says they’re losing Mesa Verde to Kim, who left HHM. Howard explains that she’s opening a new firm with Jimmy and Chuck calls Jimmy Svengali, putting a rather sinister namesake on the sweetest brother a guy could ever have. Howard’s big concern, though, is losing Mesa Verde and he needs Chuck’s expertise in banking law. So, Chuck buckles down and says he’s up to the task and will act “normal” for the meeting with Mesa Verde. Lights will stay on. People will keep their phones. He’ll take off his aluminum foil blanket. And, in fact, Chuck shows up and does a smashing job getting Mesa Verde’s attention and holding it. Though he refuses to badmouth Kim, he tells his “old guard story” and points out how they’re a big bank and thus need more resources that only a big firm can give them. He seals the deal for HHM. As Kevin and Paige leave, though, Chuck passes out in Howard’s arms. Luckily the clients don’t see this part and the handshake’s already happened.
Next we see Jimmy on air force base tarmac pushing an elderly veteran around an old fighter plane B29 called “Fifi”. With him are the two film students from UNM who made his controversial ad for Davis & Main. It turns out the old guy dressed as a veteran isn’t really a hero but actually just an old client of Jimmy’s who never paid and thus owes him a favor. Jimmy “directs” the guy while the kids film and Jimmy says things like, “Imagine a bald eagle swooping into frame” and “Red white and blue courses through your veins”. Then Ernesto (Chuck’s assistant) calls and tells Jimmy his brother’s not doing well.
Later that night Jimmy relieves Ernesto of his duty. He sits near sleeping Chuck and sees the boxes of Mesa Verde files piled up nearby. Jimmy flips through some of the files, pulls some out, and heads to Kinkos for old guard document adjustment action. At Kinkos Jimmy makes changes to the documents old school style, Xacto knife, glue stick, and precision copying. It’s hard to tell exactly what he’s doing but one thing’s certain, he changes several crucial addresses. Once back at Chuck’s Jimmy replaces the files he took so that no changes will ever be noticed. Then he falls asleep in the chair next to Chuck. The next afternoon Chuck finally wakes up none the wiser.
In Kim and Jimmy’s final scene of the episode, she tells him she lost Mesa Verde to HHM because of Chuck. Kim asks if he wants to pull out of their deal to share location and costs now that a sizable chunk of income just went flying out the window. He’s totally Jimmy in response, supportive and helpful. “There will be other Mesa Verdes,” he says and he means it. Given what he just spent the night doing at Kinkos, maybe one of them might actually even be Mesa Verde.
Then in Mike’s last scenes of the episode he and Kaley work on a project in his kitchen. The old guard theme arises again when Mike explains to her that he doesn’t have to wear protective eyewear “because grownups get to be stupid,” as he puts goggles on her to teach her how to use a drill. Mike’s helping Kaley put holes in a hose. When Kaley’s mother comes to pick her up Mike tells her he’s making a homemade sprinkler for flowers in the backyard. That night we see Mike sticking nails into the hose holes, so turns out it’s not a sprinkler after all. In fact, it could be some sort of spike strip maybe. Spike strips are also known as traffic spikes and are used for tire deflation, often on unsuspecting vehicles. But no matter what his hose contraption is, Mike’s clearly preparing for a battle and seems to have Hector in his gun sight.
This episode served as a suspense builder in ever storyline so that we’re left wondering what’s going to happen next on all accounts. What does Mike have planned for Hector and his ice cream intrigue? How will Jimmy’s Kinkos caper affect the Mesa Verde case? When can we see Jimmy’s new commercial? And will Chuck ever stop acting like a baked couch potato? We can’t wait for these answers but we’re willing to wait a bit longer, of course, to see the imminent arrival of Saul to the story.