© 2024 New Hampshire Public Radio

Persons with disabilities who need assistance accessing NHPR's FCC public files, please contact us at publicfile@nhpr.org.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Purchase your Summer Raffle tickets now and you'll be entered into Tuesday's prize of the final $2,000 in gas or electric vehicle charging + car or cash & more!

Pop Culture Advent Calendar, Day 13: Kim Makes Some Calls On 'Better Call Saul'

In "Rebecca" (<em>Better Call Saul</em> S2 E5). Kim (Rhea Seehorn) takes control using only a stairwell, some Post-its, her own steely resolve, and a phone with a generous data plan.
Screencap by NPR
In "Rebecca" (Better Call Saul S2 E5). Kim (Rhea Seehorn) takes control using only a stairwell, some Post-its, her own steely resolve, and a phone with a generous data plan.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

OK, maybe the music choice was a bit on the nose. Maybe.

You have a montage where a character is striving to overcome an obstacle, to make a change, to rescue herself (having just told her less-than-scrupulous boyfriend that she'll be the one saving herself, thank you very much), and you set it to "My Way."

Kind of putting a hat on a hat, there.

So you use the Gypsy Kings' joyous, up-tempo cover of the song, because you want to imbue the montage in question with a sense of hope ... and then, as the montage keeps going and going and going, with something else: a sense of resolve that frays into desperation.

In "Rebecca," the fifth episode of Better Call Saul's second season, the by-the-book lawyer Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), who's been relegated by her firm to the literal and figurative basement, takes it upon herself to secure a new, multi-million-dollar client. Lacking an office, she repairs to an empty, sunlit stairwell. Using color-coded Post-it notes (of course Kim is a color-coder) she makes phone call after phone call to old contacts, networking like mad.

There are a great many wonderful things about this sequence, not least of which is Seehorn's performance. She shows us Kim's drive, her skills, and — as the montage progresses and it becomes clear that those skills may not be enough — the thin, thready pulse of sadness beneath them.

It's also a feat of composition and editing — stylish, even showy, but skillfully constructed to support and deepen the story. (These two dudes at the A.V. Club go deep on those aspects of the sequence.)

She will save herself, of course — but not in that airy glass stairwell. It's not until she descends to the underworld (technically the stairwell that leads to the firm's dank parking garage), that her hard work will pay off.

A returned call. The promise of a meeting. Redemption.

Or at least, the temporary possibility of it. Her firm, and Better Call Saul, have other plans for Kim.

Previous Pop Culture Advent Calendar Entries

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.