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.
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