Summary: Jimmy and Kim get married and they vow to communicate better with each other. Kim patches things up with Mesa Verde after Kevin blames her for what went down by fighting back against him. Jimmy is immediately called by Nacho and goes to meet the imprisoned Lalo who wants out on bail. Jimmy and Kim have sex later and Jimmy tells her about the Lalo case. Meanwhile, Nacho reports to Mike that Lalo has ordered him to be in charge and to burn down a Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant. Mike decides to take a new approach to deal with Lalo and he meets with Jimmy. Gus has a Madrigal meeting and meets with Peter Schuler regarding their plans. He assures him that things will go smoothly. Gus and Nacho work together to burn down one of the restaurants. Jimmy follows Mike's instructions and manages to get Lalo out on bail by bringing up witness tampering by Dave Clark. Howard confronts Jimmy about how he has been getting attacked, Jimmy responds by lashing out at him.
The Good: This was the most united episode the show has had since season 1 outside of "Chicanery". The major storylines all intersected each other and events in one half of the episode ended up directly influencing the other, which was immensely satisfying to watch. Even though Jimmy did join up with the cartel storyline back in "The Guy for This", that episode didn't feel like it was the momentous combination of the Jimmy half and the cartel half of the show. On the other hand, this episode does feel like that combination, and because of that it somehow manages to feel even more significant than last week's fantastic episode.
This episode was doing a whole lot of things. First up, it explored the fallout of two key moments in the previous episode: Kim's proposal of a marriage and Lalo's arrest. The episode wastes no time in jumping right to it. The cold open is a lengthy sequence of Jimmy and Kim's wedding. There's no fanfare, no guests, no honeymoon, not even any rings. It's as cold and rushed as a wedding could possibly be and it is plainly quite awkward. Jimmy and Kim are happy enough, but you can see Jimmy's worries that perhaps this should have been a bigger moment. The fact that Jimmy is only communicating to Kim about her desires on the day of their wedding is telling enough of the problems in their relationship. This wedding is an attempt to rectify that since they have both vowed to tell each other everything going on in their lives, but if they aren't even communicating the day of their wedding, who's to say that they ever will communicate properly? This wedding seems like a horrible idea and even though both Jimmy and Kim are hopeful, it's hard to imagine this ending well. The key tragedy of Kim is that every time we think she's getting closer to finally leaving Jimmy for good, she ends up sinking even deeper with him. It hasn't had any major consequences yet, but now with Jimmy being open to Kim about his newly made cartel connections, there has never been more danger for her.
The other big fallout was from Lalo's arrest. This was such a pivotal moment in the last episode because it completely upended and opened up the Gus vs Lalo conflict in a new way, promising something fresh and unexpected in the continuation of this storyline. And that's exactly what we got here. Lalo's arrest has ramifications on everyone because it didn't end up being a solution. It just changed what the problem is, and now everyone is left scrambling trying to come up with an actual solution. Nacho hoped that he could get out, but Mike immediately shuts down any chance of that happening in the near future once it becomes apparent that Lalo is still a threat. Gus thought that he would soon be able to resume business on the meth lab, but at the end of the episode he finds himself angrily burning down one of his own establishments with Nacho to keep Lalo at bay, taking yet another hefty business loss. And Jimmy is getting it worst of all, as his job to represent Lalo leads him into a whole new conflict that is an absolute joy to explore.
It's fair to say that Jimmy McGill hasn't emerged too much this season. Much of what we have seen is the vile nature of Saul Goodman at work, following nobody's rules but his own with one goal: profit, no matter what he has to do to ensure that he does. But now Jimmy is faced with a serious moral dilemma, one that he hasn't had to face before. He has a massive opportunity to earn more money than he has ever desired, but to do so he has to join up with the cartel, crossing a bridge into dangerous territory he never even imagined he would explore. Saul is more than willing to join forces with Lalo and do this, but Jimmy is very skeptical. We get to see his morality come back in the intimate scene with Kim. Instead of continuing to keep his secrets, he actually opens up to Kim about how Lalo offered him to become a friend of the cartel. Ironically, being pushed further into being Saul Goodman has brought back a little bit of Jimmy to the surface. And unfortunately the two opposing sides of Jimmy make him more unstable than ever. The final few scenes of the episode are outstanding television. We see Jimmy flicking between himself and Saul Goodman at a moment's notice, first in the courtroom, and then later with Howard. His guilt that he feels for Fred's family is contested with his desire to earn Lalo's respect and make a truckload of money for himself. There's a fantastic reflective shot, one of the best shots of the series, that perfectly shows how fragmented Jimmy is with his two personas pulling at him. And it's here, at the worst possible time, that Howard shows up and Jimmy launches an incredible speech on him, the episode's defining moment (see: Best Moment).
Jimmy isn't the only character being explored in meaningful ways. Kim gets a fair amount of development as she deals with the failure of the Acker case. Kevin is understandably angry and shames Kim and Rich for their poor performance, and the meeting ends on uncertain terms. But then Kim does something really surprising. Taking a page out of Jimmy's book, she loses her professionalism and goes back to Kevin's office, telling him how things really are. Rich evidently feels quite awkward about Kim's unprofessional display and is left gaping as Kim rips on Kevin. And yet, the honesty works. Kevin decides to continue with Schweikart & Cokely and Kim gets a taste of the success that Jimmy's methods bring. It's a very interesting development that continues to send Kim further and further away from being a good, ethical lawyer, into something more questionable.
Mike also gets some really good content here. I've been critical on how poorly his early season arc was handled, but this episode resolves some of my biggest issues with his character. In his scene with Stacey we finally get a good reason why Mike decided to join up with Gus, and it makes far more sense than anything else I had thought up. Mike simply decided to stop pitying himself and trying to be righteous. He simply has to do his best with the options he has, and his time spent reflecting at the village in Mexico allowed him to come to this conclusion, deciding that even though Gus' cause may not be the right one, it's the best option that he has. I still feel that this explanation did come too late and that this story could have been told in a much clearer way back in "Dedicado a Max", but this explanation did improve my views on Mike's overall story. Looking back, I can now understand the purpose of Mike's time in the village and it does have more emotional resonance now than it did during my first watch of the episode. Every time I question the writing team's decisions, they always manage to make up for it and I'm left trying to remind myself not to doubt them because there is always a satisfying story being told.
There were plenty of other little things I really liked about this episode. The presentation of this was spectacular and it was the most visually striking episode of the season thus far. I was pleased to see Mike and Jimmy reconnecting again, and Jimmy's response to him on the phone was perfect comedy. The cameo of Peter Schuler was a wonderful addition to the episode that allowed some more insight into the business side of Gus' operation while also hinting even more at his mysterious past in Chile (see: The Unknown). I also loved the callback to Schuler's food tasting that he did in "Breaking Bad". Another really great callback was the mention of Jimmy's two former marriages. Lots of people were theorizing that Kim may become Saul's second ex-wife who was described in "Breaking Bad" as having been caught having sex with Saul's step-dad. Confirming that Kim would be Jimmy's third wife both served as a fun Easter Egg and also gets people to stop thinking about the possibility of such an absurd event happening in the show. Finally, I'm once again wowed by this show's continuity, using minor story beats previously used to play a major role. I would never have imagined Mike's role as Dave Clark to be used in such a big way to get Lalo out on bail, and the pieces slid into place so perfectly in this episode. Little details like this really raise the show to a whole new level.
The Bad: Nothing I would call bad.
The Unknown: What is Gus' relationship with Schuler? What happened between them in Santiago? The show has been giving us more and more teases of Gus' past and I'm starting to think that we may actually learn about what happened in Chile.
Why does Mike want Lalo out of jail? Does he have a plan to take care of him? If so, what is he going to do?
Where is the money that Jimmy has to pick up? I imagine that transporting $7 million would be quite complicated.
Why is Jimmy feeling so much guilt about Fred's family? Does it have something to do with the plan that Mike gave him? What is Jimmy going to do to clear Lalo's name?
Best Moment: Jimmy's encounter with Howard was absolutely fantastic. I'm really glad that the show didn't portray Howard as a fool and that he was able to figure out that Jimmy was the one who was sabotaging his life. It made sense for Howard to confront him to inquire about answers, but you also get the feeling that Howard maybe wanted to help as well, talking about how Jimmy is in pain. But unfortunately, bringing up pain was the worst thing he could have done. Jimmy is frustrated by Howard's ability to have moved past Chuck's death, which already gives him plenty of reason to despise him. But also, Howard is the biggest reminder that Jimmy has of Chuck. So now when he is caught in this vicious moral struggle, the shadow of Chuck is the worst thing he could possibly see. So Jimmy completely lashes out. He is vicious and hateful towards Howard, spitting venomous words at him, even doubling down on blaming him for Chuck's death. This isn't entirely rage directed at Howard though, it's also rage directed at Chuck. He's trying to show superiority over Chuck, embracing his new persona as Saul Goodman and ragefully shouting down at Howard how he has ascended to a whole new level that doesn't need to be held back by any ghosts of his past. The scene is masterfully executed and is a definite highlight of the series for me.
Character of the Episode: Jimmy.
Conclusion: Another absolute cracker of an episode. While this one didn't quite have the emotional intensity of the previous episode, it delivered in other departments, providing us with an outstanding examination of Jimmy's internal conflict while advancing the story in clever new ways that leave you craving for more. This season is firing on all cylinders now.
Summary: In flashbacks, a young Kim refuses to get a ride home from her tardy, drunk mother. In the present, Jimmy works on filming various commercials but Kim comes to him, telling him she changed her mind about their plan. Jimmy is hesitant but relents in the end. However, after humiliating Howard using some hookers he represented, Jimmy decides to go through with it anyways. Kim gets Kevin and Paige to meets with Jimmy to discuss terms, but Jimmy goes against Kim's wishes and shows Kevin commercials that will tarnish the reputation of Mesa Verde and also brings up that he will set up a copyright infringement case against them. Jimmy leaves and Kim and Rich get hard to work in an attempt to fix this. Kevin leaves and meets with Jimmy, Jimmy offers Kevin terms and he accepts. Later, Kim returns home and lashes out at Jimmy for conning her like that. She is prepared to break up, but then suddenly suggests that they get married. Meanwhile, Nacho gives Gus more intel and Gus assigns Nacho to report to Mike from now on. Mike goes back to Lalo's attack at TravelWire and gets Lalo's car to be identified as a prime suspect. He arranges it so Lalo is discovered by the police and is arrested.
The Good: This episode knew how to build intrigue the way "Better Call Saul" does best. We're often treated to scenes of characters working on a project, but we're often missing a few key details to fully understand what they are doing. This episode utilizes that to its fullest effect in the Jimmy/Kim storyline. We start the episode by seeing Jimmy filming various commercials, though we don't know what he plans to do with them or what his approach is to stick it to Mesa Verde. This intrigue is immediately established early in the episode, and it's very important that it is established. Since we know that there needs to be a pay-off down the line, we know not to buy into the idea of Jimmy shutting down the operation just because Kim says so. We know that these commercials have to be shown at some point, and so we can anticipate that Jimmy isn't going to back down. But in this case, it isn't bad to know where the story is going. Knowing that Jimmy isn't going to adhere to Kim's wishes allows the episode to overflow with tension as we wait for Jimmy's game to be revealed and for the inevitable impact that it's going to have on Kim.
Everything boils over at the meeting, which ended up being one of the episode's two incredible scenes. Everything is fine early on, but we are just waiting for the ball to drop. And when it does, it is awesome. The look on Kim's face when Jimmy drops the 4 million on Mesa Verde tells the whole story. Jimmy absolutely dials it up in this episode, embracing Saul Goodman to his very core. He's charismatic, unyielding and a complete asshole throughout the entire sequence. And Kim looks shellshocked when she realizes the storm that she's caught in. She tries to usher Kevin out of the room, but Saul can't be stopped and he says all of the right things to ensure Kevin stays and that he can take complete control of the meetings. Then we get the reveal of what he was working on. The slanderous commercials and Jimmy's "smoking gun" of copyright infringement are tremendous, and the episode lays on how significant this is with expert performances and even better cinematography and editing. The slow zoom on Kevin's face as he festers in his own frustration was such a powerful shot that truly captured how much chaos Saul left in his wake. Kevin's decision to just cut a deal with Saul and end it all was completely understandable, and it was the perfect end to another perfect con.
But while executing a perfect con is enough for Jimmy to be happy, it's nowhere near enough for the flabbergasted Kim, who looks like she has been through a trauma by the episode's end. She returns home to Jimmy, horrified and confused by what just happened. For the second time, Jimmy played her and unlike the last time, this one was intentional. Jimmy's moral flexibility has gradually gotten worse and worse as the show has gone on and now Kim gets to see firsthand that the man she loves is never going to fix this. He has been spiraling rapidly ever since Chuck's death and now he has taken it too far. So Kim lashes out hard at the end of the episode, having had enough of Jimmy's lies and deceptions, having had enough of this relationship that has done nothing food for her. She seems like she is ready to storm away from him no matter what he says to her, the same way she refused to get into the car with her mother at the start of the episode. But there's just something about this relationship. Something that makes it so Kim just can't walk away, no matter how many reasons she has to do so. And so when she tries to put her foot down, she says something completely unexpected that causes the story to make a complete u-turn. What if she and Jimmy get married?
What makes this episode's story so damn effective is how the characters don't have to spell out their motives to us. There are so many ways to interpret the scenes in this episode (especially that stunning final line) and that's shown by how many unique takes there are on this episode. It's an episode that is open for interpretation which allows it to have extra depth that other episodes of the show don't have. all of thsi combined, the unpredictability, emotion, suspense and deep character development ensure that this is one of the show's finest episodes, one that will have a profound impact on the story as a whole.
And I haven't even talked about the other subplots in the episode yet. First up is Jimmy's continued sabotage of Howard. These scenes manage to be both hilarious and hard to watch. It's funny because the ideas that Jimmy cooks up to attack Howard are excellent, and sending some hookers to meet him in order to embarrass him and hurt his reputation is a hilarious idea. Even funnier is when we see him relishing what he's done to Howard. But it's still hard to watch. It's painful because this petty asshole is not who Jimmy is supposed to be. Jimmy is a con man, but this outright unnecessary sabotage is pure Saul Goodman. Howard doesn't deserve to have this happen to him, but Jimmy does it anyways. It's certainly one of the worst things he has done in the whole series, up there with the stunt he pulled with poor Irene back in "Fall". And the episode clearly paints to us that the glee he got out of conning Howard here was one of the deciding factors to him choosing to go through with the Mesa Verde plan anyways. Jimmy can be a good man, but whenever he dips his toes into the sweet illegal territory, he just can't help himself.
Lastly, we get to the Mike storyline where there are some very big happenings. For one, Mike is reunited with Nacho, finally giving Nacho a little glimmer of hope. With Mike's help, he does have a genuine chance to escape, and I'm excited to see what will come of their alliance. The rest of the episode focuses on Mike's plan to get Lalo arrested, which was another big twist that completely reshapes the direction of this season. I've been critical of Mike's storyline (see: The Bad), but he is always at his best whenever he has a job to work on. It's a blast seeing Mike pose as a private investigator, worker in the police office, and even as a police officer himself in order to secure Lalo's arrest. Furthermore, I absolutely love that the logistics that brought Lalo down were his irrational actions back in "Winner". I was harsh on Lalo's chaotic actions in my review of "Winner" (an episode I actually love even more now) because I thought that they were small instances of sloppy writing. But I'm extremely impressed that Lalo's actions ended up bouncing back on him, and it was these reckless maneuvers that have resulted in him being taken off the streets. This was such intelligent writing, and it made the story much more satisfying than it had any right to be.
The cameos from detective Tim Roberts from "Breaking Bad" and Cliff Main were very welcome.
The Bad: Mike's character arc in the first 5 episodes of this season ended up being quite the disappointment. This episode feels like it jumped ahead to a point where Mike is now loyal to Gus without actually giving us any good reason for him to actually be loyal to him. It makes Nacho's comments about why Mike is working for him feel like they hit the mark. We're supposed to believe that Mike has good reason to work for Gus, but we aren't given anything more than revenge. I'm disappointed that there wasn't more to Mike's journey towards working for Gus, and I honestly think that showing Mike spiraling downwards was a waste of time that could have been used to develop their relationship more.
The Unknown: Why did Kim suggest getting married? Is it because she can't bring herself to end their relationship and has resigned to sticking by him? Or are there more reasons for this?
What happens now that Lalo is busted? Will the Salamancas send more men into America? Will Lalo go to Jimmy in an attempt to free himself?
Best Moment: It's a real toss-up between the meeting scene and Kim's outburst at the end of the episode. I think I'll go with Kim's outburst because that ending was so unexpected, but both scenes were equally fantastic in my eyes.
Character of the Episode: Kim, though Jimmy is a very close second.
Conclusion: What a wonderful episode. This was exciting and emotional, and completely changed the direction of the show multiple times with some spectacular twists. I'm genuinely unsure how the story will proceed from here, and the uncertainty really excited me. This is a game-changer of an episode to throw out halfway through a season, and I really appreciate the ambition for the writers to do something like this.
Summary: Jimmy starts putting legal roadblocks on the eviction of Acker, frustrating Kevin who simply wants to get the place torn down. Kim lets him know that Jimmy is working for Acker but Kevin refuses to take her off the case. Kim tries to get him to consider relocation, but Kevin is too stubborn and the plan backfires. Kim decides to take things a step further and gets Jimmy to find someone to investigate Kevin's personal life. While working on the investigation, Rich visits Kim and reveals that he suspects that she is up to something. Caught off guard by this, Kim lashes out at Rich. Meanwhile, Mike stays at the small village and recovers, helping the old lady taking care of him. Gus eventually comes by to visit and they speak. Gus asks Mike to work with him, using Mike's understanding of revenge as a motive.
The Good: This is a very focused episode, only cutting between two storylines: Jimmy and Kim's attempt to get Mesa Verde to relocate and Mike's stay at the Mexican village. Both storylines are similar in how they get the central characters, Kim and Mike, to make some critical decisions that will have a huge impact on their futures.
Kim's story is easily the highlight of the episode. Kim has been one of the biggest dramatic hooks in the series since we are completely unaware of what awaits her in the future, and we can only hope that it isn't anything too bad. But she always seems to be at risk for something going wrong, and it usually seems to be Jimmy's fault. But now things are quite different. This hole that Kim finds herself in is entirely of her making. She didn't need to work against Mesa Verde but she chose to do it anyways, and now when faced with every opportunity to stop, she continues to push it further and further. Kim is risking so much for such little reward and it's scary to watch her make what could be a series of fatal mistakes that may cost her the career she has worked so hard to build. This episode builds up that tension so well as Kim continues to make bad choice after bad choice, and it all culminates in horrifying fashion when Kim learns that her boss has not been fooled by Kim's plan. Bubbling with fear and anxiety, she explodes at him in front of everyone, leaving her poised in a very uncomfortable position heading into the next episode.
Where the episode works so well is that is makes us understand why Kim is making these horrible decisions. We know that she empathizes with Acker and doesn't really care much for Kevin, so emotionally she wants Acker to have some sort of victory. But she is stuck representing the wrong side. Realizing how far she is from the job she wanted to do (representing the little guy) is soul-crushing for her, so even if she isn't aware of it herself, it's clear that a part of Kim is trying to tank her own career to punish herself for joining up with the rich and ignoring the poor. She has betrayed her own morals already, and that's why she now finds it so easy to bend the rules and break some laws in this episode. For once it isn't Jimmy that's making the choice to cross the line, it's Kim. And it's all because she regrets all the decisions she has made to come this far. It's tragic, it's relatable and it's scary to watch. We can only hope for the best for Kim, but with her current mindset she seems well on her way towards tragedy.
The episode had a lot of humour as well which I appreciated. It's always a joy to see Jimmy and Kim at work on a con. We never really know what Jimmy is planning, but seeing the results of his schemes is always a blast. His escalating stunts to fight off the construction crew were hilarious with some really absurd jokes. The imitation scene was brilliant and it nicely displayed how much closer together Jimmy and Kim always are whenever they are working a con. Lastly, Mr. X's cameo was an excellent piece of comedy, and a welcome return of a character we last saw in "Pimento".
Lastly we get to Mike's storyline, which is pretty solid. This isolation is exactly what Mike needs to get over his self-pity and start returning to the man he is supposed to be. Following a nice cameo from Dr. Goodman, Mike is forced to accept that he can't go anywhere and he is annoyed by this. Being as stubborn as he is, the fact that he is being taken care of by somebody else is frustrating for him and he makes every attempt to find a way out before settling in. When he settles in, we see him acting like himself again. He helps the lady taking care of him and keeps him self busy doing handyman jobs, and all seems fine. Then Gus arrives and we can see the rage on Mike's face when he hears his voice. Mike doesn't respect Gus at all. To Mike, Gus is simply a business associate, a man he doesn't even like. Their relationship is quite far from what we see in "Breaking Bad". The final scene of the episode gives us a hint of how they will end up making peace. Gus once again shows a deeper side to him by revealing that he funds this village as a memorial to Max. I can only imagine that Max had a desire to help the poor, having been poor himself and Gus is keeping Max's dream alive by donating to this village. Of course he doesn't explicitly say any of this to Mike (see: The Bad), but it's a nice touch to his character. The final moment of the episode shows us what I can presume is the reason why Mike joins up with Gus and it makes sense. Mike has been motivated by revenge for much of the series (revenge against Matty's killer and against Hector) so he will understand Gus' plight.
The Bad: Unfortunately I feel like Mike's story didn't quite work. This episode was the perfect opportunity to stage a transformational arc for Mike to make us understand why he would join Gus and to make us emotionally invested in their relationship. But the episode just didn't commit enough to do that. What we got was a simplistic story that works well enough. But considering the standards that this show sets, that is nowhere near enough. The problem is that we don't have enough context for why either character would trust the other. Mike can understand revenge, but is that really enough for him to set everything aside and go back to working for Gus, the man whose work lead to Mike having to kill Werner. And why does Gus care so much about Mike anyways? We need to know more about these two characters to make this relationship work. If this scene is just the start of their relationship, I suppose it's fine. But the way the scene is presented, it feels like this is supposed to be the big moment where Mike chooses to work for Gus, and I just don't buy it. I think that it would have been better had Gus been more open to Mike about his past and who he really is. That could have helped build a bond between them, but the show is far too interested in keeping Gus mysterious which I feel isn't necessary at this point in the story. In the end, I'm left very disappointed by Mike's story in this episode since it should have been so much more powerful than what we got.
The Unknown: Would Stacey really be okay with Mike suddenly vanishing like that? Presumably it has been a few days since she last saw him.
What did Kim discover that gave her hope for framing Kevin? Is it something to do with copyright infringement involving the Mesa Verde logo?
Now that Rich knows about Kim's schemes, what is he going to do about it? What is Kim going to do? Is she going to try to back out or will she keep on recklessly trying to save Acker?
Best Moment: Kim lashing out at Rich in front of the whole firm for telling her his suspicions was a brutally tense scene to watch. I'm afraid for Kim and I can tell that she's afraid for herself in this scene, having to directly face how unethical and self-destructive her actions have been.
Character of the Episode: Kim.
Conclusion: The idea of running two parallel character stories was excellent and it should have resulted in one of the show's better episodes. But this ended up being another middle of the road episode due to the drastic difference of quality between both stories. Kim's story was fantastic, with some of the season's best content, but the Mike story was disappointing. Hopefully it's just a fluke and the rest of this season can deliver much stronger content.
Summary: Kim resolves to fix Acker's situation and makes a proposition to Kevin and Paige but they decline. Unwilling to give up, Kim approaches Jimmy, who has been using increasingly unethical actions, with a proposition. Jimmy had a meeting with Howard who gives him an offer to work at HHM. Jimmy is pretty unwilling to join HHM and immediately accepts Kim's offer. Jimmy becomes Acker's representative to fight against Mesa Verde. Jimmy goes to Howard's house and throws bowling balls onto his car. The DEA watch over Gus' dead drops and capture 3 guys and $700,000. Gus falls victim to anxiety as he awaits a response from Victor signifying that the plan was a success and nobody too major was busted. Mike tries to reconcile with Stacey and is unsuccessful. He provokes the gang people again and is beaten up and stabbed. He later wakes up at an unknown location likely in Mexico, having been saved.
The Good: This was another strong episode of character exploration that gave the characters genuine conflicts to deal with and made this season's central storylines become a little more clear. A great example of this is the Jimmy/Howard storyline that is told throughout the episode. It's telling of this whole conflict that the first thing we see during the scene where Jimmy meets with Howard is Jimmy toying with the ring he got from Marco. As ever, Jimmy is trying to balance out his inner conflict of the good lawyer vs the con man. We haven't seen this uncertainty from Jimmy this season, but now it emerges as Jimmy likely has a good idea of what Howard has to say and remembers how all he ever wanted back in season 1 was to just work with HHM. But it only stays for a brief moment. Pretty quickly, Jimmy ends up distancing himself from Howard during their discussion. He's unnerved by Howard being the same egotistical businessman as before, especially considering how much he has changed as a person since Chuck's death. Not only does Howard's offer to work at HHM clash with Jimmy's desire to play Saul Goodman at court, but the essence of how Howard has returned to normal clashes with Jimmy's unorthodox method of moving on where he became an entirely new person. For Jimmy, Howard represents one final chance for him to stay Jimmy McGill, get over his problems, and to achieve everything he could have dreamed of back in season 1. But Jimmy rejects all of what Howard stands for by the end of the episode where he gleefully throws bowling balls at Howard's car (set up by a wonderful cold open that builds mystery in a classic "Better Call Saul" way).
It has been an absolute joy to see Saul in action. It looks like Jimmy's dealings with Lalo and Nacho in the last episode actually had a very positive effect on his mind. He dipped his toes into the criminal underworld, had a heavy payday, and he wants to succeed like that again. The way he manipulates the two junkies early in the episode is superb, proving that he isn't above sacrificing his own clients to get more money. His ethical values are all but gone, as we see once more in the courtroom where he uses underhanded tactics to get a mistrial. Jimmy enjoys doing this more than anything, and he's becoming more and more destructive than ever, especially with how he commits wholeheartedly to his new life as Saul.
And as always, Kim can't seem to escape Jimmy's destructive nature. Once again, we see Kim turning back to Jimmy's sly methods in an attempt to help one of her clients. It's a horrible thing to see because Kim is risking her career in a big way by conning Mesa Verde, one of her own clients, in an attempt to help Acker, something that she feels she has to do. Now there isn't anything wrong with Kim wanting to help Acker, knowing how much she relates with "the little guy". But going to Jimmy seems like a huge mistake. She's expecting to face up against Jimmy in this case, but she's going to get Saul Goodman which won't be good. This episode emphasizes a fundamental difference between Jimmy and Kim. Jimmy is happy to make a mess without any regard to whoever is left to face the heat or clean it up. But Kim does care about the consequences of her actions, and I get the sense that this fundamental difference between both of them will lead to a lot of conflict. It's only a matter of time before Jimmy takes things too far in this case, and I'm very afraid about the blow-back that this will have on Kim.
The stuff with Gus was also very impressive. Gus has gotten some development throughout the show, but it hasn't been anything that we couldn't have already guessed about him. But here we get a new insight on his behaviour, as he sits at his desk, brimming with anxiety and taking it out on poor Lyle, who is left scrubbing the fryers for a man who will never be satisfied. Gus has almost always been in control when we have seen him. But here is one of the very few times where Gus' fate rests on the actions of others, and the idea of not being in control eats him alive. It's a wonderful bit of development that is subtly included, and wonderfully edited into the episode as we intercut between the DEA's operation and Lyle scrubbing. The inclusion of Hank and Gomez was pretty fun as well. They played a specific role in the story, so their inclusion certainly wasn't just fanservice. But we also got a nice tie-in to "Breaking Bad" as we see the over-the-top Hank providing a rousing speech after being disappointed that he hasn't yet busted the guy that we know he ultimately will. It felt like a conclusion for Hank and I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't appear again in the series.
Mike's story was very curious in this episode. His story continued naturally as he fell further into grief and self-loathing. In this episode we see him get rejected by his family, and having no motivation to do anything else, he purposefully looks for a fight so he can get beaten up and punished for what he has done. Mike has hit a new low and looks like he is ready to die for all he has done. But the ending of the episode provides a very interesting twist with Mike waking up in an undisclosed location, having been saved by somebody unknown. This is a good cliffhanger that provides an intriguing mystery. I'm intrigued to find out who has Mike and how they will help Mike get back to working for Gus.
The Bad: There's nothing bad about this. But one thing I have to note is that despite this season being very enjoyable so far, it hasn't succeeded in engaging my emotions to the next level in ways that the show has done before. Usually the show has turned some pretty ordinary episodes into something terrific by providing some outstanding scenes ("Slip" and "Breathe" are good examples) or by emotionally engaging me into a character's plight ("Rebecca" and "Quite a Ride"). This season hasn't quite hit that level yet. I'm sure it will in future episodes, but it's worth noting that these early episodes have been missing that spark.
The Unknown: How will Gus' anxiety be explored in future episodes? Will he somehow overcome this flaw before "Breaking Bad"?
Where is Mike? The way the scene is shot suggests Mexico to me. What happened to him at the end of the episode? Who saved him from the beating he was taking? Was Gus watching him? Was it Lalo who was absent this week? Or was it somebody else entirely?
Best Moment: Jimmy and Howard's meeting was wonderfully well done. The acting was top-tier and the scene brilliantly conveyed both Jimmy's conflict and Howard's transformation.
Character of the Episode: Jimmy.
Conclusion: There's no better show on television right now at exploring inner conflict. Not a whole lot happens in this episode, but there is some stunning character exploration as the season makes some very important moves towards setting up its climax. The first 4 episodes haven't been the show at its absolute best, but they have laid very important groundwork in a wildly entertaining way. This season has started very well.
Summary: Nacho takes Jimmy to meet Lalo. Lalo recruits him to help with Domingo's arrest. Jimmy meets with Domingo who is questioned by Hank and Gomez. Jimmy forms a plan with Domingo who ends up giving Hank and Gomez the location of Gus' dead drops, moving Lalo's plan forwards. Jimmy tells Lalo and Nacho that he doesn't want to do more work with them but he finds himself trapped in their business. Nacho tries to buy out his dad's shop to get him to leave town. However, his father sees through this and refuses to run away. Nacho reports Lalo's moves to Gus who decides to do nothing, unwilling to risk Lalo determining that somebody leaked information to Gus. Mike continues drinking and breaks the arm of a guy who attacks him. Kim is called in by Paige on her day off to deal with Acker, an old man refusing to leave his house so that the land can be used by Mesa Verde. Kim snaps at him after he pushes her to the limit and storms off. However, she comes back with kindness and tries to help him, only to be rebuffed once more. Upset, Kim returns to Jimmy and they throw beer bottles off the balcony together.
The Good: While the first two episodes set up the story for the season, this delved more into what I've come to expect from this show: interesting exploration of the various characters and the relationships they have with each other. This episode spent time with several key characters, showing us what their lives are like and detailing the conflicts they are dealing with using some clever metaphors and top-tier directing.
Jimmy's story was really well done. Bob Odenkirk had a great episode all around as he conveyed Jimmy's fear and discomfort as he gets pulled back into business with Nacho, now being introduced to the dangerous Lalo. Jimmy goes back to the awkward discussion he uses with Tuco as he deals with Lalo and it's very engaging to watch. Better yet is how Jimmy's demeanor completely changes once he hears that he had only been brought to Lalo for legal services. Despite that, working with Lalo and Nacho still isn't something that Jimmy wants to do. Sure he gets a good payday out of it (one that he hilariously undershoots), but is it worth getting into such a dangerous world for this? Unfortunately Jimmy is left with no choice but to step into this world, and he's left in the same predicament as Nacho. He doesn't want to be involved, but just like that ice cream cone, there's absolutely nothing that he can do to keep the ants away.
The origin of Domingo as a snitch is enjoyable to watch. Hank and Gomez make very welcome returns, and it is a pleasure to see them back on the screen. Unlike most shows, this one does fanservice extraordinarily well. These little Easter Eggs aren't here for no reason, in fact they play a crucial part in the story. Regardless of if you have seen "Breaking Bad" or not, the scenes where Hank and Gomez grill Domingo are engaging, and it's consistently interesting to see how Jimmy is going to get Domingo out of his situation. The solution with Gus being thrown under the bus makes perfect sense, and it continues the cold war between Lalo and Gus in an interesting way.
Nacho has a very good episode as well. For the first time since "Coushatta", we get a good look at what his house life is like. Nacho has everything that he could possibly have wanted. He has money, drugs, girls, cars and a big house to top it all off. But we can see on his face that none of this brings any joy to his life. The house is shot in such a dull lighting, and the camera almost never gets close to the characters, making the house appear empty and lifeless. It's obvious that Nacho has no desire for any of this. He's met by his father and we learn that Nacho had tried to get his father to leave, likely in an attempt to get him away from the threat of Gus murdering him. But Manuel is smart enough to see through Nacho's plan and he refuses to leave. It's heartbreaking to see the state of their relationship. Nacho clearly wishes to reconnect with his father, while Manuel clearly wants to see his son escape from the cartel business he's involved in. But this episode makes it clear that there is no escape for Nacho. If he runs, Gus will kill his father. If he goes to the cops, he will never be safe, a point that's also hammered home by Jimmy trying to ensure that Domingo doesn't get killed for being a rat. All that's left for Nacho to do is to keep on surviving and hope that he can keep both Gus and Lalo satisfied. It's a horrible place for Nacho to be trapped in, and it's easy to sympathize with him.
Kim also gets a chance to really shine in this episode. We return to her never-ending inner conflict and we even get some fascinating details about her past. Learning that Kim used to be poor neatly explains why she enjoys PD work so much since she is able to help less fortunate people, just like herself. But it also explains why being the main attorney helping Mesa Verde is so difficult for her. Being the lawyer working for a rich law firm isn't at all what she wanted to do, and it reflects poorly on her character. Kim wants to be there for the people, the last thing she wants is to be viewed as a smug corporate lawyer. It's telling of who she is that Kim isn't able to put Acker off her mind after she snaps at him. She comes back, looking to help sort out his situation. But he's already decided that she's a horrible person and he rejects her help. It's a heartbreaking moment for Kim that shows us exactly why doing independent work is so appealing to her. She doesn't want to be part of the big law firm, in fact she gets much more joy out of simply helping others. This takes us to the ending scene with Jimmy. The two of them are in a precarious place in their relationship. They don't talk about their lives and their struggles and instead just have fun testing the law together, the makings of a pretty toxic relationship. But that's what makes it so fascinating to follow them. The show makes it so tough to see where their relationship is going. One episode I'm left thinking that Kim is bound to leave Jimmy soon, but the next I'm wondering if Kim is actually able to tolerate Jimmy's complete disdain for ethics. This show is keeping me on my toes, and I'm left fearing for Kim's fate. The entirety of Kim's story this week took full advantage of my attachment to her and made me fear for whatever is about to happen to her. Despite very little happening, the show gets the most emotion out of every moment, making me just as hurt as Kim when things go badly with Acker.
Mike's story is progressing well enough. There isn't a whole lot to bite into in this episode, but it's some solid progression of his guilt over Werner's death. He goes through life without a care in the world and engages in conflict when it isn't even necessary. It's evident that he thinks very little of himself now, and he's now reached a new low.
The Bad: This episode isn't quite as suspenseful as it tries to be. The opening scenes with Jimmy aren't frighteningly tense because we already have a good idea of what Lalo wants with Jimmy. Jimmy is scared out of his mind, but we aren't scared at all. That creates a bit of a disconnect between Jimmy and the viewers, and that prevents the scene from being as good as it could have been had there been more mystery as to why Nacho had picked up Jimmy.
The Unknown: Does Kim want out from Mesa Verde? It seems like she hit a breaking point with Acker, so I wonder what her next move is. Will she leave Schweikart and Cokely? Also, is Kim jealous of Saul? She seems dismissive of Saul in her brief talks with Jimmy, but I have to wonder if she is jealous that Saul is doing the exact job that she wants to do more than anything.
Has Manuel been set up for death? If he isn't going to leave, then I don't see any other fate for him unfortunately.
How much of this whole thing did Lalo plan to frame Gus? Could he have somehow staged Domingo's arrest as well?
How is Gus going to handle the DEA finding his dead drops? How will this change his relationship with the cartel? What is he going to do to stop Lalo?
Best Moment: The final moments of the episode were wonderful. Jimmy and Kim have both had a crazy day that pushed them to their limits. But they both come home and don't say a word to each other about it. Instead, they silently blow off some steam by flirting with the law together, as always. No matter how far their lives sink, they always go back to each other to break some rules together. It's a pretty destructive relationship, and I'm left feeling very nervous about what awaits Kim.
Character of the Episode: Kim.
Conclusion: This was a quieter episode than the first two but I actually enjoyed it a bit more. This show excels at character work, so this episode played to the show's strengths. It has been a quiet start to the season, but the storytelling remains terrific.
Summary: Jimmy takes Kim on a surprise trip to an open house where they smooth things over between them for the moment. Jimmy begins working as Saul Goodman and tackles countless cases quickly, going as far as to break down an elevator to stage a meeting with Suzanne to discuss clients. Nacho's threatened by Gus who orders him to gain Lalo's trust to learn his intentions. After an unfortunate drug bust which ends with Domingo arrested, Nacho sneaks into the stash house to get rid of the cocaine before the DEA can find it, earning Lalo's respect. Mike has started drinking again and lashes out at Kaylee after being reminded of his guilt. After Jimmy leaves court, he's picked up by Nacho.
The Good: This was probably one of the funniest episodes of the show. The opening sequence was hilarious, and it was edited to perfection. It's goofy fun that we don't normally see from "Better Call Saul", but it fit right in with the changing dynamics of the show. The rest of this episode had plenty of moments that continued the comedic tone, whether it was the comical way that Domingo was busted by the cops or Jimmy's overly dramatic acting as he stages an elevator breakdown to finish up some cases with Suzanne. It was a refreshing change of pace, and made this episode pretty memorable. The infusion of comedy and drama has become less frequent with this show as it has gone on due to the show's darker tone in the past few seasons. However, it's telling of how good these writers are that they are able to squeeze in these laughs without taking away from the serious tone that permeates much of this episode.
But that's not to say that this episode can't be serious. Instead, it seems to take pleasure in mixing the serious with the comedic. Take the ending cliffhanger as an example. This is a huge moment for the show as Jimmy and Nacho have reunited for the first time in almost 40 episodes, finally beginning Jimmy's journey into the criminal underworld. The show understands the significance of this moment - the entire 50% off opening sequence provides a direct link from Jimmy to the Nacho storyline as a wonderful piece of foreshadowing - and the scene is shot in a dramatic way. Yet we still have the joke with Nacho refusing to allow Jimmy to enter his car with an ice cream cone. It's a brilliant case of humour mixed with a serious tone, and somehow it doesn't feel jarring since my emotional reaction flowed naturally throughout the scene.
Jimmy's storyline was terrific in this episode. There is a wonderful open house sequence that may seem like a complete waste of time on paper. But in execution, it turns into a wonderful exploration of the Jimmy/Kim relationship, giving the characters some time to get past the troubles that came from Jimmy's change into Saul Goodman. I thought that it was telling how Kim refused to work with Jimmy when he was trying to sell her an apology, only coming around on their trip to the open house when they start messing around and ignoring their day-to-day life. It's clear that these two love each other and that there are still plenty of reasons for Kim to stick with Jimmy. But there's still conflict bubbling under the surface that needs to be explored.
The remainder of Jimmy's story focuses on him enjoying his new life as Saul Goodman. He's a force in the courtroom, going from person to person and concluding cases as casually and flippantly as he possibly can. And how wonderful was that single shot of him in the courtroom? This show never stops with its innovative cinematography to add a little bit of extra flavour to the scenes. What's evident from the two Saul Goodman sequences is that Jimmy loves this new life. He's free to be himself like never before, scheming and conning his way to success while still serving his clients. This is the lifestyle he's dreamed of and it tastes just as sweet as he imagined. But it's going to be short-lived. Saul Goodman is destined to be drawn into life as a criminal, despite what Jimmy may want. The dropped ice cream cone at the end of the episode is symbolic of this. Before Jimmy is able to fully enjoy the wonders of his new lifestyle, he's going to be thrown out of his depth, and once that happens there is no going back. And it looks like that time is now.
This episode spent a lot of time on Nacho's storyline, which was done very well. Gus' chilling threat early in the episode set the tone very well for Nacho. He wants nothing more than to go on living quietly, but with Gus' veiled threat on his father, he has no choice but to do some of the riskiest and most reckless stuff in order to gain Lalo's trust. Nacho isn't given very many lines of dialogue, yet it's always clear what his intentions are and what the inner conflict is that he's dealing with. The emphasis on visual storytelling is "Better Call Saul" playing to its strengths. Furthermore, what makes Nacho so engaging to watch is that we don't have to be told to sympathize with him. He's such a morally grey character and it would be easy for the show to try to force us to like him. But the show never does that. Instead we choose to care about his internal struggles without there being any telegraphed attempts to get us to like him, and that makes this story all the more satisfying. On top of that, we get an outstanding sequence where Nacho tries to sneak the cocaine out of the stash house. We understand why he's doing it (to gain Lalo's trust) but it still seems like a stupid and scary idea. This scene mixes the nail biting tension of Nacho getting caught with some wonderful levity as Lalo commentates the whole escapade, resulting in a unique and immensely enjoyable sequence that sticks to this episode's theme of blending in humour with drama.
The last storyline to dive into is Mike's. Mike had a quiet episode, but still a very effective one. We get to see Mike fall back into his drinking habits, and the guilt over what he did to Werner is evidently eating him alive. Jonathan Banks communicates this all so perfectly, and the tragic scene where he lashes out at Kaylee is hard to watch. The poor girl is only wanting to learn more about her father, but her attempts to do so bring Mike's guilt over what happened to both Werner and Matty to the surface, and that has dire consequences. I'm not sure where Mike goes after this, but it should be interesting to see what he has to do to resolve his inner dilemma.
The Bad: I don't think there was any problem with the content we got in this episode. It was all very good stuff. But when put together, something about this episode felt off. There are so many storylines going on, and everything didn't quite flow in this episode. Things felt disjointed, without a focused story pushing things forwards. It's here where the episode's biggest strength (its humour) becomes its weakness, as the humour ends up only adding to what already feels like a pretty cluttered episode. Every individual scene worked, though the overall package felt like it was missing the focus it needed to really deliver.
The Unknown: What is Lalo planning to do about Gus? Hector told him to go after Gus' money. How does he plan to do this?
I liked that we got to learn how Domingo got his nickname. It was a harmless bit of fanservice that did actually fit in the episode. I wonder if this arrest is what leads to Domingo becoming a DEA informant. I really appreciate that the show has been quietly developing Domingo in the background. Will we actually see him become the Krazy 8 that we know from "Breaking Bad"?
What does Nacho want with Jimmy? Does this have to do with Lalo's plans for Domingo? I suspect that Nacho will want to recruit Jimmy to get him out of custody.
Best Moment: Nacho getting the cocaine out of the stash house. A wonderfully original sequence that was shot perfectly and blended humour and drama in a tremendously fun way.
Character of the Episode: Nacho.
Conclusion: This ended up being a great episode that finally merged Jimmy's story to the cartel story. The use of humour was a highlight of the episode, and there was plenty of interesting character exploration to set up the remainder of the season.
Summary: Gene escapes from Omaha for a few days, unsure if his cover is blown. After a while, he returns safely but is discovered by Jeff, the taxi driver who recognizes him. Jeff plans to stay in touch with Gene who panics and calls Ed looking to vanish again. But at the last moment, Gene changes his mind. In the present, Kim is shaken by Jimmy's change to Saul but she accepts it. Jimmy runs a promotional stunt with his final cell phones and gets in touch with a lot of new potential clients. Kim runs into Jimmy while working a PD case and Jimmy gets Kim to run a con to get her client to make the right choice, unnerving her. Meanwhile, Lalo enlists Nacho's help and discovers that the cocaine being sold is stepped on. Lalo meets with Bolsa and Gus, and Gus explains that Werner stole his cocaine and he had him quietly killed, diluting the cocaine with meth in an attempt to keep things unnoticed. Gus also explains that Werner was working on an innocuous construction project but Lalo doesn't buy it. Mike dismisses the Germans back to Germany and quits working for Gus.
The Good: Like most season premieres of this show, this was a slow episode that patiently explored a change in character dynamics while wrapping up loose ends from last season and setting up the plot for this season. It certainly won't be the best episode of the season, but it's still an enjoyable watch.
I'll start with the opening Gene sequence, a staple of the season premieres. As usual, the sequence was a terrific self-contained watch, furthering Gene's story and highlighting his paranoia. We see Gene on-the-run after his tense encounter last season, and he's ready to leave at a moment's notice. This is the first Gene scene we have seen that doesn't open with a musical score. The music represents Gene's monotonous Cinnabon lifestyle, and with Gene starting off in such a place of bother, the music isn't there. At least not until Jimmy returns to his normal lifestyle, but even then the music only lasts a short while, symbolic of the increasing pressure on Gene and how the Jimmy/Saul hiding beneath him is eager to emerge. Gene is living under constant threat now, and the confrontation with Jeff was exemplary of that. The scene was frighteningly tense giving Gene a good reason to want to disappear once again. He calls Ed (R.I.P. Robert Forster) looking to leave. But he changes his mind and decides to solve the problem himself. This is such a great way to end the Gene sequence, suggesting to us that the Gene lifestyle is no longer viable for Saul/Jimmy. He's going to try to come back, and it should be a blast to see what he does next. But unfortunately, we'll have to wait until next season to find out.
Jimmy's transformation into Saul Goodman went forward in full force. This episode sees Saul in his element, dressed in colourful suits, making sleazy business deals and spitting out charismatic lines of dialogue. There isn't a hint of Jimmy in this episode, as Saul rapidly spirals out of control with his questionable marketing schemes and complete disregard for ethics. It's as much of a shock for Kim as it is for us to see Jimmy instantly become this colourful new character and break through every one of the restraints that held him back in his last stint as a lawyer. Perhaps the best example of this is Jimmy's new 50% off deal. It's evident to everyone watching that this deal sounds like a horrible idea since it sounds like Jimmy is encouraging felonies, and Kim points this out, concerned about Jimmy's reputation. But Jimmy completely misinterprets her meaning, thinking that Kim is referring to his financial situation rather than his reputation. As Saul Goodman, he's unable to comprehend the idea of ethical behaviour and that creates a divide between Jimmy and Kim throughout the episode.
The relationship between Kim and Jimmy has always been codependent. Kim would keep Jimmy in check whenever he toed the line between legal and illegal, while Jimmy would provide Kim with an escape from her lawful lifestyle by teaching her how to toe the line by pulling small-scale cons. Jimmy would lean too far towards the illegal side of things, while Kim goes too heavily on the legal side. But together, they struck a perfect balance in between both. What this episode establishes is the destruction of that balance. Kim could handle Jimmy, but Saul Goodman is something else entirely. We see the scales tip in this episode as Kim fails to reign in Saul like she ordinarily would. Kim can no longer reign in Jimmy, as shown when he goes through with the 50% off deal anyways after being faced with the loss of a few potential clients. And Jimmy is able to pull Kim to morally gray territory with ease, getting her to actually con her own client (see: Best Moment).
In the other half of the episode, we see Lalo continue his investigation on Gus. This story remains a lot of fun, mostly due to Tony Dalton's charismatic performance as Lalo, portraying him as this suave and consistently unpredictable maniac that isn't afraid of anything. Lalo's presence puts immediate pressure on Nacho. Nacho, similar to Kim, is feeling the pressure of his position. With his split loyalties, Nacho finds it increasingly difficult to prevent a war and escape from his current life. Even though we don't see him very much in the episode, his dilemma is clear as day as he tries to cooperate with Lalo without betraying Gus. Offending either of these two could be a fatal mistake for Nacho.
We get to see the consequences of Werner's escape in full detail in this episode, and I'm pleased by that. Instead of rushing past to the next big scene, "Better Call Saul" takes its time to explore consequences, as it always does. To contend with Lalo, Gus comes up with an elaborate lie, one that is well thought-out and consistent with the carefulness we have come to expect from Gus. Though a small oversight (the lack of a south wall) is enough to keep Lalo on Gus' scent, and it should be interesting to see where Lalo's investigation will take him, and how Gus plans to deal with him.
Mike on the other hand is really feeling the guilt from killing Werner. Kai tries to sympathize with what Mike does, and for his troubles he gets a hard punch. But when Casper angrily insults Mike, he doesn't get punched. Mike knows full well that Werner did not deserve to die, and he's not at all comfortable with what he had to do. Jonathan Banks does a superb job in this episode portraying Mike's unease, and that makes Mike's decision to leave Gus at the end of the episode feel like a realistic choice.
The montage of Jimmy giving phones away was terrific. This show always impresses with its editing, and this was another prime example of clever film-making. I particularly enjoyed the details of Jimmy exaggerating Huell's sentence, and also of Jimmy ringing a bell, signifying that he'll be getting involved with the cartel very soon. As a final point, the return of Bill and the film crew were two very welcome cameos, and Jimmy's publicity stunt was a joy to watch.
The Bad: The cartel half of the story is bogged down by the prequel problem. Lalo's investigation would be much more engaging and exciting if Mike and Gus' futures were uncertain. There would be more drama and excitement if there was a possibility that Gus' plans could get out to the cartel. But since that possibility doesn't exist, the story isn't as dramatic as it could be. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the story and find it skillfully put together. But I can't help but feel that this should be better than it is.
Being a season premiere, this episode is very slow and not a whole lot happens in terms of character, and there aren't even as many chances as usual for the show to wow us with its directing, cinematography and editing. Granted, there's nothing wrong with the content we were given, but there isn't anything particularly special about it either.
The Unknown: What is Gene planning to do to deal with Jeff? Will he be channeling his inner Saul Goodman or his inner Jimmy McGill?
What's with the stepped on drugs? Did Gus somehow plant these to help make his alibi of Werner's escape make more sense?
Lalo mentions that Hector killed Gus' boyfriend. Has it just been confirmed that Gus is gay? Also, what happened in Santiago? I wonder if we will actually learn about Gus' backstory.
The 50% off deal sounds like a horrible idea, and I imagine we'll be seeing repercussions from this very soon. The question is, what's going to go wrong?
Best Moment: The end of the episode sees Kim trying to convince Bobby to take a deal for 5 months in jail time, which is the obvious best choice. But Bobby refuses to accept this, convinced that going to trial and risking 2-4 years in jail is the smarter idea. When Kim vents to Jimmy about this, Jimmy's immediate instinct is to con Bobby into making the right decision. Kim is horrified, unwilling to let Jimmy's cons interfere with the job that she loves doing. She finally sends him away and returns to Bobby... and ends up conning him anyways. Kim loves it too much, and finds herself unable to resist giving in. Afterwards we see Kim escape into a quiet, monotonous staircase, away from the colourful hallway and takes a moment to catch her breath, horrified by what she has done. Dealing with Saul isn't the same as dealing with Jimmy, and Kim is most certainly feeling the pressure.
Character of the Episode: Saul. It's a blast to see this crooked lawyer back on the screen.
Conclusion: Another season of "Better Call Saul" starts with a strong yet unspectacular premiere. This was everything it needed to be and I enjoyed watching it. The foundations have been laid for season 5 and I can't wait to see what comes next.
Summary: Flashbacks show Jimmy partying after becoming a lawyer. Jimmy and Chuck's relationship is healthy and loving at this point. In the present, Jimmy tries to be seen in public caring for Chuck. He slowly loses himself in the process. Eventually he is asked for his testimony and unleashes an emotional speech about Chuck to con the judges into making him a lawyer again. He is successful but unintentionally and unknowingly makes Kim believe his words as well. Jimmy chooses to practice under the name Saul Goodman. Mike tries to locate Werner to bring him back before anything happens. Lalo, who was watching Gus' operation, follows Mike and is able to track down Werner and come in contact with him on the phone before Mike. Mike reports this to Gus, who tells Mike to kill Werner. Mike does so.
The Good: This was an excellent season finale. The story was powerful and it managed to bring season 4 to a close in an effective way, tying together all of the stories that were told in the last 10 episodes.
The flashback was extremely powerful and emotional, and it wasn't because of Ernie's singing (what a singing voice!). After we have seen Chuck and Jimmy at each other's throats for so long, it feels strange to see them so friendly in this opening scene. Strange, yet powerful as it highlights what could have been between those two. A brotherhood between two brothers who help each other and help bring out the best in each other, keeping each other in line. Instead, we have to face the reality of what really happened, adding to the tragedy of Jimmy's character, a tragedy which was explored thoroughly in this episode.
The early stages of the episode see Jimmy pulling another scam, this time he is strategically placing himself in positions to make him seem remorseful about Chuck to important people in the law community. I enjoyed seeing Jimmy's complete disinterest in doing this, proving to us that he truly doesn't care about Chuck now that he's dead, which paid off by the end of the episode (see: Best Moment). The pressure that pulling this con has on Jimmy is immense, as he is annoyed that he has to go to such tedious lengths to prove himself to the bar association. Jimmy has no interest in re-opening his feeling about Chuck, which have been sealed away since "Smoke".
The tragedy of this episode is how the pressure gets to Jimmy and causes him to completely lose himself. After seeing himself in a hopeful scholar, Christy Esposito, Jimmy realizes the world is against him and always will be. After everything that happened to him, he has finally lost hope about finding his place in this world without cutting corners and scamming. He delivers an awkward and imposing speech to Christy, letting her know of the horrors that he experienced in his attempt to be a lawyer, and it's this speech which he delivered to an innocent kid that makes Jimmy realize how far gone he is. He goes back to his car, and for one of the first times in this show, he cries and it's not a con. It's real tears, tears to mourn for himself. Jimmy McGill is almost gone, burned away by the nightmare of a life he has been trying to live. After four seasons with this character, seeing him slowly die on the inside is painful and immensely powerful. And it prepares him for the ultimate con, as he lies through his teeth to everyone in his testimony with such a convincing nature that even Kim starts to believe what is coming out of his mouth. But it's all a lie. Jimmy has no sincerity, just a motivation to win, to hell with any sense of morals and honour. And he doesn't care anymore. He doesn't spare a thought about how Kim may feel and quickly heads forward to pursue his future under his new name. While some people may say that season 4 was boring and nothing happened, I disagree. This season is about transitioning Jimmy to Saul, an important story which I'm beyond glad the writers chose to tell.
The other half of the episode saw Mike chasing down Werner in a tense and exciting sequence made better by the presence of the ruthless, reckless and unpredictable Lalo. Tensions were really high throughout and I was extremely happy to see "Better Call Saul" make an episode hinged on a storyline with a sense of urgency and excitement to it. There were many sequences in this storyline which were tense and exciting. Mike getting away from Lalo was exciting to watch, and I love the touch of Mike refusing to go for the gun, instead using some chewing gum to remove Lalo. The scenes at TravelWire were great too as both Lalo and Mike work on Fred to get him to reveal information. It's also a great contrast between Mike and Lalo, who both manage to get what they want but through very different means. In the end both manage to come in contact with Werner, but it's Lalo who makes contact first, condemning Werner to his fate in heartbreaking fashion.
This leads to the scene where Mike is forced to execute Werner in cold blood after failing to convince Gus to save his life. The sad thing is that it looked like Gus may give in, but it's Lalo's involvement which prevents Gus from being willing to take the risk. In the end Gus is left in his half-finished lab, angry and unimpressed, demonstrating his disappointment with what happened. To make up for this disappointment, Mike knows he has to fix his mistake and kill Werner. The scene is heartbreaking and beautifully shot as Mike has to slowly let Werner realize what is happening. Werner is so good-hearted, so seeing him meet this fate is devastating, and his final phone call with his wife makes it even more painful and sad. Better yet is the focus on Mike who is pained when he realizes that he has to murder a friend who doesn't deserve to die for what he has done. It's a big change for Mike's character which pushes him even further into his work with Gus. The scene was masterful and it certainly makes up for some slow moments in the episodes prior.
I was glad to see Gale again and his interactions with Gus and Mike were pretty funny and entertaining.
The Bad: But Gale's interactions with Gus were sadly inconsistent with Gus' character which we see in "Breaking Bad". I understand that he's angry about the halt in superlab construction, but Gus has always treated Gale with kindness and it feels awkward to give him the cold shoulder here. I feel like this season hasn't shown enough of the charming and friendly Gus, and it may have even somewhat forgotten what the true essence of the character is.
Lalo's stunt at TravelWire was a little hard to believe. I understand what they were going for and it was somewhat funny, but it was far too cartoonish for this show. I can't buy that Lalo would manage to sneak into the ceiling so quickly and silently, plus how would he get up there anyways? Is he Spider-man?
I was disappointed that Nacho wasn't in this episode. He has hardly had anything to do in the back half of this season which is poor considering how important he was early in the season. Furthermore, I thought that Howard could have had a more important role as well. I was interested to see what Howard and Jimmy's relationship was like, especially after their last conversation but we never got to see any of that which feels disappointing.
The Unknown: Did Lalo cover up his murder of Fred appropriately or could that come back to haunt him? Did he also appropriately deal with the man in the parking lot who may have gotten his license plate?
How will the superlab be completed now? Who finishes it? Will that be Gale's job now?
How will Kim and Jimmy's relationship change after that last scene?
Best Moment: Jimmy's testimony is poignant and it's meant to be. For a little while we even think that he may be honest here since everything he says could very well be true. But of course it's not. The scene even parallels Jimmy meeting with the bar association in the last episode to show that he is still conning the judges. But Kim doesn't realize and thinks that Jimmy finally got his sadness surrounding Chuck's death off his chest. But Jimmy quickly and ruthlessly reveals it was all fake and even laughs at the "asshole who was actually crying". Rhea Seehorn is terrific as she shows Kim's shock at learning this, and it finally begins to clue in to her that Jimmy isn't hiding anything. He isn't the same man anymore, he's Saul Goodman now. It's another powerful scene in an episode full of them.
Character of the Episode: Jimmy.
Conclusion: This was a great season finale, capping off the season with a bang, concluding several stories and all but completing Jimmy's transformation into Saul. This show rarely disappoints and this was no exception.
As for the season as a whole, it was outstanding. Unsurprisingly, the acting, cinematography, editing, storytelling, writing, pacing, etc. were all near-perfect and combined to make this slow-burn show deliver some of the best television this year. Jimmy's story and transformation was tremendously strong and I think it brought out the very best acting from Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn to date. The big question going into this season was if it could still be great without Chuck. Thankfully the answer was a resounding yes as the story moved in a new and fulfilling direction without Chuck, organically continuing the story. The Nacho and Mike stories were very strong too with engaging moments and a good overall story which combined together nicely in the finale. I would put this season between season 3 and season 2 in terms of ranking and I think it was very strong but not as good as season 3. I think as a whole this was the most consistent season of the show, but it didn't ever reach the highs that seasons 1-3 reached. But that shouldn't take away from just how good this season was.
Summary: Jimmy and Kim get used to a life of scamming people together. The time comes for Jimmy to get his law license back but when he goes in front of the bar association, he is denied his law license because of insincerity. Jimmy is enraged and lashes out at Kim. The two of them have a fight. Ultimately Kim decides that she will help Jimmy get his law license back. Mike notices that Werner is troubled and permits him a phone call to his wife. Mike continues to support him to finish his work, but Werner doesn't listen and escapes. Lalo visits Hector and gives him his bell. He goes to Los Pollos Hermanos and offers Gus a deal to work together peacefully.
The Good: This was a great episode, playing off of tension extremely well and including some terrific scenes with consistent and impressive acting throughout.
Jimmy and Kim had a great storyline in this episode which culminated in a standout final scene. But before I talk about that, I want to talk about the opening scene. Last episode raised the question of how far Kim would go with her new-found appreciation for conning, and we were answered right away with a terrific scene which showed us how committed Kim is to this as she uses a cheap scam to save her from doing some work on Mesa Verde. It was a great way to establish her morals, set up some threads for the climactic scene later, and also provides us an entertaining opening sequence by showing up Slippin' Jimmy at work with his new partner in crime.
Then we get to Jimmy going to get his license back, which I think was a very clever use of audience expectations. Jimmy was so confident about getting his license back, and we know that he continues being a lawyer in the future, so it seemed like a given that Jimmy would be reinstated as a lawyer. That the scene took place in the middle of the episode also supported the idea that nothing too huge would happen here. But then the scene happened and we got to see Slippin' Jimmy at work once more, only this time he is fighting for his law license. It's entertaining as always, but this one has a little more emotional weight to it as the words coming out of Jimmy's mouth are more truthful than usual; he does genuinely enjoy being a lawyer. I thought that his decision to neglect speaking about Chuck would just exist to show us how he doesn't care at all about Chuck's death, but I was wrong, and when the curtain came down and it was revealed that Jimmy wouldn't be getting his license, it felt like a gut-punch. This was an out-of-nowhere tragedy for Jimmy's character, and it was downright heartbreaking to witness. I must hand it to Bob Odenkirk as well, who does a terrific job of showing the many, many layers behind Jimmy as he acted out this scene. The storytelling is outstanding as it provides a genuinely surprising twist in Jimmy's story, and the wonderful irony in the fact that Jimmy was actually being sincere and had he mentioned Chuck, that would have been insincere. Jimmy, a regular scammer, was just punished for his own honesty and that is bound to make honesty a trait that Jimmy may never want to express again, furthering his descent to Saul Goodman in a heart-breaking way.
That scene could have been the climax of any other episode and I would have been satisfied, but then it was immediately followed up by a massive fight between Jimmy and Kim. Jimmy is enraged due to being let down for doing seemingly nothing wrong and Kim is the one who has to calm him down. She tries, but it's one slip up, where she says "we will find a way to make you look sincere" that completely sets Jimmy off. In one moment, all of Jimmy's past enemies flash before him as he makes reference to several setbacks he has had to deal with (including a nod to the Kettleman story in season 1 which I especially appreciated) by lashing out all of his frustrations towards Kim, treating her like just another one of the people who always look down on him. Naturally this sets Kim off too and she explodes at his lack of gratitude for her, and it ends up becoming a powerful and sad fight. The best part about this is how realistic and organic the set-up to them coming to blows actually is. It's so relatable which makes it all the more tragic to see them explode like this at each other. The scene is brilliantly constructed and it is a wonderful catharsis for what is now seasons worth of frustration. This moment was a series highlight for sure, and it was carried by some tremendous acting from Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn.
I though the following scene at Kim's apartment was another outstanding one. They had clearly never had anything like this before, so both are unsure of what to do. Kim is nervous to approach Jimmy, who is reluctantly packing his stuff into his bag, unsure if Kim would even want him anymore. It's sad to see Jimmy believing that he just ruined the one final good thing in his life, but thankfully Kim's inability to get away from Jimmy pushed her back to him to try things again and to push forwards. I feel like Kim being unable to get away from Jimmy while she had the chance may come back to haunt her.
As if that wasn't exhausting enough, there are still two more storylines in this episode, with both of them having important and engaging developments to set everything in place for the season finale. I'll tackle the superlab story first. I thought last episode did a great job of making Werner a character that I care about and I had hoped that this was set-up for something big in Mike's personal story. It seems like that will be the case as Werner shows serious signs of being a potential threat, yet Mike takes the half-measure to deal with him, only letting him call his wife. It's sensible as we can see that Mike and Werner have become friends over the past few months, but it ends up being a mistake as we get the big reveal that Werner escaped the compound and nobody noticed. It's a great surprise to end the episode, and it could very well be setting up for Mike to make a full measure to correct his half measure. I imagine that Mike may very well make his first kill working for Gus, and it won't be pretty, seeing how much I've become invested in Werner. Furthermore, the scenes int he superlab did a great job with tension. Werner having a breakdown alone while doing the blasting was poignant and scary, while the ending scene was shocking and foreboding as you just get the sense that Werner won't be able to make it very far.
Lastly, we get to Lalo, who continues to be a wildly entertaining character. His polite and charming nature is a breath of fresh air compared to all of the violent Salamancas, and his mysterious motives (see: The Unknown) make all of his scenes so much more engaging to watch. I enjoyed the first sequence where he gave the bell to Hector. Technically this scene was unnecessary, but I think that Hector getting the iconic bell was important enough that we needed to see it happen, and I think Lalo's interactions with Hector were also significant as they taught us a little more about his character and how he normally behaves. This led to him having a meeting with Gus in a scene which I really loved. Both actors have so much presence, and they played off of each other in an excellent, and different, way. As an aside, I also liked seeing Lyle again, plus it was a smart way to make Gus notice and approach Lalo right away.
The Bad: Mike's story doesn't feel like it's significant to the overall plot. Sure it is a very good story, but it just feels too much like filler. Who knows, maybe it will tie into something more important, and if that is the case, I will retract this complaint, but if not, I just don't think it's a necessary story, especially considering how many other important stories are going on.
The Unknown: Will Werner get away and go home safely? Will Mike catch him and kill him for his betrayal? How will Gus react to Mike's misplaced trust in Werner? This situation is set up very well for an exciting finale.
Speaking of a nicely set-up situation, how will Jimmy and Kim try to get Jimmy reinstated when they appeal? What is their plan? Is there a plan? Also, what is the state of their relationship now? How do they plan to address their futures?
Is it possible that Jimmy doesn't get his law license back and would be forced to redo his schooling as Saul Goodman? That could be one explanation of how he ended up as Saul Goodman.
Best Moment: The parking garage fight was breathtaking, devastating television which was written and acted to perfection.
Character of the Episode: Jimmy.
Conclusion: This episode was tremendous with some outstanding moments of storytelling, gripping moments of tension and exciting build-up for what should be a great season finale. This episode delivered.
Summary: Jimmy goes on a bus ride and writes postcards the entire time. He returns to Kim and they prepare to enact the plan. Kim is executing a con, as Jimmy will pose as the people of Huell's hometown Coushatta, who all love him and don't want him imprisoned. Kim pressures the attorney and the judge with fake letters and Huell is ultimately allowed to get no jail time. The con rekindles Jimmy and Kim's relationship. Kim gains a desire to do more conning and tells Jimmy that they will do another one. Mike lets his guys go to a strip club. Kai causes trouble again and a drunk Werner reveals too much information to another man. Mike isn't pleased and reports it to Gus but says it won't be a problem. Nacho is running the Salamancas' business himself now but is secretly planning to skip town with his father. However Lalo Salamanca arrives to monitor Nacho's business.
The Good: Much like "Fall" last season, this episode was coated in dread. I was on-edge the entire time watching it and the tension never really diffused as all of the central characters were placed in a position where their plans are setting up for failure and disaster.
Jimmy and Kim's story was the central focus of the episode, fitting after all of the set-up last week, and I think their story was the strongest, unsurprisingly. The con that Kim came up with to get Huell out of his situation was very fun to watch. The scenes were slowly paced but they were extremely well-crafted (again, unsurprisingly), and also just delightful to watch with a lot of fun moments. Jimmy's Cajun accent, Huell being treated as Santa Claus and the return of the film crew were extremely fun and added a lot to the experience. Of course that teaser sequence was classic "Better Call Saul" by showing us a character doing something we don't fully understand with some fun moments and very good scene construction.
But the storyline never feels too happy and pleasant as there is always tension present. With the season nearing its conclusion and Kim and Jimmy's relationship on rocky ground, it felt like something was bound to go wrong. The amount of focus on Ms. Ericsen only increased these feelings as I was constantly nervous that she would figure out something and get both Kim and Jimmy in huge trouble. The story was paced slowly, but with fun moments and tense moments both, it became really engaging.
The best part of the Kim and Jimmy storyline was of course what happened to their relationship. I, along with most of the internet, suspected that Kim and Jimmy's relationship would end soon after Kim saves Jimmy, but surprisingly, "Better Call Saul" swerved in a new direction with Kim and I really love it, but more on that later (see: Best Moment). I do like that the show went with the unexpected and reignited the Jimmy/Kim relationship with a con. This made sense too as their relationship was always the most passionate when these two were conning others as Viktor and Giselle. It's a great call-back and is a logical way to bring them back together. However, this can't possibly be good for Kim, who I am genuinely scared for now. Her career has hit the roof and now she is taking a massive risk by working with Jimmy, so there is genuine fear that she will lose everything because of their relationship, which I think is a much better story than having them just slowly drift apart. Leave it to this show to still surprise and impress me.
There were some specific scenes which I really enjoyed. Mrs. Nguyen and Jimmy briefly talking about Jimmy's problems with Kim was a nice scene and I appreciate seeing Mrs. Nguyen help Jimmy out, after all they have known each other for a good while now. Kim has a lot of great scenes in this episode. I liked that she keeps the Zafiro bottle cap in her office, showing how much the exciting cons with Jimmy meant to her. I also liked the scene with Kevin and Paige as it effectively illustrated that Kim is starting to lose interest again, while also letting us understand why as what they are doing is pretty boring.
Mike's story was much better in this episode, as the possibilities have opened up for where his storyline is heading. I initially thought it would just be Kai who is an issue and that Mike may end up killing him as a first kill, but that would have been pretty flat, predictable and inconsistent with what we have seen of Mike so far, as he has always been avoiding the kill option. But now by having not only Kai, but also Werner make a fatal error, it feels like the lives of all of the Germans are in danger here. Mike doesn't want to kill them, but he may be forced to, which is much more interesting for his character, and will likely help him make the big change from BCS Mike to BB Mike. Furthermore, I care about Werner after he got some great scenes to bond with Mike, so I'm more engaged with the story overall.
Lastly, I get to Nacho's story which was excellent. The first sequence with Nacho was an effective way to show us what has changed in his lifestyle since we last saw him. He runs the Salamanca operation now and has everything, a big house, girls and tons of money. But Nacho doesn't enjoy it, as he is still stuck being somebody he doesn't want to be, ripping out earrings and acting touch. When he gets home he feels deflated and can only look at some fake IDs to get some hope, promising an escape and a new life on the horizon. But that all goes out the window at the end of the episode with the introduction of Lalo, another Salamanca for Nacho to contend with, making him feel more trapped than ever, still unable to escape.
Lalo was terrific in his brief scene and immediately has a presence. He is so cheerful and charming in his personality, and yet he is chilling and has a terrifying atmosphere around him, making him an ideal villain for the show. I especially loved the introduction to Lalo as we hear some friendly music inside El Michoacano, but we know something bad has happened. Domingo and the cook are sitting at a table, silent and unmoving, which is chilling in itself as none of them dare to speak a word. It's a great introduction to Lalo and lets us know everything we need to know about who he is.
The Bad: Nothing I would call bad.
The Unknown: Why was Lalo sent to Nacho's operation now? What happened that required his presence? What are his real motives?
What is going to happen to Kim now that she is going to be conning more regularly again? Will her relationship with Jimmy persist? More interestingly, having Kim turn to her darker desires does actually make her fate a little more unclear. I could legitimately see her working alongside "Saul Goodman" now, so perhaps a break-up isn't on the horizon after all. Or this is all just a big red herring. Either way, I know I will be satisfied by what happens.
Best Moment: Kim approaches Jimmy at the end of the episode with a desire to con once more. Jimmy does his usual shtick where he says he won't do anything questionable again. But with Kim joining him, there is nobody around to keep him in line, which could spell disastrous results for everybody. It's a scary and foreboding scene because of that and a lot more effective. Additionally, I loved seeing how turned on Kim was by all of the conning, and her desire to do more felt significant, and it felt genuine. Great storytelling.
Character of the Episode: Kim.
Conclusion: This was a really strong episode, coated with tension, and it also puts all of the central cast in precarious positions for their stories, as it feels that one wrong move will send everything crashing down. This episode was really enjoyable to watch, and did a great job of establishing the show's future.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.