Better Call Saul is a show with range. Some characters like Jimmy/Saul lie constantly, others like Mike tell the truth to a fault. With that in mind, our coverage this season will be structured as a collection of true and false statements about each episode. Welcome to Better Call Saul Truth And Lies.
TRUTH — Kim Wexler is very good at this
Good news and bad news on the Kim Wexler front this week.
The good news is that Kim Wexler rules. We knew that, admittedly, but it’s nice to be reminded. Watch the scene where she chews out Lalo again. Watch it twice. Watch it all day for all I care. It’s a blast. She tears that man apart, making very good points about his organization and his decision-making and what yahoos might do with an abandoned car they found in the desert. That whole situation was going very poorly for Jimmy before she stepped in, with Lalo being just as menacing as anyone can possibly be, making Jimmy tell the falsified story over and over and tapping on the fish tank like the sociopath he is.
It would have been impressive even if she believed it. She didn’t, of course, at least not that main thrust of it, because she saw the coffee cup and knew there was at least one bullet involved in Jimmy’s adventure. This was the first she heard about the bullets in the car. She could have been forgiven for taking a second to contemplate all of that, from the lie itself to the way it was revealed to how the hell she ended up in that room with those two lunatics in the first place. But she rolled with it, and into it, putting on a performance that even Saul Goodman would have to tip his hat to on his best day. Maybe it was even more than that. Even the best Saul Goodman ruses come with a whiff of the theatrical, a slick magic trick via misdirection. Kim summoned righteous fury, thunder from the gods, in an instant. This was literally life or death and she pulled it off. It was incredible. Look at your queen.
This brings us to the bad news, sadly. As fun as this was to watch, as great as she was at it, it was… not good. Not long-term, at least. If she was only tangentially in the game before, cussing out Lalo like that has her all the way in. She’s very much on his radar. And that’s before we get to the Jimmy part of it, where he lied to her again after promising not to, and where his actions brought this to their door. To their home. That’s not great.
And even if we strip away all the context, bad omens all around. Maybe I’ve seen too many C+/B- action movies but quitting your lucrative job to follow your dream is rarely a good sign. It’s on the list with “I’m doing one last job” and “I’m two weeks away from retirement.” Not quite as bad as those two but worrying all the same. Kim Wexler is the only character worth rooting for on this show. She is also, in a development that is partially related to that last thing and partially related to Rhea Seehorn absolutely crushing the performance in a way that demands repeated recognition, the best character on the show right now.
I did not see that coming. I worry about her every day. Even though she can clearly handle herself pretty well.
LIE — Mike is a great therapist
Poor Jimmy. It was one thing to be stuck in the desert with Mike because at least then you have Mike’s A+ survival skills in your corner. But now, this? This will not do at all. Jimmy is falling to pieces, suffering from some very understandable PTSD from the shootout in the desert and questioning what he’s even doing defending Lalo, a terrifying monster who very much killed an innocent man. He needs an actual therapist. One he can discuss his many, many issues with — including all the ones that led him to the desert, going back to childhood — over many, many years. Instead, he has… Mike.
Mike is many things. He is a guy who gets things done. He is an effective sniper. He is, as we learned earlier this season, a fan of my beloved Philadelphia Eagles. He is not, however, a sympathetic ear or great sounding board in times of personal struggle. You could see how much he hated having that talk. He wanted it to be over before it started. He would prefer to communicate with grunts and sighs, please and thank you.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing in there. Mike has his own issues, largely related to the boy he broke. It’s not just that he’s the strong and silent type, generally, it’s also that he’s a shell of a dude who decided a while ago that he’s only staying alive to provide for his granddaughter. That’s it. No further motivation besides occasionally trying to do as right as possible while doing wrong. Going to Mike for emotional support is not entirely unlike going to a fire hydrant for emotional support. They’re both squat and made of iron and, until Mike’s sunburn fades, bright red all over.
On the bright side for Jimmy, at least he learned that saying “I had to drink my own pee” is a really great way to end a conversation and put a close to an uncomfortable line of questioning. Not many follow-ups coming after that. Something to file away.
TRUTH — If one wanted to, one could make a surprisingly reasonable argument that Lalo Salamanca is Spider-man
A surprisingly reasonable argument that Lalo Salamanca is Spider-man, in four parts:
1. He has this weird sixth sense that allows him to sniff out both danger and bullshit, which we’ve seen before but especially saw this week when, with no provocation or great reason to be suspicious, he decided at the last possible minute to investigate Jimmy’s story and hunt down the bullet-riddled car he and Mike heaved into a ravine.
2. He leaped into that ravine like a damn parkour world champion, with not a second of hesitation, one season after we also saw him commit a murder by climbing into the ceiling of a travel agency and bursting through the tiles before landing on his feet like a cat.
3. We haven’t not seen him shoot webs out of his wrists.
4. I would like it.
I don’t see how we can rule any of this out just yet.
LIE — Things are going great for Nacho
Mike tried, man. Mike really tried. He got back from the desert and went to Gus with the pitch to cut Nacho loose before he even got all the sand out of the places where sand tends to linger. He made a decent case, too, a strong one. The only real mistake he made was continuing to push after Gus shot him down. Mike’s a good man. He meant very well. But questioning Gus Fring’s methods, even if you’re doing it because you have a legitimate concern about using a man’s innocent father as leverage, will not get you very far.
And it didn’t! Gus went from a soft but considered “no” to forcefully comparing Nacho to a dog that needs discipline. That does not bode well for Nacho. He was never getting off that easy, I think we all know that now, but the extra push from Mike didn’t help the situation very much. Now he’s hopelessly under Fring’s thumb and in a car with Lalo bound for somewhere in Mexico to do something that will almost definitely cause problems for a substantial number of people north of the border.
At this point his best bet is to grow a mustache and flee to Europe. I think Nacho would like Europe.
TRUTH — Whoever picked out the “Land of Enchantment” t-shirt for Mike Ehrmantraut is now entitled to one ice cream sundae on me
This is one of those things that Better Call Saul does so well, arguably better than any show on television. They could have put Mike in any crappy truck stop t-shirt they wanted. They’re all ugly and cheesy and usually have the town or state’s name on them. The options were limitless, or at least very close to it. But to pull “Land of Enchantment” and put it on Mike Ehrmantraut of all people… my god. I laughed out loud then and I just laughed out loud again a little while typing this.
My only complaint about any of it is that, I mean, I’m not the only one who wanted to see him in that truck stop buying the shirt, right? The mere fact that he selected it implies it was the best and most suitable option. Which means there were worse options. I want to see those options. I want to see Mike’s face looking at those options. I want to see Jimmy suggest Mike just get the same shirt he bought, then I want to see Mike do the “do I really want to be stuck at a truck stop with this guy in matching crappy t-shirts?” math and let out an all-time Ehrmantraut groan before selecting Land of Enchantment. Maybe a web extra.
You know what? I’m feeling generous. A second ice cream sundae to the person or persons responsible for this shot from the cold open…
… both because it was also a nice callback to the similar split-screen “Something Stupid” cold open montage from last season and because it is really a heck of an image to behold. Two ice cream sundaes. You’ve all earned them.
LIE — Next week’s season finale should be a very relaxed affair
Let’s take a brief glimpse at what’s on deck:
- Kim knows Jimmy lied about his desert adventure and knows he was shot at because of the bullet-riddled coffee cup, but Jimmy doesn’t know for sure that she knows, and it’s going to be a whole thing
- Suspicious Lalo is screaming toward Mexico with Nacho and bad intentions along for the ride
- Gus is continuing to do subterfuge, which sometimes involves blowing up chicken restaurants
- Jimmy is spiraling
- Kim is in the game
- Mike has a cool shirt
- Hector has a party hat
I can’t wait.