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 out of control
Last week I described Kim Wexler as being “in the danger zone,” by which I meant that Jimmy — Saul, really — was bleeding into her work, and even her personality. She was playing fast and loose with cases, getting Jimmy to represent the old rascal who was giving her client an impossible time about moving out and making way for the new call center. She was yelling at her boss, in front of the whole office, doubling down on her lies when he correctly called her on them. It was not great.
This week looked like a course correction, starting at the very beginning, in the cold open, where we saw a young Kimmy Wexler decide to walk three miles home with a cello on her back rather than get in the car with her tipsy mom. She pushed for a new settlement, offering to cover the difference between the clients out of her own pocket. She told Jimmy to back off and apologized to her boss and all was progressing in a right and orderly way, with Kim grabbing the wheel and dragging the car back into the road.
Until Jimmy — Saul, sorry — went rogue on her, pushing at the settlement negotiation and going through with the plan she asked him to scrap and lying to her and making her look stupid at best and both stupid and corrupt at worst. She was mad. She was real mad. Rhea Seehorn is very good at a great number of acting things but “looking mad as hell” is way up on the list. She came home and they had a blowout. She got in some good zingers, some thunderous bombs, the kind of artillery you sit on for an argument that requires the heavy stuff. It looked like a breakup was coming, a bad one, a final one, the one that might explain why she was never mentioned in Breaking Bad and why Saul had not even the glimmer of morality that Jimmy had.
And then… what?
Excuse me? Excuse me?! She made the perfect case for why they shouldn’t be together and then… she suggested they get married. It was really something, the kind of thing you see developing in the seconds before it happens and try to reach into the television to stop. Kim. Ma’am. Have you not seen Breaking Bad? Do you not know how this e-… ah, that’s right. You haven’t. But still. But still!
Do I think these two broken, self-destructive souls will actually get married? No. No, I do not. For a lot of reasons. But you’re still going to have to give me a day or two to wrap my head around all of this.
LIE — Jimmy can stop whenever he wants
Hoo boy. That was somehow both very fun to watch and very much not fun. I can’t remember another moment from this show that drove home more clearly what an action junkie Jimmy is. He’s an addict. It started with Howard. He already lobbed a bowling ball through the window of the man’s luxury car. He didn’t need to add a hooker ruse. That he just did to be mean, because the thought of it delighted him so much that he couldn’t stop.
Which brings us to the settlement talks and the string of commercials he showed. It’s important to remember that he was fighting for the sympathetic parties here. He was helping the little guy (and woman) get their comeuppance against a big greedy bank who was steamrolling them. I support that part of all of this very much, every day, I wish he’d gotten them more. The problem is that he wasn’t doing it for that reason. He was doing it because he couldn’t help himself, couldn’t turn down the play. And he did it even though he knew it would put his girlfriend in an ugly, ugly spot. It was selfish through and through. Fun and righteous and kind of brilliant, but as selfish as can be.
It’s not going to change, either. We know that. It gets worse from here. Dude just gets locked in and good sense and good people can’t shake him off. It stinks. I can’t believe this show made me this angry at Saul Goodman, a character I liked. And I still love the show. This is too many emotions. Let’s start a new section.
TRUTH — Lalo’s problems all go back to chewing gum
Okay, this is fun. Mike is trying to solve Fring’s Lalo problem by sticking Lalo with the murder of the kid at the travel office. A murder he very much committed. Look at him up there in that GIF from last season. Blammo! From the ceiling! The man is a monster but I’m charmed by him. I can’t reconcile it with my anger at Jimmy and you can’t make me.
A big part of making the case stick — in addition to the coaxed ID by the helpful librarian — involves chewing gum. Mike’s chewing gum, specifically, also from last season, in the scene where Lalo was following Mike but Mike saw him and snuck free by jamming chewed up bubble gum into the machine that takes the tickets and the parking lot, which prevented the car between them from leaving, which resulted in Lalo ramming the other guy in the same classic — highly identifiable! — car he used to commit the murder. Hit and run. Bubble gum. Librarians. Busted.
LIE — Mike hates this
He does not. I bet he’d tell you he hates it, and he’d believe it in the moment, but he’d be wrong. Look at how much fun he was having this week, from pretending to be a P.I. at the library to carrying himself like a cop at the police station so he could terrify some poor mailroom kid to calling in the ID of Lalo’s car. He almost smiled once. That’s a big week for Mike!
No, he very much does not hate it. He loves it. That’s why he’s still doing it, even after Werner. The money helps, sure, as does a periodic speech from Gus about revenge. But the big secret here is that Mike is kind of as much of an action junkie as Jimmy — and Walter White, if we’re being honest — and he’s doing it to scratch that itch. Everyone on this show is hopelessly bent inside.
He’s not a sociopath, though. I believe — because I’m an optimist, possibly a fool — that he’s going to help out Nacho at some point, at least as it relates to Nacho’s dad. There’s too much father/son history with a Mike to turn a blind eye to that. Right?
Come on, Mike.
TRUTH — I have got to start having very brief meetings in abandoned warehouses
The meeting with Nacho, Gus, and Mike where Nacho spilled about Lalo and Krazy-8 and the DEA lasted maybe 90 seconds and took place in an abandoned warehouse. It was… cool. It was cool. I’m sorry. I’ve always wanted to have a short meeting in an abandoned warehouse. The opportunity comes up so rarely in this line of work. Maybe I can submit this next column via flash drive handoff at a warehouse located somewhere between Pennsylvania (where I live) and New Orleans (where my editor lives). Like, in Kentucky, Maybe? Tennessee? I know there are abandoned crime warehouses in that area. I’ve seen Justified.
The point here is that if any of you want to have a meeting in an abandoned warehouse — and you promise not to doublecross me, I know about warehouse doublecrosses — please let me know. No cops.
LIE — Rich Suspicious would be a terrible fake name
Rich Schweikart seems like a good guy, all things considered. He’s just in a tough spot with Kim, a talented, passionate attorney who makes as many bad decisions as good ones, and whose personal life is making things topsy-turvy at the office. But this isn’t really even about Rich. It’s about me. And Rich. Kind of. Last week, when I was watching my screener and got to the scene where he told Kim he was onto her plan with Jimmy, I wrote a quick two-word note to myself: “rich suspicious.” I didn’t think about it again until I read through my notes the next day and then it lodged itself inside my brain for good. I referred to him as “Rich Suspicious” in my notes all this week. I may or may not have originally typed “Rich Suspicious” instead of his actual name in the first sentence of this paragraph, just out of muscle memory and a subconscious desire for it to be real.
Has nothing to do with this episode or anything that happened during it. Just needed to get it out into the world. Thank you, I’m sorry, and you’re welcome.