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: Jimmy and Kim had a stressful week
Jimmy and Kim had a tough go of it for reasons that were much more similar than they appeared on their face. They were both dragged into tough situations (Jimmy was forced to represent Krazy-8 so Lalo could feed the both of them info about Gus to feed to the authorities, Kim was dragged into Mesa Verde business with a cranky landowner who didn’t want to move out even though the bank had the rights to his land) by demanding bosses (Lalo, Schweikart) who put a wrench in the plans they were excited about (Jimmy and his phone scheme, Kim with her pro bono work). Very different paths, very different intentions, similar result: heaving beer bottles off of a balcony in silence as a kind of cathartic release.
The big thing on the Jimmy front is how this is pulling him into the Gus/Nacho/Mike side of the show for the first time in a while. The show is going to have to weave them together more and more from this point on, so doing so here and like this is as good a start as any. One imagines Jimmy will get better at setting a price for his services. Eight grand is a nice one-time come-up but you could see how badly he lowballed himself when Lalo very casually ripped off the money from a much larger wad. He’ll get there.
Kim might have had an even worse week. That is admittedly saying something considering Jimmy was, again, neck-deep in a scheme that involved meetings with murderers and lying to the DEA. But his problems were all right there in front of his face. Kim’s were, like, existential. Start with the “Good for Saul” line when Jimmy explained what a good week it was for his alter ego. That was a loaded three words that seemed to imply she views “Saul” as a different person than the man she loves. Then move to the house business, which not only ruined her pro bono day but also involved a) her spilling her guts about her youth and being called a liar, and b) her ranting about how everyone has to follow the rules and no one gets to be special, which also felt prettyyyyy loaded given who she sleeps next to every night. Sure, she wasn’t thrown in a car and railroaded by a charming drug lord, but you can still see why she’s hucking those bottles, you know?
LIE: I am above whooping a little when I see an old friend
Man, how cool was that Hank reveal. It wasn’t exactly a secret. Anyone who followed the offseason news about the show knew it was coming, as multiple stories teased the return of the character. But still, seeing the car pull up and the big old belly leading the way through the door and that lumpy bald head gliding in from behind… I got really excited. It proved to be yet another in a long line of “I think I’m above nostalgia and/or fan service but then I’m purring like a cat getting ear little ear scratchies when it happens” moments with this show. I’m sorry. I love this alpha blowhard. I’m glad he and Gomey were on the screen again.
Will it result in more appearances? I don’t know. Maybe. Probably. Krazy-8 will continue to be his informant up through Breaking Bad, so this is the first step in an ongoing process. It could mean lots of Hank yapping about expiration dates and whatever else. I would enjoy that. I’m a simple man.
TRUTH: Lalo rules
Lalo is a monster and a bully and a murderer and I can’t help it but I love him. He’s such a fun and charismatic character. And, just like his nemesis Gus Fring, he does the theatrical bad guy stuff so well. Witness him continuing to wrench on a car after Jimmy has been dragged into his garage, and him continuing to scream laps on a dirt track in the same car when he calls Jimmy back in for an update. He and Gus are really flip sides of the same coin at this point. Gus is cold and calculating and meticulous. Lalo is all mustache and smiles and charm. It’s pretty clear that none of this works out too great long-term for him just because he doesn’t appear in Breaking Bad at all. The existence of that show is really becoming one massive spoiler in that way. But I’m going to enjoy the Lalo ride while I’m on it. I kind of hope he opens next episode eating a huge cloud of cotton candy while torturing someone. It’s fine. I’m fine.
LIE: Mike is doing better
Let’s check in with Mike, who, last time we saw him, was shouting at his granddaughter about woodworking and all-in-all just melting down as the reality of his current situation — killing Werner, going full criminal, etc. — begins sinking in:
- He was problem-drinking alone at a bar and overruling the bartender’s suggestion that he stop
- He demanded that the bartender take down the postcard of the Sydney Opera House because it reminded him of Werner, who he drank with at the same bar and whose father, as we learned while they were drinking at the bar, helped to build it
- He’s walking home alone and egging on groups of street toughs who have ideas about mugging him
- He’s snapping arms in the street and looking disappointed when no one else steps up to get some
Mike is not doing great!
TRUTH: The AMC caption department is nothing if not specific
It’s obviously not the most important takeaway from the episode but I do appreciate that the captions department went with “cartilage tears” here instead of “bone breaks.” I would have enjoyed being in the room when that decision was made. I hope it was a big fight that resulted in hours of Googling and scanning WebMD and at least one phone call to an actual orthopedic specialist.
TRUTH: It does not seem like Nacho is having fun
Speaking of quiet dudes in tough positions, things are also not too great with Nacho, who I have in the past described as “the Charlie Brown of Albuquerque” and will continue to do so as long as the world keeps yoinking the metaphorical football away from him at the last minute. He’s now in an extremely dicey spot, spying on Gus for Lalo and spying on Lalo for Gus. He looks like he wants to let out the world’s longest sigh every time anyone talks to him. Yes, he’s a drug dealer and criminal and not a particularly great person on a day-to-day basis, but he just looks so miserable all the time that a small-but-growing part of me still wants him to take a vacation to a tropical resort that serves lots of drinks with tiny umbrellas in them.
And none of that was the worst part. The worst part was when his dad — a good man who remains massively disappointed about the choices his son has made — showed up at his very fancy new house to yell at him about the “offer” someone made on the family business, which was so generous that his father immediately sniffed it out as coming from him. That hurt to watch. His dad is such a proud, moral guy who only wanted to hand the business over to his son one day. This is tearing both of them apart in very different ways.
Kim Wexler and Nacho’s dad are basically the only people I care about on this show. If something bad happens to either of them, I will be inconsolable.
LIE: I enjoyed the ants
I understand the metaphor. There was a yummy ice cream cone that got ruined and immediately swarmed by a colony of ants. There’s a pretty clear “Jimmy’s big plans are going sideways as he’s getting sucked into parts of the underworld he was not necessarily looking to enter” line you can draw with it all. I get that. It was a cool bit of filmmaking and one of those things that the shows in this universe pull off very well, degree of difficulty for “two-minute cold open featuring nothing but extreme close-ups of ants gorging on ice cream” be damned.
That said, I was eating a sandwich while I watched this screener and I very much did not enjoy the closeups of the ants. Fewer ants from here on out, please. Or at least more warnings so I can finish my sandwich first. Thank you.