The ‘Better Call Saul’ Lie Detector Test: The Final Season Opens With Bangs And Schemes And Montages Galore

The Better Call Saul Lie Detector Test is a weekly recap of the major events of the final season, separated out by their apparent truthfulness at the time. This is not one of those recaps that gets into granular detail about things. It will miss the occasional callback or foreshadowing. But it will be fun. Sometimes, that’s what’s important.

Season 6, Episodes 1 and 2: “Wine and Roses” and “Carrot and Stick”


Everyone is doing great


Let’s round these up via bullet point first and then dig in more later. There is so much to get to and to remember. Efficiency is important:

  • Lalo and Nacho are both on the run, headed in different directions, with bounties on their heads from various sources in the wake of Nacho setting Lalo up to be assassinated and Lalo going full Kevin McCallister in his compound to thwart the killers
  • Gus doesn’t believe Lalo is dead and is, like, weirdly intense about it
  • Kim is fixated on destroying Howard and is playing the heavy in other ruses and just all-in-all is kind of going jet black in the eyes when she talks about it, not entirely unlike a demon
  • Saul is slipping up and calling Lalo by his real name in front of the DA he lied to about it all

A reasonable argument can be made that Mike is doing the best of anyone, which is saying something because Mike had to talk Gus out of kidnapping Nacho’s dad and just generally has not smiled since the mid-90s, if even then. What a wonderful show. I’m so glad it’s back.

Better Call Saul should stop doing montages


See, there’s confidence in storytelling, in knowing your characters well and then things that motivate them, all of which Better Call Saul does and has done and presumably will continue doing. But please, imagine the bravado it takes to come back after a two-year absence and roll right into a wordless five-minute montage of a mansion getting emptied out at some point in the future. Five minutes! I counted! That’s incredible to me. As is the fact that it was riveting. A more eagle-eyed viewer with a better memory of the various developments in this universe could probably have a party picking out the various items and their various significances. I’m stuck on the gold toilet. I’m a simple man.

It’s a good reminder that no show does montages like this one. There’s an art to it, really, to telling and furthering a story like this. You probably thought we were going to check in with Gene at that Cinnabon. Joke’s on you, buddy. We are doing five minutes — FIVE MINUTES — of treasure hunting before anyone says a word. Buckle in.

Gus Fring’s biggest problem is his natural inclination to trust people


Gus is so cold. He’s not happy with “everyone is dead and the authorities say the charred body is Lalo.” I’m not sure exactly what would satisfy him here I mean, he’s right, as usual, because Gus is extremely good at crime, but still. Living life with your radar tuned that sensitive can’t be fun.

Picture Gus at, like, Chili’s, as the waiter brings him a quesadilla with onions on it even though he asked for none. I have this image in my head of him burning a hole with his eyes through some poor kid, like, “Samuel… why have you done this? What is the meaning of these onions? Was I not clear? I always attempt to be clear. Is this… some sort of message, Samuel?”

My point here is that the people at the table with Gus probably leave an extra big tip. Poor Samuel.

Betsy Kettleman seems happy and well adjusted


Heyyyyyy it’s the Kettlemans! I missed these rascals. Look at Craig just bopping around like a dope and Betsy shooting venom through her two front teeth when she says their children have to go to public school now. Awful people. Miserable through and through. But I still got all smiley when they popped back into the action and got hosed once again. Give me a whole show about them getting walloped with karma. I’m barely joking.

This is one of those things Better Call Saul does better than most shows, this dipping back into its own lore to mine gold. The Kettlemans, Kevin Wachtell in the country club, all of it. The whole universe is stuffed with these perfect little characters they can pull out of the bullpen to fire heaters for a few minutes. Yes, sure, I might need to Wiki it all a little to remember the significance of each person in the story, but whatever. I have time. I’m not a very busy person.


Howard Hamlin has a cocaine problem


What I mean here isn’t so much that Howard has an addiction to cocaine as it is that people are starting to think he has an addiction to cocaine, thanks to Saul and Kim and their various ruses and/or antics. It’s not easy to convince someone you don’t have a cocaine problem, even if you really don’t, because the more excited and paranoid and defensive you get about it, the more you come across as a person who has been doing a lot of cocaine. Real dilemma here.

Also, not really the point here, but… imagine Ed Begley, Jr. asking you if you’re doing drugs. That would be so weird. I do not think I would like it. No thanks.

Kim is heading down a dark path


I’m still kind of torn on this one.

On one hand, again, the demon eyes and the thing where she says “enough carrot” and almost ruins the Kettlemans and the thing where she seems to be getting a kind of sicko pleasure out of all of it that not even Saul gets. Like, he does this stuff as a means to an end. She’s doing it… kind of for kicks? It’s strange. She’s teetering toward becoming the Joker.


On the other hand, I still refuse to believe this all ends with Kim dying or falling victim to various cartel-related retribution. I think the most likely thing is that she gets caught screwing around and gets in trouble — possibly disbarred — and moves back to the Midwest to get away from it all.

Still. Kim has a lot going on. She’s going a little Walter White here. We will continue to monitor this.

It would be cool to know a safecracker


Mike and his crew busting into Nacho’s safe and swapping in a new one to plant evidence for the Salamancas to find raises an important point: Do you think it would be fun to know a safecracker?

I’m on the fence. It seems like it would be cool because you could call him up and crack safes and find jewels and things, but also… what if you have a falling out one day and he cracks your safe? That’s where your stuff is. It’s too risky. Kind of like a Scorpion and the Frog situation. Please do not crack my safes.

Being followed by a mysterious car is probably fine


The second episode ended with a mysterious car rolling into the frame all ominous-like. This seems bad. But, also, we don’t know who is driving it, so… it could be good, too. You don’t know. What if it’s Santa Claus? No way to rule anything out just yet.


You should be nice to Lalo Salamanca


There is almost no limit to the amount of time I could spend watching Lalo Salamanca do, well, anything. Eating, running, giving grooming tips, holding scissors in a way that implies murder, reciting the alphabet in Spanish one letter at a time to translate a message from Hector, all of it. He fascinates me, this charisma bomb of a man who goes dark sometimes and becomes the most efficient killer since John Wick. “Be nice,” he says, moments before you hear tussling and gunshots and see him emerge with a wad of cash to be redistributed among travelers. A perfect television character. I love him.

I am also terrified of him and what his next steps are. Everyone but Gus and Hector thinks he’s dead. He’s driving back into Mexico for proof Gus called for the hit. We know Gus survives into Breaking Bad, so Lalo isn’t getting revenge soon. I don’t know. I would kind of be fine with this entire season just following him on his various missions. No Saul, no Kim resolution, nothing. Everyone else would be so mad.

Mike is the best… even when he’s being the worst


Look at Mike stare at people. Look at him refuse to let Gus go after Nacho’s dad. He’s old and not that strong in physical combat anymore, one assumes, but he gives off the single most “Do not screw around with me” energy of any character on the show and maybe on all of television. He’s the best. Even when he’s being awful. Mike Ehrmantraut remains a land of contrasts.

This was an important episode for air conditioners and toilets


I’m still not over the gold toilet and I probably won’t be for a while, but it was somehow not even the most important toilet-related moment of the two-part premiere. That honor goes to Saul flooding the toilet in the country club as part of the cocaine ruse. That was a fun sentence to type.

And yet, with that said, the toilets weren’t even the most important Home Depot-related product from the action. That honor goes to air conditioners, both the one in Nacho’s room that was malfunctioning and the one in the shack across the yard that tipped him off to the dude in there spying on him. That was a nice piece of business. I didn’t even get it at first. I thought he was just staring at it in envy because it looked cool and nice compared to his sweltering room. Because I am an idiot.

It did not go too great for Nacho after that. There was a shootout and various Salamanca cousins and all of it. He’s going to have a rough stretch here. I worry about him. Maybe more than Kim. Which is weird. I have much to consider.

We are on the verge of chaos


Hell yeah, buddy. We sure are. And I love it. Better Call Saul was gone for too long and is only back for a bit before it leaves us for good. We must savor this. We must not take it for granted. We must embrace the coming chaos.

Let’s ride.