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Five True Statements About ‘Better Call Saul’: Big Trouble In Little Albuquerque


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Five True Statements is exactly what it sounds like, a discussion about the most recent episode ofBetter Call Saul’ centered around five undisputable statements of fact. Mostly undisputable, at least. I would never lie to you on purpose. Especially not aboutBetter Call Saul.’

1. A parking garage is as good a place as any to really have it out

Ideally, if you’re having a big fight with your partner or a family member or a very close friend, you’re doing it somewhere private. Your house, their house, inside a parked car. You are not, again, ideally, having a big fight on the roof of a downtown parking lot in broad daylight. But the thing about a big fight like that — a huge, ugly one where both sides are dredging up offenses of yore and letting all their paranoid insecurities hang out — is that you don’t always get to choose. A volcano erupts when it erupts, not when it’s convenient for the villagers below. Although it’s probably never all that convenient to have hot lava ravage your village. This analogy falls apart if you look at it too closely. Let’s not. The point mostly holds.

Hoo boy, though. That was a good fight. Not good like “healthy and helpful,” not even a little. Good like “if you’re gonna do it, might as well really get after it.” Jimmy unloaded decades of insecurity about being a failure and a fraud and probably displaced a lot of his pent-up rage at Chuck when he started hollering about how she’d always see him as Slippin’ Jimmy. Kim basically recapped this entire season to date, pulling up Jimmy’s offenses large and small — being a jerk to her boss, not appreciating how supportive she’s been, the thing where they committed mail fraud — and throwing them back at him all at once. It’s the gumbo approach to fighting. You don’t eat each individual ingredient one at a time. You let everything simmer and simmer and then you serve it up together in one piping hot spicy bowl. Jimmy may have done the accent last week, but Kim has some Cajun in her, too.

Oh, they were both in the wrong on parts of it. Jimmy more than Kim, of course. You very rarely win an argument that starts with you screeching around a parking garage like a lunatic. No, he started it all and he deserved a lot of what he got back. He was flailing and making accusations and just falling to pieces over everything, in part because his big post-suspension plans were all thwarted at once and in part, I think, because someone had actually seen through his charm for once, and he’s a little terrified that charm is all he has.

But if we’re being fair here, I don’t know if Kim can drop a megaton bomb like “You’re always down” a week after admitting that she loves the grift as much as he does. They’re both broken and sad and not entirely pleased with where they are in life and so they shouted hurtful things at each other in a parking garage. It happens.

Silver lining: As a charter member of the Kim Needs To Break Up With Jimmy Because We Know Where His Story Goes And He Will Drag Her To Hell If She Lets Him club, this was all overdue and a glimmer of hope.

2. Foreshadowing doesn’t have to be subtle to be effective

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Why yes, that was Hector Salamanca, the man who will eventually kill Gus Fring by blowing up a nursing home with a bomb rigged to the bell strapped to his wheelchair, ringing the bell for the first while being asked about Gus Fring in the nursing home he’ll eventually blow up. There was nothing subtle about this one. They laid it all out for you right there on the screen, right down to wide shots so you recognized the nursing home and super-tight close-ups on the bell-ringing finger. It was awesome. I whooped a little.

On the subject of the Salamancas, I’m just going to repeat what I said last week: Cousin Lalo is going to be a problem. He’s a shit-stirrer who smiles as he stirs. I kind of love him, though. The scene with Gus was great.

LALO: We could kill Don Eladio and take over the operation.

GUS: I do not want to kill Don Eladio.

LALO: Whoa whoa whoa, who said anything about killing Don Eladio? Not me. Anyway, gotta split.

Gus already hates him so much.

3. Mike has two very big problems right now

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The first and most obvious problem Mike has is that a homesick and heartsick Werner split in the middle of the night after sabotaging the cameras with lasers and going out through the roof, which a) creates two additional problems, in that they are now without a foreman for their secret underground meth lab and Mike has to answer to Gus because he vouched for Werner; and b) was cool. Werner was a troubled dude all episode, sighing and begging for a vacation and having panic attacks, so I’m actually kind of happy for him. Be free, buddy. Find your wife and your bliss. Try to avoid getting murdered by a vengeful Chilean drug lord you just left hanging in a big way.

Mike’s other big problem, which is somehow both bigger and smaller than the first one, is that I think this makes Kai the new foreman. That’s who Werner would have picked, anyway. I imagine Mike will not pick him. Kai cheats at volleyball. How do you even cheat at volleyball? He is a menace.

4. Jimmy flew too close to the sun, man

I know the show made a big deal about how Jimmy’s insincerity was related to him not mentioning Chuck at all in the hearing. It was pretty clear in the moment. The nice lady set him up perfectly, too, with a chance to save himself, when she asked about his influences and inspirations. She did everything short of leaning across the table and shouting “Say something about your brother, dummy” right into his big stupid face. So there’s that.

But there’s also this: Jimmy laid it on really thick there. Some of those answers were a bit much. That kind of speech will work on elderly people and simpletons but a part of me wonders if the members of that committee looked at each other after he left and said, “He’s either fully reformed or completely full of it.” He didn’t have to go that far, either, with the stuff about justice and Supreme Court cases and whatnot. He could have given them a smooth 8 instead of pushing it to 11. Then maybe not mentioning Chuck would have been a “he’s probably still grieving” instead of a “hmmm is he a sociopath?”

I don’t know. What I do know is that there’s an appeal coming up and he better have a trick or two up his sleeve because I can’t believe this show would do a 10-month time jump only to add another entire year before he can practice law. Although that would be a little hilarious. Now I’m torn. Next week’s finale should be fun.

5. They should not have done that to Shirley

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It’s one thing to grift loud idiots out of bottles of tequila. It’s another thing to run a huge fake church flimflam on an ADA to free a career criminal who assaulted a cop with a bag of sandwiches. But even that was a little defensible because Huell rules and it was funny. The thing they did to Shirley in the cold open, though? Where Kim tricked her with a fake injury and a fake baby and a leaking bottle of milk just to swap out bank plans to make the new branch 13 percent bigger? How they preyed on her emotions with sad stories and a fake doofus in a Jimmy Buffett concert t-shirt and used her even though she was just a sweetheart who wanted to help?

Not okay. Leave Shirley alone.

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