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B6B: TV REVIEW: Better Call Saul – Season 5, Episode 3

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – March 2, 2020)


SEASON 5, EPISODE 3: THE GUY FOR THIS

Better Call Saul has always been a show that has valued convergent themes amongst its storylines. Monday’s episode was yet another example where multiple characters went through different situations that all put them in the position of being the “right man for the job.” That was the lasting impression from the episode, which wasn’t one of the strongest hours of the show, but had some massive highlights, not the least of which a pair of huge returns.

Welcome back to the party Hank Schrader and Steve Gomez. Aren’t you guys a sight for sore eyes? Just seeing Dean Norris took us all to our happy place as television viewers and reminded us, oh yeah, it makes sense to have them involved at this stage. It hadn’t dawned on me that Saul Goodman would end up in their path long before Walter White was a name he knew, but as it happened, it made total sense. It also showed how perceptive Hank and Steve could be, even if they still managed to play into Lalo’s hands in the interrogation sequence.

While we won’t see them every week, we’re going to see them sometimes, as we should. Hank noticing how cheesy “S’all good, man” is again reminds us just how wrong we were about that character when we first met him in Breaking Bad. His evolution and the hero he proved to be was arguably the biggest and most pleasant surprise of that entire series. Jesse, we could see him growing, but Hank we assumed would be an antagonist. In the end, his death was more affecting than any other, and we were all so saddened by it.

In late January, we found out AMC had renewed the series for one final season, which means of course we can start to count what’s left and use that information to determine more of the timeline and what to expect. It also means we’re watching what Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have come up with as their last few pieces of the bridge between the story of Jimmy McGill and the story of Walter White.

Business has to be taken care of now, including what happens to Kim Wexler. Just as Saul was the perfect shady lawyer to pull off Lalo’s plan, Kim is the perfect person to force Mr. Acker into giving up the land to Mesa Verde. She’s the perfect person to be with Jimmy McGill as he transforms as well, because she’s trying so hard to do the exact opposite in her own life. These are two people striving to do diametrically distant things, but who may end up even closer in the short term as a result.

Why?

Because as Kim finds out when she tells the story of how she grew up without money in order to help Acker out, he still thinks she’s trying to manipulate him. Saul became Saul because people assumed the worst of Jimmy, even when he tried to do it honestly. What’s different about how Kim feels at the end of the episode? They’re both tossing beer bottles off the balcony, smoking a cigarette, and both are in a mode of feeling trapped in their respective predicaments, ones they can’t fully confide in one another about. But even when Wexler goes back to help the enemy of her client, he still thinks she’s scheming against him.

Kim takes on pro bono clients to help people, as her conscience always pushes her in that direction. When Acker asks her how she can sleep at night being a corporate stooge lawyer, it sends her off the deep end, leading to the passionate diatribe where she tells him, in no uncertain terms, he’s screwed and needs to stop playing victim. But, in her mind, that’s exactly what the pro bono work is, a mitigating factor that helps her deal with the other stuff she has to do to make a living. She was the “right woman for the job” in the firm’s eyes to end it, not to solve it.

Gus’ dead drops remain in order to ensure Lalo and the Salamancas don’t conclude Nacho or someone else in the organization knows of his own plans with the newest confidential informant in New Mexico. Information is power, as is controlling and spreading disinformation, or selecting what info is shared. Gus, smart and calculated, understands he has to lose the short game to win the long game. We know both cartels still have successes in their future and we also know how it ends for the leaders of both groups, but we aren’t there yet, so again, Better Call Saul fills in the gaps and explains to us why things are as they are once we get to the father series that inspired the spinoff.

The image of the ice cream cone being swarmed and decimated by the ants that serves as the open and returns when Saul gets back to that spot on the sidewalk is one that began last week when he dropped the cone and had to jump in the backseat of a car with no locks and no escape. That’s also the definition of Jimmy McGill’s life as Saul Goodman. While he might be making eight thousand bucks to help a convict learn a script, he’s “in” and there’s no getting out. Nacho makes it clear to him.

The ice cream cone can, if you want to take it to this spot, be the end of innocence or the end of the celebration. It got eaten and gobbled right up after he left, and he only tasted it for a short time. What good is success without any time or opportunity to enjoy it? It’s why you can’t sell your soul for the world. The cost is too great. Jimmy to Saul…that was selling your soul for the world, giving up the real identity for one that takes this man from one reality to another.

And it ain’t a good one. S’all NOT so good, Jimmy.

Now, he’s caught. He’ll “make time” for Lalo and the Salamancas. Note, he does end up working with Mike Ehrmantraut again, who is struggling to say the least as he’s fallen headlong into a liquor bottle and seems almost to have a death wish in some of his behavior. Mike and Gus are always tied together, which means Saul will at some point be working with both cartels, at least in certain ways and at certain times. Right now, it’s all Lalo’s crew. Tuco gets a mention as well, but it’s the introduction of Hank and Steve to the mix that really stands out from the episode as momentous.

We are building first to Jesse Pinkman sometime soon, maybe in the season finale, and later to Walter White. Assuming the season length doesn’t change, we have 17 more episodes to complete the bridge construction and also to find out how it might end for Saul Goodman as “Gene.” No more this week with Saul and Howard, but that’s probably still to come. Our focus needed to be on the similarities in character placement and see Kim possibly go through a “give up” phase, even though it still feels like we’re building to the end of her relationship with Jimmy. Although, we don’t know for sure. Maybe she shows up in Nebraska.

 

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