Being in the second-to-last season of Better Call Saul, I guess we should expect a lot more Breaking Bad links to start popping up. We certainly got a big one this week. After ending up in the back of Nacho’s car, Saul finds himself in Lalo’s garage. He has no idea what’s going on, he just knows he probably shouldn’t do whatever it is they want him to. They tell him they need some legal help and he has a brief moment of relief. Then they tell him to give Krazy-8, now in custody, a script for what to tell the police. They need lawyer-client confidentiality. Saul clearly doesn’t want this. He offers them alternatives, and then tries to price them out. He tosses out the high number of $7,925 in the hopes that they’ll go ahead without his services. Turns out he underestimated just how much money an international drug dealer has on hand. Lalo pays him $8,000 for his trouble.
That’s the story of Jimmy in this episode. He consistently underestimates the situation in front of him and ends up in way over his head. At first, it seems like he’s got everything under control. He makes sure no one is watching or listening in, then hands Krazy-8 a legal pad full of talking points. The plan starts to go off the rails a little bit once the DEA shows up. Yes, the DEA. That means we get to see Hank Schrader. He’s alive and well, and has no idea that his brother-in-law will begin cooking meth in the near future. He’s also smart. Saul tries to run a con on him, but Hank sees right through it. Saul got cocky and laid it on just a little too thick. Saul ends up having to give up a contingency. Krazy-8’s information has to lead to an arrest for him to get out. Hank agrees, but now Saul has to sell the idea to Lalo.
I loved watching Bob Odenkirk’s face in this episode. He knows he’s making a bad decision, but he doesn’t see a way out. He took Lalo’s money, and now he’s setting someone up with the DEA. He sells the deal to Lalo reasonably well. Krazy-8 had to become an informant to get the deal, but Saul tells Lalo he can now point the feds in any direction he wants. Lalo accepts the deal, and that’s when Saul tries to break things off. He says cases are getting too busy for him to take on more work, but Lalo pointedly replies, “You’ll make time.” Saul knows it’s too late to back out. It was too late the moment he took the money. Nacho won’t tell him who he set up, but he makes the point absolutely clear. It doesn’t matter that Jimmy doesn’t want to be caught in the middle. He’s in it now, and there’s no getting out.
To be fair to Nacho, he has his own dangerous situation to worry about. While Saul is worried about being caught between meth dealers and the DEA, Nacho is playing both sides in a war between Gus Fring and the Salamancas. Saul’s actions lead to a very tense scene when Nacho tells Gus what happened. Gus’ assistant starts to warn the people picking up the dead drops full of cash, but Gus calls him off. As Nacho says, if the drops are empty, Lalo will know someone talked.
Nacho’s also afraid for his father after Gus’ men threatened him last week. We see the aftermath of that early on in the episode. Nacho is hanging out at his home when his father shows up at the door. Someone has made an offer on his car upholstery shop. They offered more money than the place is worth, even with the land. Nacho’s dad sees through the offer. It’s Nacho. Nacho’s the one fronting the money, in the hopes that his father will retire somewhere safe. His father refuses the money, and tells his son he won’t run. It’s a hard scene to watch. Nacho is doing the best with the cards he’s been dealt, but he realizes he may not be able to keep his father safe. One way or another he’s going to end up losing him.
No one has a good day on this week’s Better Call Saul. Kim starts the episode in a pretty good place. She’s excited for the following day because it’s going to be all pro bono clients and no Mesa Verde. As soon as she says that, we all know how long that’s going to last. After a judge denies her motion to dismiss a case, she gets a frantic call from Mesa Verde. They’re having trouble with a man who refuses to leave his home on a lot where they plan to build a call center. She has to abandon her day of helping vulnerable people to go kick a man out of the home he’s lived in for 30 years. The previous night, she was clearly disgusted at Jimmy bragging about Saul’s big financial win, not realizing the situation Jimmy put himself in to get it. She thinks Saul Goodman is making the world a worse place. Now, she starts to realize that kicking a man out of his home (offering him only $18,000 for his trouble) isn’t much better.
The old man calls her out on all of that too. The law may be on Kim’s side, but that doesn’t make this job feel any less gross. He tells her she probably gives to charity or volunteers at a soup kitchen and thinks that makes up for all the evil she does on behalf of a bank. And that’s exactly what her pro bono work is. Sure, she cares about her clients and genuinely seems to enjoy doing that work, but it started as, and remains, a way to assuage her guilty conscience. She tries to go back that night and approach in a friendlier manner. She brings with her a bunch of houses that would be in the man’s price range. She then tries to convince him to go along with it by telling him about her childhood of running from landlords coming to collect. He doesn’t buy it. “You’ll say anything to get what you want.” That cuts Kim deep.
I love the way the show bookends her story here. It starts with her and Jimmy drinking beers on the balcony. Things seem fine until he brings up Saul and how much money he made. She looks down on him, but then Mesa Verde asks her to do something that brings her to her lowest point. When she gets home, she finds comfort in Jimmy. Once again, they’re back on the balcony, sharing a cigarette and beers. They’ve both had rough days, and neither of them needs to say it. They start throwing beer bottles off the balcony as hard as they can until someone yells at them, at which point they duck back into the apartment, giggling. Both were forced to do things they didn’t want to do. Both were forced to make compromises, whether on values or safety or both. Kim may not like Saul, but in this moment, Jimmy’s her only real friend. And they can still comfort each other like they used to. At least there’s one happy moment in this episode.
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on AMC
Previously on Better Call Saul: