Better Call Saul Season 5 Premiere Recap: The Shady Lawyer Rises
Better Call Saul Season 5 – It’s been an unusually long wait for the new season of Better Call Saul. When last we checked in on Jimmy McGill, he gave an emotional, remorseful speech about the death of his brother, earned his law license back, and then revealed to Kim that it was all an act. Now that he can practice again, he’s throwing away the Jimmy McGill name. From now on, he’ll use his burner phone salesman persona: Saul Goodman. It happened. We finally saw the full transformation from misguided-but-earnest Jimmy to amoral, fast-talking Saul.the criminal defense extraordinaire with the quick wit and downplayed insights of a car accident lawyer.
Then 2019 came and went with not even a hint of what would happen next. Vince Gilligan said it was down to cast availability. If the full cast wasn’t available to make the show as good as it could be, production of the fifth season would wait until they were.
So far, it’s totally worth the year-and-a-half wait. Starting off each season with Cinnabon manager Gene is such a great way to get us back into things. Right away, we’re thrust into the thick of paranoia. Eerily silent scenes are interspersed with light musical montages of Gene going through his day to day. The whole time we’re waiting to see where this is going, and the longer it takes to get there, the greater the tension becomes. Gene’s stint in the hospital from last season has him freaked out. Not only did he struggle to give his information at discharge, but the cab driver who took him home was from Albuquerque.
Fortunately, the rest of Better Call Saul remains a fantastic show. The previous four seasons have been spent on one question: When will Jimmy become Saul? At the end of last season, we finally saw it happen. That means the show is in a really exciting place now. We’ve seen Jimmy’s descent. He has become the guy we met in Breaking Bad. Now what happens? How does he get from a name change to laundering money for meth dealers? Most importantly, what happens to Kim? Sad to say, this season might answer that last question. As soon as Jimmy decides on the name change, you can already see it driving a wedge between them. As he explains how the idea came to him, how he’s going to use his name to defend the people he sold burner phones too, she accepts it out loud, but there’s real fear in her eyes.
With his new name, Saul starts racking up the clients. He gives out free cell phones with his number on speed dial. He gives out discounts for non-violent felonies, despite Kim’s warning that it sounds like he’s encouraging people to commit felonies. Kim’s really trying to see something redeeming about Jimmy’s turn here, but she just can’t. Then he drags her down to his level. When he meets her for lunch, she’s having trouble convincing a client to take a plea deal. She warns him if it goes to trial, he could end up in jail, but the client wants to roll the dice. Jimmy suggests they run a scam on him, and pretend that Jimmy’s from the DA’s office, that new evidence has come to light, and they’re taking the deal off the table.
We also got an update in the cartel storyline. After a break this long, this episode had a lot of work to do when it came to getting us up to speed, but it juggled every storyline perfectly here. A lot of that comes from Better Call Saul’s willingness to be slow. This show has never been in a huge hurry. It’s always been willing to let its moments build and breath. Here, it slows down the cartel train just enough that we can all jump comfortably back on board. Lalo is keeping an eye on the Salamanca side of the business, and he just learned of Gus’ extracurricular projects. His suspicions grow deeper when he finds that some of the meth being sold isn’t Don Eladio’s product. Gus has an explanation for all of it. He even shows the underground warehouse being built, claiming it’s a chicken chiller. Lalo puts on a show of accepting the explanation, but implies he knows more than he’s letting on.
Better Call Saul premiered Sunday, and will air Mondays at 9 p.m. on AMC
Previously on Better Call Saul: