Better Call Saul
Sometimes, you have to meet people where they live. Yes, that’s literally true when Jimmy trespasses past Mr. Acker’s gate and raps on his front door. But more to the point, you have to figure out what motivates and moves the other party if there’s any hope of manipulating a middle ground. This is Jimmy’s specialty, more so than his scrappy persistence or silver-tongued solicitousness. He gets people. He’s always gotten people. And he understands that Mr. Acker won’t be persuaded by paeans to one’s itinerant youth (not that Kim was being disingenuous), let alone lectures about the onward march of mass-market progress. He’s a rancher, and no rancher can resist a good horse metaphor, especially when it’s made plain with a graphic visual aid of a man—in this instance, meant to represent go-for-broke attorney Saul Goodman—“sticking it to” a seemingly unbreakable beast (i.e. Mesa Verde).
And thus Saul—thanks to Kim, who needs some of that Magic Man touch to upend plans for the Tucumcari call center—has his newest client, one with no obvious connections to organized crime who can help win not merely a case, but the affection of his melancholic girlfriend.
“Namaste” starts off fancifully enough for Jimmy and Kim. They wake up the morning after their bottle-tossing tantrum, post-coitus and crankily going through the motions of dental hygiene before heading outside and surveying the damage. Jimmy brushes it off, putting the onus on her landlords to tend to their mess. Kim, unsurprisingly, sweeps the glass up herself, ever eager for a clean slate.
If only she’d consulted with poor Lyle, who could speak firsthand to the futility of scrubbing away traces of dirt and grime. At Gus’s unusually steely suggestion, Los Pollos Hermanos’ eminent employee takes repeated turns toiling away at the fryer until it’s glistening to his boss’s satisfaction. Lyle is, through no fault of his own, bearing the brunt of Gus’s muted frustrations. While Lyle furiously takes Brillo to basket in a tightly wound flop sweat, Gus stoically awaits word from Victor that their plan—sacrificing $700K of their own dead-drop deposits to stay one step ahead of both Lalo and the law—has been seen through. Only then is Lyle’s work deemed “acceptable.” The execution of their strategy, though precise, is the outcome of an operation that is, at best, acceptable.
You get the sense that Hank feels no different about the DEA’s haul. It’s amazing to consider the circuitous turns that bring him full circle back to Gus several years hence, and how so much could have been nipped in the bud had he closed in a bit nearer to Fring from jump. But as it stands, he knows there’s more than meets the eye to this easy series of arrests from an eager-beaver CI, even if he’ll spend the rest of his doomed days wondering why certain tunnels—like the one Gus’s henchman escapes through—are culverts. Until then, beers on him!
Howard, meanwhile, might never know who vandalized his sweet ride with a minor armada of bowling balls. But odds are the invasive act shattered his fragile inner harmony, a sudden lifestyle switch tacked onto his corporate veneer like a cheap vanity plate. Jimmy didn’t see through it at first. Over lunch and drinks, Howard comes across as earnest and a bit desperate in his effort to woo Jimmy back into the HHM fold. He wants some of that spitfire, take-no-prisoners passion at his firm, a bit of that “Charlie Hustle” grit required to resuscitate a flagging outfit. Who wouldn’t consider the lifeline, one last chance to reclaim their given name and make good on their own terms? But the second Jimmy sees that Jaguar hum away, its bumper declaring “Namast3,” it’s pretty transparent that Howard’s simply fumbling at some half-assed journey toward his own redemption. His man-hugging, amends-making overtures are no less of a persona he’s putting on in the aftermath of Chuck’s demise than Jimmy’s slight right turn toward Saul Goodman. Jimmy’s Suzuki may seem pitiful, huffing and puffing as it is in that Jaguar’s dust, but he’s arguably the one with more self-esteem. (That, and a drug-distributing family keeping him on the side of more unsavory business.)
Which brings us to Mike, not exactly a picture of confidence and, like Gus, still gathering himself from the repercussions of Werner’s getaway fiasco. He shows up for his night babysitting Kaylee, but missed Stacey’s memo that she’d found a substitute for the night. He presses and pleads for the chance to atone, but she can pick up on the act. It may not be about Matty or Kaylee or any Ehrmantraut matter, but something corrosive is cutting into him—deeply. And until he comes to terms with whatever’s got him out of whack, he’s not needed nor welcome as a caretaker and provider.
So, he returns to the scene of last week’s street-thug beatdown, ready to take his licks. It’s another telegraphed scene of self-loathing, right up until a knife plunges into his side. He comes to in what appears to be a Mexican village, possibly around the same vicinity where Mike and Gus were rushed to treatment in a critical Breaking Bad sequence. Wherever and however — let’s assume he’s been under close watch by his sometime employer — it’s imperative that Mike, along with Gus and the rest of his troops, regroup and recharge. The time for peace is through.
Apart From All That
• Jimmy’s little longhair switcheroo in court? Not unprecedented.
• And no, Howard’s not alone, either.
• Hank’s a lefty. Good to know.
• More BCS fun with numbers, courtesy of Tucumcari lots 1102 and 2375.
• Think writer-director Gordon Smith is so good with banking jargon because he shares a name with this guy?
• Maybe whoever named Howard’s judge/golfing buddy Ian Lawlor is a footy fan?