Better Call Saul
Nacho’s not out of the woods yet. Not until Lalo’s out of the picture, and that’s not quite the situation. When he and Mike meet at yet another no-name lot characterized by weeds and concrete, Nacho makes it clear he wants a fresh start for him and his dad. The way he sees it, Lalo’s in jail, so he held up his end. Problem is, he’s holding back, and Mike knows it. So he clears the air: Lalo’s still operating from prison and has ordered Nacho to set one of the Los Pollos Hermanos locations ablaze. Ipso facto, Lalo is still a thorn in Gus’s side, and, until that changes, Nacho stays put, playing both sides and praying his family remains intact.
Jimmy’s in a similarly tight spot. He’s now tasked with getting Lalo, a.k.a. Jorge de Guzman, out on bail. If he succeeds, he’s a “friend to the cartel.” Falling short of that goal isn’t really an option. But in any case, Jimmy’s still trying to keep a grip on some goodness without having to turn down great money and dreams of owning a ranch or lavender farm in Montana — all while feeling confident that Kim is nowhere near harm’s way.
The truth is, she probably is. Their plan to get married, practice radical candor, and rest easy in the comfort of blanket spousal immunity runs into one major issue. It’s summed up in Jimmy’s howling at Howard about how “I travel in worlds you can’t even imagine.” But by the time Jimmy unleashes on the man he blames for Chuck’s death, he and Kim have already struck irreversible and interconnected bargains — Jimmy with a man capable of rallying a $7 million bond, and in turn Kim with a new husband whom she loves and desperately doesn’t want to judge or hold back.
The shame is that Fred Whalen’s family will have to hope and pray Lalo doesn’t make a run for it, or them, prior to his reckoning before a jury. It’s actually easier to wrap your head around Breaking Bad–era Saul Goodman’s seeming lack of shame after witnessing this episode’s courtroom theatrics. Could he possibly sink lower than hiring ringers to impersonate a murderous gang member’s inherited family while his victim’s loved ones look on in tears? As the hearing halts to a defining slow motion in Jimmy’s senses, he’s answered that question for himself. If he can set this guy free, collect his fee — not to mention the cash to spring him loose, as ordered by Lalo — and continue taking marching orders from the cartel, then anything Saul does down the road with Walter White is a day at the park.
Of course, Mike has already been explicit with Jimmy that he will ultimately be doing as Gus dictates if he has any sense. (And if Mike can come knocking on door 3307 unannounced, don’t think Gus, Lalo, or Ocho Loco can’t or won’t.) The only reason Jimmy could advance his case to the point of setting bond was because Mike gave him the goods on his coercive chat with Lillian the librarian, an off-the-books manipulation that taints the entire prosecution. So yes, Gus has deployed Mike to free the very enemy he just put behind bars. Because just as the cops won’t help Nacho and his dad, the penal system isn’t going to prevent Lalo and the Salamancas from sabotaging Gus’s dreams.
Gus happens to be in Houston when he hears word about Lalo’s plans to have Nacho incinerate his restaurant. He and other faces of Madrigal’s fast-food empire are at the company’s HQ to provide progress reports and roll out new offerings. Gus’s Spice Curls fries, emboldened with a “southwestern kick,” get a big thumbs-up from division chief Peter Schuler (welcome back, Norbert Weisser!). In actuality, he couldn’t give a shit. He’s there to talk shop with Gus and Lydia about the aborted Superlab plans, problems with the Salamancas, and the toll all this stress is taking on his deteriorating health. (For those who need a refresher on what became of Herr Schuler …)
Gus implores him to remember what they went through in Santiago (we’d sure like to know) and then sits in rueful consideration of next steps — a stoicism that parallels Jimmy’s in court — while Lydia passes Champagne flutes and toasts to prosperity.
Actually, Gus opts to plunder his own operation once again. Upon returning to Albuquerque, he and Nacho stage an act of explosive vandalism at Los Pollos Hermanos that would have sent poor assistant manager Lyle into a panic attack (and, we assume, will at least allow Gus to collect the insurance money). Alas, Lyle and his colleagues may have to look elsewhere for work for a bit. To borrow a phrase from Jimmy, they’re merely bits of bacterium in the grander scheme of what Gus has cooking. And he’s not going to rest until Lalo goes down in flames.
Apart From All That:
• It was great to see Kim condescend to Kevin, that side-sitting prick.
• And unlike Kevin, Lalo’s not so keen on taking anyone’s advice.
• That split image of Jimmy peering at the Whalens was a bit on the nose — literally.
• Lest there be any confusion, we are now squarely rounding into mid-May, 2004.
• Oh yeah, Judge Velber? What’s your middle name?
• We knew Jimmy was married at least once before, but twice?
• Maybe Peter and Nacho should escape together and open an upholstery business with Nacho’s dad? Just thinkin’ …