Better Call Saul
If I’m shaking, how does Kim feel? That was some final scene, and one that somehow doesn’t culminate in Ms. Wexler’s final breath (or Lalo’s, given Mike’s anxious sniper finger). After confronting Lalo in jail, she doubles down by admonishing him in her living room about how he needs to get his “house in order.” Clearly, she tells him, he has no one he can trust. That much is true, and he knows it. He even confides in Hector earlier that day that while Tuco — who will be free in 11 months to run the show — is a wild card, he’s effectively their only option because “family is everything.”
Gus might agree with that sentiment. It’s why neither the Salamancas nor Fring’s operation are likely to set Nacho free anytime soon. When Mike beseeches Gus to reconsider, Gus merely clenches his jaw, cocks his head, and replies, “A dog who bites every owner he has had can only be disciplined with a firm hand.” Nacho, a product of circumstance driven to difficult choices to survive, is now stateless and bound to warring factions as he attempts to save his flesh and blood. There’s every reason to guess that the walls closing in around Kim are a distraction from the imminent danger in which Nacho finds himself, especially as he drives off at the episode’s end to bring Lalo to some unspecified location south of the border.
Jimmy, Kim, Nacho, Mike, Gus — they were all this close to being rid of Lalo. Sprung on bond and feeling refreshed, the artist otherwise known as Jorge De Guzman is eager to head back home and tend to business on his turf. He’s also anxious to have Don Eladio’s ear concerning Gus, whom the cartel king and his right-hand man, Juan Bolsa, still view as a crucial asset in Stateside business. Only things get a bit more complicated once he gets the itch to authenticate Jimmy’s claim that his car ran out of gas six miles from the pickup spot. He and Nacho backtrack that precise distance (damn Jimmy and his details), at which point Lalo gets out and bounds like a cat atop the undercarriage of Jimmy’s upside-down Esteem, still languishing in the ditch where he and Mike left it. He smells a rat. And after his confrontation with Jimmy and Kim, he realizes someone from within his wider organization — not family, but someone — has been conspiring against him.
The answer, as we know, is Eladio and Bolsa themselves. The cartel leadership’s efforts to enrich themselves by playing Gus and the Salamancas against each other have begun to backfire. The assassins who came after Mike and Jimmy in the desert were a Colombian gang that we’re sure to learn more about — a kind of late-season BCS parallel to how Jack and the neo-Nazis came into frame toward the end of Breaking Bad. Mike encountered them back in Philly, and Gus most certainly seems to know who they are and what they represent (and what their bisected-hourglass tattoos are symbolic of). But the attempted, somewhat convoluted sabotage on Gus’s behalf went haywire, and has sown an atmosphere of distrust and dual intentions more provocative than ever before — and among even more disparate parties.
Alas, that was Eladio’s call, and his choices ultimately lead him to a sudden and undignified death several years later. Ditto for Bolsa and his decision to ride Eladio’s coattails, and Gus and his thirst for control and vengeance, and so on. Mike’s life choices were less cavalier but nevertheless set him on his own bad-choice road, which — as he gently lectures a PTSD-suffering Jimmy outside the courthouse — led to their near-death experience in the desert and whatever waits for him when his time is really up (though he probably didn’t see a down-on-his-luck, power-thirsty chemistry teacher coming). Jimmy just wants things to feel normal, something we can all relate to at the moment.
Mike assures him that, one day, he will simply wake up and not have what happened in the desert top of mind, and that will make it possible to forget, to turn it off. Jimmy’s mostly incredulous that “the only person I have to talk about this with is you.” Which is true, because not even Kim can appreciate how he’ll never be the same, nor are her personal fortunes looking rosy, and not at all because she quit her gig at S&C and finally released herself from Mesa Verde. But Kim’s made her choices as well, and makes that explicit to Jimmy, which is probably why he didn’t step in as she badgered and berated Lalo as if on a suicide mission. One way or the other, Kim — and Nacho, for that matter — will probably have to disappear, and Jimmy McGill is all but a memory. Saul Goodman, on the other hand (and to paraphrase Lalo) has a long, strange road ahead.
Apart From All That:
• I won’t soon shake the visual of Mike and Jimmy’s extremity tan lines.
• The lighting, the score, everything in this episode, tilted definitively dark.
• All gang symbols should be scribbled on Los Pollos Hermanos stationary.
• Did Jimmy want Kim to see the bullet-riddled cup? Likely he was zonked and forgot.
• That Zafiro Anejo crown is the worst talisman ever.
• It’s all Diana Pender’s fault.
• “I don’t think any less of you, you’re still a lawyer” pretty much speaks for all of us.