Better Call Saul
“We’re not talking about a bar trick here,” Jimmy reasons with Kim, who’s hell-bent on one-upping his campaign of terror against Howard and sabotaging his entire livelihood. “We’re talking about scorched earth.” But her mind seems pretty made up. She’s had enough of watching men like Howard and Lalo and Kevin make their fortunes on the backs of the less advantaged or those who simply stand in their way. That goes double for the higher-ups at Sandpiper, who’ve been holding out on settling with their elderly residents, letting the clocks run out on Mrs. Landry and her cohort’s lives while their due recompense idles in legal escrow.
Enough, Kim decides. Let’s frame Howard for serious misappropriation of funds, or perhaps witness tampering, forcing Cliff at Davis & Main — who were working on the case with HHM — to scramble for those settlement dollars and put the whole thing to rest. That way, all the lawyers, including Jimmy and Kim (now reeligible for her cut after quitting Schweikart & Cokely) get paid, and her pro bono dreams can become bona fide. Plus, the old ladies receive virtually every cent on their dollar, and the only real casualty is Howard’s “career setback,” as Kim concludes. Viva la revolución!
Jimmy, ever the people-reader, can’t make heads or tails of her cruel intentions. All he can do is polish off his bowl of ice cream, with all its toppings, and sit in awe as she shoots a pair of air pistols, flashes him a grin, and sets about another day of doggedly defending felonious pro bono cases that have been passed over by the very same corporate attorneys billing hours for burning time.
The problem, and what neither Jimmy nor Kim know yet, is that Lalo’s headed back north to make scorched earth look like divine intervention. It’s not a shock that he survived Gus’s assassination attempt. To harken back yet again to that now-seminal Breaking Bad scene when Saul speaks of Lalo and Nacho, it’s presumed that Lalo is still alive and calling shots when Saul first encounters Jesse Pinkman and Walter White. Nacho, or “Ignacio,” as Saul cries out, could be doing just fine or lie six feet deep. As Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould (who co-scripted this finale with Ariel Levine), and the writers reverse-engineer that once-inconsequential plea, it’s functioned as a key to unlock BCS’s forthcoming revelations, one they’ve been rotating slowly for maximum tension. Or maybe it’s more accurate to suggest they use it as a socket wrench, ratcheting our nerves with a steadiness comparable to Lalo wielding his tool kit under the hood of one of his vintage rides.
That scene between him and Nacho by the garage foreshadows the mechanical ease with which Lalo dispatches the assassins sent to take him out, facilitated when Nacho leaves the back gate ajar just after 3 a.m. (Every second counts, no?) But it’s also one of several moments throughout “Something Unforgivable” that toys with our, and Nacho’s, expectations for what Lalo is capable of. (No wonder he and Kim are so equally matched.)
One minute he’s all smiles as he embraces his grounds crew and kindly cook Yolanda and the next he’s admonishing young security man Ciro for not rushing to unload his luggage. Then he yucks it up with Don Eladio over cars and cash (and boy, does Steven Bauer embrace the direction to really revel in his tacky machismo this go-round), but he’s right there in Nacho’s peripheral vision, staring with intent as his protégé tries to win over their volatile boss.
Later, back on a patio in Chihuahua, Lalo’s lulled into camaraderie over drinks with Nacho, not even suspecting anything other than Ciro’s incompetence when smoke billows from inside his kitchen. But once he locks eyes with a sniper’s sights, he doesn’t flinch to fashion Ciro as a human shield and quickly uses every weapon within reach — notably the frying pan boiling over with hot grease — to murder every last one of Gus’s masked men, only after making sure a decoy message gets sent that the task was messy but complete.
Limping and livid, Lalo sets out on a journey not that different from what Jimmy and Mike experienced after being ambushed for Lalo’s bond money — only he’s left no survivors to slow him down and is one step ahead of the rivals and middlemen (that would mean Nacho) who’ve set up him to die. He couldn’t turn to Eladio and Bolsa if he wanted to. They’d hang him where he stood for getting suckered by Nacho and letting him slip under the cover of night. It’s doubtful Lalo would seek their counsel anyway. They are to him what Howard and Cliff represent to Kim: witless, undeserving overlords whom he’s through kicking up to. But grand aspirations, whether Lalo or Kim’s, will have to wait. It’s almost dawn, and there’s hell to pay.
Apart From All That:
• Poor Yolanda.
• A great scene between Jimmy and Mike at Mike’s house. Their near-peership is fascinating.
• “Let’s John and Yoko this sucker” is such a utile phrase.
• Love how Howard’s new associate, Michelle Avila, was quite literally faceless.
• So, did Gus manage to get around the cell-service desert around Lalo’s house?
• Fun role for Roy Wood Jr. as public defender Grant.
• I’ll just wait for the dots to connect on Kim’s PD-overflow requests next season.
• Doesn’t every cartel have its Charlie Manson?
• Jimmy and Kim’s most private moments were once shot in soft light and warm shadow. Then the shadows got heavier. Now the two are all but in silhouette.
• As always, fun with numbers! Kim looking through her peephole at apartment 3308, she and Jimmy doing the math on the Sandpiper millions. Oh, if only all their choices to this point added up.