Author’s note: This article CONTAINS SPOILERS for the episode of discussion and all episodes of the series that have preceded it.
With another episode of Better Call Saul, we are drawn further into the push towards the Breaking Bad timeline. Saying that is honestly selling the show short for how special it has become; however, the plotting has fallen into going in that direction, unfortunately. What has been lost in the story so far this season is any sense of immediate consequences for these characters, except for maybe Kim and Nacho. For the other three main characters (Jimmy, Mike, and Gus), they are now all three well on their way to becoming the people we find them as when introduced in Breaking Bad. This is a problem for the show, and it is one I didn’t feel until last week, but it became more glaring this week. I attribute a huge part of this feeling to the show’s loss of Chuck McGill. His relationship with Jimmy was the core of the series. More than that, it was a huge part of what separated the show from its predecessor. Without him, the show is, well, just a Breaking Bad prequel.
As the story progresses this season, we see characters deal with their less than opportune circumstances, such as Nacho having to play two opposing sides in the drug trade and Jimmy losing his brother dramatically, along with his license to practice law. Kim of course is trying to be supportive, and she recommends he speak to a psychiatrist because he has completely set himself off emotionally. Again, we’re starting to see the makings of a likely split between the two of them, because I have to figure that she will not stand by idly as Jimmy spirals downwards towards a life of crime.
Nacho’s story taking a bigger role this season than in season’s past is turning out to be pretty intriguing, as his resolution for the gang war he finds himself in remains a mystery. We see him playing both sides here in this episode, with a thrilling shootout featuring the Salamancas defending his honor in an all out brawl that lasts what feels like forever. The shootout is executed very well, akin to an action scene from True Detective or something of the like. Later in the episode, Nacho must answer to Gus, however. The work he will do for Gus has only just begun, we feel.
As for Mike, he welcomes a meeting with the Chicken Man, and that is how the episode ends. Before that, we got some more really great acting work from Jonathan Banks with him calling out a phony man in his support group. We can see him gut-wrenched at the real story of a woman sitting next to him, and he relates to the pain she is going through with a lost loved one. Seeing someone bullshit their way towards sympathy in his support group infuriates him. Mike sells him out and bids him good riddance. The rest of the group is, of course, horrified. This is another scene for Mike that works because of how brilliantly it is played by Banks. His depiction of Mike Ehrmantraut is really one that will remain iconic in the halls of television history.
Overall, this is a largely forgettable episode because it does little to move the plot forward; however, I have done a fair job of enlightening myself with its strong points while thinking about it now. Perhaps the writing has reached a wall that they’re going to have to pivot their way around, but I suspect they will find a way to get this steady train rolling again. Even still, there are many scenes that are laid out so precisely and executed so brilliantly that I can’t help but still find a love in the show.