In the “Better Call Saul” recap, Jimmy begins wheeling and dealing in his new practice as Saul Goodman and Gus Fring puts pressure on Nacho to get closer to Lalo Salamanca…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
If you’ve never read the book “Seinfeldia” by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, it’s a fascinating look behind the scenes for arguably the greatest sitcom in television history. As the author reveals in the book, one of the edicts on “Seinfeld” from creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld was that the four main characters on the show — Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer — all had to engage in storylines that would eventually tie back together during each and every episode. That way Jerry’s problems became George’s problems and Elaine’s mishap would somehow draw Kramer into the mix as well.
You get the idea.
In the world of “Better Call Saul,” creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan are obviously following the “Seinfeld” game plan because from the very first episode, the characters on this show have found new and interesting ways to interact with each other prior to Saul Goodman’s initial meeting with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in “Breaking Bad.”
Long before he took on the “Saul Goodman” moniker, Jimmy McGill was a down-on-his-luck attorney trying to drum up business and he accidentally got involved in a scam that landed him in the crosshairs of New Mexico drug lord, Tuco Salamanca.
When Tuco was ready to take off Jimmy’s head for accidentally scheming his grandmother, it was his soldier Nacho Varga, who ultimately talked him out of the execution. Nacho ended up calling on Jimmy’s services again in the future and now a few seasons later, he’s the underboss to the Salamanca empire working directly below Hector Salamanca’s nephew, Lalo. Of course, Lalo has no idea that Nacho is actually under the thumb of Gustavo Fring, who has a long standing grudge against Hector and the entire Salamanca clan, but that’s a story for a different day.
In part two of a special two night kick off for “Better Call Saul” season 5, Jimmy is just getting his law practice up and running again under his new guise as Saul Goodman when his good fortune runs out after Nacho comes calling for his services again. We already know when Saul gets dragged out into a shallow grave by Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in a faux execution in order to scare him in “Breaking Bad” season 2, the slippery lawyer screams out that these must be Lalo’s men.
It’s safe to say, Jimmy’s dealings with the Salamanca family are far from finished and judging by his interaction with Nacho at the end of the latest episode, he will soon be meeting the infamous Lalo in the very near future.
Before we get to that, let’s recap the rest of the latest episode of “Better Call Saul” titled “50% Off”…
The episode kicks off with the night Saul Goodman began his new law practice inside a circus tent by handing out free cell phones with his number pre-programmed into the speed dial just in case any of his clients were in need of legal services. After running out of phones, Jimmy in his best Saul pitch gives out business cards to everybody waiting in line while telling them that for the next two weeks they can retain his services at a 50 percent discount for any non-violent felony offenses. There were plenty of takers — including a pair of meth-heads, who just couldn’t wait to commit as many crimes as possible just to take advantage of Saul’s discount.
So these two chuckleheads run rampant over Albuquerque — stealing groceries and yard gnomes — while constantly making stops at a drug dealer to pick up more meth. The drug dealer is the same one we met in the “Better Call Saul” season debut where the tweakers pay a price, the dealer then signals to his contact inside the building and the meth-heads pick up their drugs from a drain pipe that runs outside.
The two meth-heads go back and forth between causing havoc and picking up new drugs while shouting “50%” wherever they go. In the “Seinfeld” twist of this episode, these speed freaks end up as the tie that binds just about everybody else back together. More on that later.
That same morning, Jimmy McGill is ironing his suit and talking over his phone to new potential clients. He watches as Kim struggles to find her own clothes buried behind a slew of pastel colored shirts that now decorate Saul Goodman’s wardrobe. To say their relationship is strained would be an understatement as Kim struggles to deal with Jimmy’s moral flexibility, especially when it comes to his interpretation of the law.
After revealing that her mini-fridge stealing client took the deal with the District Attorney, while failing to reveal that she used Jimmy’s tactics to get him to agree, Kim tells her boyfriend that she can no longer commit to these schemes no matter how much it might help. She doesn’t want to lie to her clients and Kim needs Jimmy to understand that.
He agrees as she shuffles off to work.
Before she can pull out of the apartment complex, Jimmy rushes into the car and asks her to go somewhere with him before her shift begins.
Jimmy leads her to an open house for a home in the neighborhood that’s up for sale. She scoffs at the idea at first but he convinces her to take a look. The tension between them starts to dissipate as Kim marvels at the giant walk-in closet and she even manages to prank Jimmy when she turns out the steam shower to get him all wet.
As they leave, Kim knows this isn’t an affordable living solution for them right now but Jimmy just wants to pitch her on the idea. She tells him “maybe someday” and that’s the only glimmer of hope that Jimmy needs to begin putting this fractured relationship back together again.
When Nacho Varga switched medicines on Hector Salamanca, he thought he was getting rid of his biggest problem. Little did he know that sending Hector into that wheelchair permanently only exacerbated his issues because now Nacho is beholding to Gus Fring while still working for the Salamanca’s — this time answering the beck and all of Lalo Salamanca.
Lalo was suspicious of Gus Fring before he arrived in New Mexico and his curiosity has only grown stronger in recent weeks.
A visit to Hector in his nursing home has Lalo bouncing ideas off his uncle because he’s convinced that Gus has more going on with his construction project than just some cooler to store his chicken for Los Pollos Hermanos. Is it a tunnel? A new lab? Lalo can’t be certain but he knows there’s more to the story than Gus is telling them.
Unfortunately, Lalo has to be careful when going after Gus because the cartel still considers him an asset because he is a top earner. As long as Gus is funneling money back to Don Eladio, the cartel will protect him from retribution by the Salamanca family.
Meanwhile, Nacho gets a rude wake up call of his own when he gets kidnapped by Gus’ men and taken to his father’s place of business. With Victor hanging around while Nacho’s father plays cards, Gus makes his appearance and asks about Lalo Salamanca’s plans since arriving in Albuquerque.
Nacho tells him about Lalo’s obsession with a man named “Werner Ziegler” and a gringo soldier named “Michael” but outside of that he’s heard nothing. Gus then instructs Nacho to report back to him everything Lalo does, where he goes and who he sees — and to ensure all of this happens in a timely fashion, Nacho needs to get close to Lalo and earn his trust.
The next night while playing card with the whole Salamanca crew, Domingo aka Krazy-8 gets a call about a problem at one of their drug dens. The two 50% off idiots from the start of the episode showed back up to buy 10 packs of meth but sadly their drugs got stuck in the drain pipe and the ruckus is causing a scene where things are supposed to stay nice and quiet.
Nacho tasks Krazy-8 to deal with the problem so he leaves the card game bound for the drug operation in his territory.
When Krazy-8 arrives, he struggles to get the drugs knocked loose from the drain pipe and right on schedule, the police show up to find out what’s going on. All of Krazy-8’s dealers and the two meth-heads make a run for it, leaving him behind to deal with the cops — and wouldn’t you know it that’s when the drain pipe gets unstuck and the drugs finally fall to the ground.
With the police out in full force, Lalo and Nacho arrive to watch Krazy-8 get arrested as the cops begin sniffing around the drug den. The dealers tell Lalo and Nacho that they had almost a full load inside the apartment, which means the Salamanca’s stand to lose considerable money if the cops seize this property. That’s when Nacho sees an opportunity to get in the good graces of Lalo by jumping out of the car and running towards the drug den to retrieve their goods.
Nacho engages in some parkour stunts to get to the roof before breaking into the apartment, stealing the drugs and escaping again before the cops discover him. He makes it back to the car with the drugs, much to the delight of his new boss Lalo.
The next day, Lalo begins bringing Nacho closer to his inner circle as he makes them some food as they begin discussing what to do with Krazy-8 now that he’s in custody. Nacho assures him that Krazy-8 won’t snitch but Lalo seems less than convinced. Nacho has a plan to get Krazy-8 out of trouble — and it might require the services of New Mexico’s latest slick dealing lawyer.
Sins of the Father
Since first arriving on “Better Call Saul,” Mike Ehrmantraut has been haunted by his past after he helped his son Matty follow in his footsteps as a dirty cop on the take. Matty was eventually killed and while Mike avenged his death, he’s forever paying for the guilt of putting his son in the line of fire in the first place.
After retiring (again) following Werner’s murder and turning down Gus Fring’s offer of a retainer, Mike is back on babysitting duty when his daughter-in-law asks him to watch Kaylee after she’s called into work.
The playdate with pop-pop starts out great with Mike helping Kaylee with her multiplication tables as the two of them work on building her treehouse. Things turn sour when Kaylee begins asking questions about her father and when she finally asks about the bad men who killed him, Mike lashes out at his granddaughter.
At the end of the night when Stacey returns home, Mike storms out angry and tells her that Kaylee has been in her bedroom all night and she won’t come out. Mike is still dealing with a lot of repressed anger and blame for his role in Matty’s death and for the first time in a long while, he was reminded about his part in all of that as Kaylee questioned him about her father.
Let’s Make a Deal
Jimmy’s new business as Saul Goodman is already booming as he spends most of his day at the courthouse prepping for all the ways he can plea his clients out of trouble. He fixes one case with a prosecutor while simultaneously adding new clients to his roster while talking over the phone. With 45 clients already on the docket, Jimmy has a lot on his plate but that’s the only way he knows how to build a fledgling business.
He tries desperately to move up a meeting with D.A. Suzanne Erickson — the woman who tried and failed to bring Huell to trial last season — because she’s prosecuting 16 of his clients. When she rebuffs his offer to meet before next week, Jimmy has to figure out a way to plea down these deals or he can’t take on many more clients.
Thankfully, Jimmy manages to get stuck in an elevator with Suzanne after it conveniently breaks down between floors. Rather than hear Jimmy recite his opening statement for an upcoming trial, Suzanne offers to speak to him about some of these pending cases they have in common.
20 minutes later, Jimmy has managed to wheel and deal his way to closing out 13 of the 16 cases, which means he only has a few more left to go when he gets his actual meeting with Suzanne the following week. After leaving the elevator, Jimmy hands an envelope of cash to the building repair man who set up this little impromptu meeting. Jimmy also promises to keep this guy’s nephew out of jail as part of their deal.
With 13 cases closed and more clients pouring in by the hour, Jimmy is having a pretty good day. He even manages to blow off Howard Hamlin after his former boss stops and asks him if he’d like to have lunch later that week. Is it possible Howard was going to invite Jimmy back into his firm? We may never know — or at least not for now.
As for Jimmy, he finishes his day talking with another client on his bluetooth while chowing down on a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone as a reward for all his hard work. It turns out his day wasn’t over just yet after a car pulls up alongside him and Jimmy locks eyes with Nacho Varga for the first time since season 1 — and our “Seinfeldia” connection for this episode is complete.
Nacho tells Jimmy that his services are required and he might want to leave that ice cream cone behind because they’ve got business to discuss. That means Jimmy will be tasked with keeping Krazy-8 out of jail after the drug bust.
Jimmy’s past has come back to haunt him several times in this series but getting drawn into Lalo Salamanca’s web will likely be one regret he’ll never forget.
“Better Call Saul” returns with a brand new episode next Monday night at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.