In the “Better Call Saul” recap, Jimmy receives an interesting offer from Howard, Kim is forced to call on Saul Goodman for help and Gus faces off with the DEA…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
One of the most brilliant aspects of “Better Call Saul” over the past five seasons is the way the writers behind this show were meticulous detailing everything that led Jimmy McGill to become Saul Goodman.
Perhaps the biggest driving factor was Jimmy’s contentious relationship with his brother Chuck, who once seemed like his biggest fan but in reality the senior McGill was the person holding him back more than anybody else. Chuck never saw his brother as anything more than “Slippin’ Jimmy” — the two bit con artist, who was constantly in trouble with the law yet someone who was still the favorite child amongst their parents.
While he didn’t know that there was a boot heel on his back the entire time he was trying to claw his way up the ladder of success, Jimmy saw Howard Hamlin as his greatest enemy but he was actually just doing Chuck’s bidding.
The latest episode of “Better Call Saul” brought that relationship full circle as Howard humbled himself by not only complimenting Jimmy as a real force of nature as a lawyer — once again bestowing the “Charlie Hustle” nickname upon him — but seeing him as a colleague for perhaps the first time ever. In fact, Howard has been so impressed by Jimmy that he wants him to join the firm at Hamlin-Hamlin-McGill.
A few years ago this is all Jimmy could imagine in his wildest dreams. Now after everything he’s gone through — visualized through four seasons of pain and suffering on this show — he no longer seems all that interested in working for Howard Hamlin. Instead, Jimmy has finally become his own man — and that man is Saul Goodman.
With that said, let’s get to our recap for the latest episode of “Better Call Saul” titled “Namaste”…
The Last Line of Defense
The morning after Jimmy and Kim shared a beer and then proceeded to toss several more down into the parking lot below their apartment begins with an unwelcome alarm and a slight hangover as they both get ready for work. As they prepare to leave, Jimmy and Kim each admit the previous day wasn’t the best for either of them but today will be better.
For Kim, her day involved some Mesa Verde work that forced her to kick a man out of his home so a growing bank could build their new call center on his land. Meanwhile, Jimmy was forced to become a personal attorney for Lalo Salamanca while orchestrating a sting operation to get one of his drug dealers out of trouble.
After reaching the parking lot and seeing the shattered glass from the broken bottles, Jimmy and Kim have a different reaction, which speaks to both of their characters. Jimmy shrugs it off and assures her that the apartment maintenance crew will clean it up and he’s off to work. A few moments later, Kim is pulling double duty by talking to her assistant over a Bluetooth while simultaneously sweeping up the broken bottles.
Jimmy’s never been big on taking responsibility for his actions while Kim can’t help but always try to do what’s right even if she takes a wrong turn or two to get there.
As for Jimmy’s day at work — he first meets with the two drug induced vandals, who took his 50 percent off to heart when they went on a crime spree around Albuquerque under the guise that Saul Goodman would get them out of trouble. Even with his best negotiating tactics, Saul tells his new clients that the best they can hope for is five months behind bars and a year of probation.
For this his fee will be $4,000.
At first the two knuckleheads scoff at the price but when he tells them they will likely be looking at a 10 year sentence if the public defender represents them, their tune changes in a hurry. What’s funny is that Jimmy used to be one of those public defenders but he’s come a long, long way since then.
After convincing the two meth heads to have grandma cough up the cash for his fees, Jimmy heads off to his lunch with Howard Hamlin at a posh, upscale eatery in downtown Albuquerque.
It’s clear at the start of the meal that Jimmy has no idea why Howard insisted on this lunch but he opens by asking his former mail clerk what Saul Goodman represents. Jimmy launches into one of his classic sales speeches where he talks about Saul as the slingshot that slays Goliath — the ultimate defender of the little guy who has been trampled by the system.
It all sounds good but Howard still wonders why Jimmy can’t do all of this under his own name? It’s clear he still doesn’t see the damage that Chuck inflicted upon his brother and how that last name is nothing but a reminder of the fractured relationship that Jimmy shared with his elder sibling right up to his death.
The conversation quickly turns to Howard offering Jimmy a job at HHM where he could be part of a firm now thriving again after the business was apparently failing just a few months earlier. Howard says he never had anything against Jimmy and he would have hired him long ago if not for Chuck’s influence.
Jimmy is stunned at the offer and Howard implores him to take some time before accepting or declining the job opportunity. As Howard drives away, Jimmy can’t help but spot the vanity plates reading “Namaste” — the title of tonight’s episode — on his luxury automobile.
It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to figure out that Jimmy doesn’t think much of Howard’s attempt to become enlightened based upon his license plate. In fact you can almost see the ire build up in Jimmy’s eyes as he watches Howard drive away. He’ll revisit that license plate before the episode is finished.
As for Kim, she does her best to convince the bosses at Mesa Verde that the alternate lot site across town will be an even better place to put their new call center. She’s doing her best to convince them that the secondary site will save them money in the long run not to mention an ugly public relations battle when kicking Mr. Acker out of his house after living on the land for more than 20 years.
The higher ups at Mesa Verde aren’t interested in Kim’s sales pitch and instead instruct her to move forward with Mr. Acker being moved off the land — even if that means the sheriff getting involved.
Just when it looks like Kim is out of options, she remembers the ace up her sleeve — the slingshot that’s ready to slay Goliath. In other words, she better call Saul.
At court later that day, Saul Goodman is at his best when he questions a clerk at a convenience store during a trial about a robbery. The clerk claims that Saul’s client purchased an Almond Joy and then reached over the counter and grabbed a fistful of cash before fleeing the scene. The clerk is positive that the man sitting next to Saul is the person he witnessed stealing from him.
That’s when Saul springs his trap — it seems the person sitting next to him was a different person entirely and his actual client was hidden amongst the gallery of people watching the trial unfold. The clerk just identified the wrong man as the assailant.
The judge quickly stops the line of questioning, dismisses the jury for the day and calls Saul into her chambers. When he emerges to find Kim waiting for him, Saul reveals that the judge has declared a mistrial, which means his client is free and clear of the charges.
It’s that kind of magic where Saul Goodman colors outside the lines that Kim needs in order to help Mr. Acker stave off Mesa Verde from taking his house.
Saul goes to pay a visit to Mr. Acker with another sales pitch — this time handing over a photograph of a man screwing a horse. The way Saul tells it, he’s got a grudge against Mesa Verde and he wants to make them pay and just like that photo, he’s going to do anything and everything possible to screw them.
Of course it stands to reason that Saul’s involvement will eventually get tied back to Kim and her desire to help Mr. Acker. Maybe this is a case of self-sabotage so Kim can break free of her corporate overlords and she can set out on her own with a new purpose of using the law the help those most in need.
Ever since this series started, Kim has been driven by ambition to succeed but it’s become abundantly clear in recent episodes that her morals are more important to her now than a fancy car or a nameplate on a door inside a six-story building housed with lawyers. Kim wants to help people — but sometimes justice isn’t on her side but she knows Jimmy always will be.
And before his day is finished, Jimmy caps off everything with a visit to Howard’s mansion, which hides behind gated walls. At the start of the episode, Jimmy was visiting a second hand store looking for something he could throw but it was never explained who or what he was planning to throw something at.
He ultimately picked up three bowling balls for $75.
Later that night at Howard’s house, Jimmy tosses those bowling balls over his front gate in hopes of tagging that expensive car with the license plate that reads “Namaste.”. Like a real like game of “Battleship,” Jimmy scores two direct hits before fleeing off into the night. When Howard comes out onto his balcony, he sees his car has been smashed and the serenity he’s been feeling has been shattered just like his back window.
Need Some Help
After Lalo Salamanca used one of his own drug dealers being arrested to then orchestrate a hit on Gus Fring’s drug operation, the “Chicken Man” is forced to play defense following the revelation of this plan by Nacho Varga.
Lalo hired Saul Goodman, who in turn helped get Krazy-8 out of trouble by having him turn informant. Krazy-8 then fed Hank Schraeder and Steve Gomez a list of three dead drops where dealers would go pick up money for drug buys. Krazy-8 didn’t just give them any dead drops — he gave them locations where Gus Fring’s dealers pick up and drop off money.
Changing the locations or avoiding the DEA’s sting operation would reveal that Gus has an inside man working with Lalo Salamanca so he has to let things move forward while controlling the situation as best he can.
Gus sits in the back of his restaurant waiting for a call while Victor helps one of their dealers go through the various drops with Hank and Gomey watching from an SUV parked in the distance to watch it all go down.
Because Gus is a man who loves to control every situation, he’s on the verge of frenzy knowing that he can’t manipulate things to his favor this time around. His frustration boils over as he berates an employee named Lyle, one of the managers at Los Pollos Hermanos, who doesn’t seem nearly as concerned about a less than perfectly clean fryer inside the restaurant.
As Lyle pours sweat and rubs his skin raw with steel wool as he cleans every inch of this fryer, Gus sits calmly in the back waiting for the call to come. When the phone eventually rings, he finds out that the cops have seized $700,000 of his money but Victor managed to rescue the dealer before Hank and Gomey could capture him, too.
Gus is a man who rarely shows emotion but there was no mistaking the seething animosity simmering just under the surface during this entire operation. Finally after hearing the results of the DEA sting, Gus returns to the kitchen where he finds Lyle anxiously awaiting his approval after scrubbing down this fryer.
Rather than offering praise, Gus tells him that he did an adequate enough job and Lyle trots home for the night. After just losing nearly a million dollars thanks to Lalo Salamanca’s treachery, adequate is just about all that Gus can muster for now as he contemplates his retaliation.
And finally we catch up with Mike Ehrmantraut, who has been dealing with serious rage issues ever since he was forced to execute Werner Ziegler at the close of “Better Call Saul” season 4. He’s felt guilty ever since pulling that trigger but now Mike has started lashing out at those closest to him.
The first real sign of his anger came at the expense of his granddaughter Kaylee after she began pressing him on questions about her father. Mike has never gotten past the guilt of his son being killed thanks to his own dirty dealings as a cop in Philadelphia and Kaylee’s questions only managed to open up old wounds that had never quite healed in the first place.
When Mike arrives for his babysitting duty the following week, his daughter-in-law tells him that she already hired someone else to watch Kaylee for the night. She can’t help but wonder what’s happening with Mike because his demeanor has been off these past few weeks. She suggests that perhaps he needs to get some help, which Mike all but shrugs off as he leaves her house.
Later that night, Mike decides to walk back down the same street where a group of thugs had jumped him previously and he fought them off by snapping the arm of one of his attackers. This time around, Mike is inviting a fight and the thugs jump at the opportunity for revenge.
It seems Mike wasn’t itching for a fight — he wanted to get beaten down.
The self-induced punishment ends with Mike getting a knife to the belly as the world goes dark on him. It’s not clear if he hoped to wake up again but eventually Mike does open his eyes to find himself bandaged up and laying on a strange bed somewhere he doesn’t recognized.
When he finally rises up and makes his way outside, Mike has been taken to a small compound out in the desert with no sense of where he’s at or what he’s doing there. Is this Gus Fring saving Mike’s life? Is this part of what eventually turns Mike into Gus’ right hand man? We’ll hopefully find out more when “Better Call Saul” returns next week with a new episode at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.