In the ‘Better Call Saul’ recap, Jimmy plots his revenge against Chuck, Mike contemplates a future away from crime and Gus gets to Hector Salamanca…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
One of the best parts about ‘Better Call Saul’ through two-plus seasons hasn’t just been the transformation of Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman, but the microscope that’s allowed viewers a much deeper look at many of the characters who only got a glimpse on ‘Breaking Bad’ over five seasons.
As tremendous as ‘Breaking Bad’ was, the story ultimately circled around Walter White because the entire show was based upon the concept of watching Mr. Chips turn into Scarface over the course of two years. Of course what also made ‘Breaking Bad’ one of the best television shows in history were the amazing array of characters surrounding Walter White from Jesse Pinkman to Hank Schrader and everyone else in between.
Because the story was so centralized to Walter, there wasn’t that much time to add more depth to somebody like Mike Ehrmantraut, who was an enforcer and business partner but also happened to be a doting grandfather in his spare time. What ‘Better Call Saul’ has allowed over two seasons is to explore Mike’s past while also delving into his relationships and how he ended up serving as Gus Fring’s right hand man by the time we meet him in ‘Breaking Bad’.
This week’s episode of ‘Better Call Saul’ managed to go even deeper into some other characters including an even better understanding of the disdain shared between Gus Fring and Hector Salamanca as well as the return of Don Eladio — who perished in ‘Breaking Bad’ season four thanks to Gus’ poison — as well as Juan Bolsa — who Gus managed to kill in a sting operation he helped set into motion in Mexico.
It’s all a fascinating dive into these characters in an episode where Jimmy and Kim don’t even pop up until it’s already halfway over.
The show may be titled ‘Better Call Saul’ but really this is a story that explores every facet of life before ‘Breaking Bad’ and might just be the best prequel that’s ever been made.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Better Call Saul’ titled ‘Sabrosito’…
The Winking Greek
As the episode begins, it’s a true call back to a very famous scene from ‘Breaking Bad’ as we see drug kingpin Don Eladio Vuente diving into his pool in the backyard where he will eventually choke and die thanks to some poisoned liquor handed to him by Gus Fring.
During these days, Don Eladio is the head of the powerful Juarez drug cartel and he’s receiving a visit from Hector Salamanca, who has arrived with a pair of presents for his boss. Hector has just purchased an ice cream company that transports goods from Mexico to the United States, which will provide him a perfect system to bring their drugs across the border without any suspicion. As an homage, Hector even named the business “El Griego Guinador”, which is Spanish for “The Winking Greek” and it also happens to be Don Eladio’s nickname. Hector then pours out a bag full of cash onto the table to show his boss how the new business is already flourishing.
De Eladio seems pleased, but he’s made even happier when Juan Bolsa shows up with an even better present. Bolsa arrives with three gigantic bags filled with cage — stacked neatly and packed in plastic wrap — along with a t-shirt from Los Pollos Hermanos. At this point, Bolsa is working directly with Gus Fring on his drug business in the United States and they are pulling in money faster and faster with each passing day.
The money makes Don Eladio very happy while it also puts egg onto Hector’s face because he’s admonished for not stacking his cash quite as neatly not to mention he hasn’t produced with the same success as Gus Fring has been doing for the cartel. This is just another subtle jab from Gus thanks to his extreme hatred for Hector after he was the person who murdered his partner and by all accounts the man he loved, Max Arciniega, back when he originally tried to strike a deal with the cartel.
Gus is a man driven by revenge but he’s also patient, especially considering how he eventually kills both Don Eladio and Juan Bolsa for their part in Max’s death as well but much later down the road.
Hector needs a new way to get his drugs into the country thanks to Mike getting his ice cream transportation business busted by the border patrol last week. Hector is already falling behind Gus when it comes to adoration from Don Eladio, but now he has no way to get his supply into the United States after his business was shut down as witnessed by the DEA agents raiding his shop in New Mexico.
Hector decides to take his fight directly to the competition when he shows up at Los Pollos Hermanos and demands to see Gus Fring. Rather than wait for him to appear, Hector makes himself at home by lighting up a stogie and then letting himself into the back office while his men — including Nacho and another thug — hold the employees inside the restaurant.
When Gus gets the call about the emergency at work — while he’s doing philanthropy for the local fire department — he rushes back to the restaurant.
He quickly dispatches his employees before confronting Hector in the back office.
Hector flaunts his power over Gus by telling him that his Los Pollos Hermanos trucks will now be used to transport his drugs across the border now that the ice cream business has been shut down. Despite Gus’ objections, Hector reminds him that he represents the cartel and what he says goes. Through all of this, Hector cleans dog shit off his shoe, while flicking specks of it all over Gus’ desk as a further sign of disrespect.
On the surface this might seem like Hector is retaliating against Gus, but it’s clear this was all part of the plan. Gus knew that Hector would overreact because he has to produce for Don Eladio or risk his own execution at the hands of the cartel. Making such a public and brazen move against Gus will only further the cause that Hector is no longer stable enough to run things in his territory.
Needless to say this is just another step in Gus eliminating Hector from his life — or at least damaging him to the point where he’s sitting in a wheelchair, unable to speak and only hitting that damn bell over and over again.
The next day after the encounter at the restaurant, Gus tells a story to his employees about the men who took them captive were the same ones who shook him down for money when he first started his business in Mexico. He says they’ve now come back for more, but this time he refused to pay them. After all, this is America and here good, honest businessmen don’t have to cater to common thugs and bullies.
Gus’ speech is so empowering he even gets an ovation from his employees.
There’s no way I’m alone in rooting for Gus Fring, right?
Following his trip to Mexico to ruin Hector Salamanca a week ago, Mike Ehrmantraut is satisfied with his work in bringing down the man who dared to threaten his family. He celebrates by having dinner with his granddaughter Kaylee and daughter-in-law Stacey, but it’s a somber moment.
Deep inside, Mike knows that he paid for this home and the school where Kaylee attends with blood money — the same kind that got his son killed back in Philadelphia.
When Victor shows up at the tollbooth the next night with a bag full of cash to give to Mike for his part in destroying Hector’s drug running business, he politely declines the payment. Mike insists that he’s even now — meaning he just wanted to make Hector pay for threatening his family and it wasn’t about money.
Meanwhile at the law offices of McGill and Wexler, Kim has been tearing through the phone book all day looking for a handyman. Not just any handyman, but the person Chuck McGill hired to fix the damaged door that Jimmy kicked in a few days ago.
It’s all part of an elaborate plan they have concocted that will get Jimmy free of the impending doom looming over his head when the Bar Association hears about his felony arrest for breaking and entering, assault and destruction of property.
Jimmy gets Mike to pose as the handyman as a return favor for his trip into Los Pollos Hermanos a couple of weeks back. Mike shows up at Chuck’s house to fix the door but has to use a loud electric drill to get the work done. The noise bothers Chuck so much that he flees upstairs to get away from it, which gives Mike the perfect opportunity he needs to take photos and gather information from inside the house.
When Mike meets up with Jimmy, he hands over the pictures — while being called the ‘Ansel Adams of covert photography — along with a vital piece of information that he took from Chuck’s address book on his desk. Jimmy makes sure that Mike also actually fixed the door so that Chuck wouldn’t have any suspicions raised. Mike assures him that the job got done because it was nice to just fix something for once. Mike is still lamenting about how he’s been earning a living lately and it’s clear he’s teetering on a major decision on whether he’s going to play inside the rules or outside the law.
That decision is seemingly made for him later that night when Gus Fring makes a personal visit to his tollbooth after Mike turned down the payment for putting an end to Hector’s drug running business. Mike explains that it was a personal vendetta and now it’s been satisfied.
Gus then explains why he stopped Mike from shooting Hector in the first place — because a bullet to the brain was too quick and easy for him. Hector needs to suffer and judging by his condition in ‘Breaking Bad’, Gus certainly got his revenge.
Gus then suggests that Mike should work for him, which earns him a reply that he might be interested depending on the job. Obviously we know that Mike winds up as one of Gus’ most loyal and trusted allies, but as he read through a handyman magazine just before his future boss arrived at the tollbooth, you have to feel a certain sense of sadness that he didn’t choose to just fix things, especially when considering how it all ended for him.
Jimmy and Kim head to the mediation where he will sign his confession to the pre-prosecution diversion program so he avoids any jail time. It’s clear from the interaction Chuck has with District Attorney Haye that this wasn’t going to turn out well for Jimmy unless he signed this confession so the criminal act would be put behind him.
Jimmy knows that all Chuck really wants is for him to be disbarred so he can no longer practice law so this is more about formality than anything else.
During the proceedings, Kim argues to keep the language non-specific about the property that Jimmy destroyed when breaking into Chuck’s house, although he’s insistent that restitution be paid exactly — including the $2.93 charge for the cassette tape that was mangled during his tirade through the house.
After signing off on the deal, the D.A. even insists that Jimmy look his brother in the eye and offer an apology for his actions. Jimmy follows through but once again never specifically mentions the tape or what he said to his brother on there.
Once the proceedings are finished, the D.A. reminds Jimmy that this decision will then be handed over to the Bar Association, who will have a hearing about his standing as a lawyer in New Mexico in the near future. As everyone exits, Howard and Chuck are smug in victory but Kim interrupts them by explaining that she will be filing a motion to disregard the taped confession from Jimmy during the hearing with the Bar Association.
The entire point of the conversation isn’t to disclose that information to Chuck, but instead Kim gets him to confess that another copy of the tape exists “under lock and key”. She turns away but then gets a giant smirk on her face when reuniting with Jimmy in the hallway.
Judging by their reaction it would seem that perhaps Mike stole the information about where Chuck is keeping this secret recording and they plan on using that against him during the Bar Association hearing. Jimmy conceded to the crime, but he’s not going to give up his law license quite so easily and that’s really the only thing Chuck wanted sacrificed during this entire ordeal.
Now it’s Kim and Jimmy going up against Chuck at the Bar Association meeting but it shouldn’t take many guesses to figure out who comes out on top.
‘Better Call Saul’ returns with a new episode next Monday night at 10pm ET on AMC