In the “Better Call Saul” recap, Kim feels like she’s being followed, Jimmy finds out representing Lalo Salamanca is both a blessing and a curse while Gus goes to extreme lengths to protect himself…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s hard to believe this deep into six seasons of “Better Call Saul” that two of the series main characters had never crossed paths until now but that’s exactly what unfolded in the latest episode.
Kim Wexler and Mike Ehrmantraut have been traveling the same circles for quite some time — obviously connected through Jimmy McGill — but the two didn’t actually speak to one another outside of a casual hello out a toll booth outside the Albuquerque courthouse until Tuesday night’s installment in the final season of the “Breaking Bad” prequel.
For what was ultimately a subdued but very important scene, the gravitas carried by Rhea Seehorn and Jonathan Banks — a pair of actors who both deserve shelves full of Emmy statues — was taut with tension while they each gave exactly what was needed throughout what was ultimately a two minute encounter.
Mike’s arrival into Kim’s life wasn’t with invitation but rather provocation because Gus Fring’s fixer is nothing if not a man who prefers to live in the shadows but with Lalo Salamanca escaping the hit squad sent to kill him, there’s a rogue and wounded killer in the wind and it’s impossible to predict where he might end up next.
Gus Fring knows this all too well, which speaks to his level of paranoia on display when he returns with the knowledge that Lalo is very much alive.
While Kim and Mike’s encounter was the highlight of the episode, Jimmy also found out something about his past business with Lalo when he returned to the courthouse to discover that getting a known cartel boss out of jail so he could escape custody on a murder charge won’t exactly win you any favors with the people sworn to uphold the law. Then again, Jimmy’s maneuver also starts to build his reputation amongst the criminals in New Mexico and that’s nothing but good for his business.
Finally, Jimmy and Kim continue the long game involving Howard Hamlin’s downfall with a rather hilarious attempt to make him look like he’s spinning out of control while graduating from cocaine benders to hosting prostitutes in his Jaguar at 2pm on a weekday. It will be fascinating to see where this all ends up, especially considering Howard’s name was never mentioned at all during “Breaking Bad.”
With that said, let’s get to our full recap for the latest episode of “Better Call Saul” titled “Hit and Run”…
The latest in a coordinated attack to bring down Howard Hamlin takes place this week as Jimmy and Kim work together after copying the keys to his Namaste-mobile in order to borrow it for a ride while he’s going through his latest round of therapy. While Howard is talking things out about an unhappy home life with his wife, Jimmy and Kim are working really hard to tear him down even further.
When Jimmy shows up to take the car — dressed in a Howard-like suit with too much bronzer on his face and a wig with plenty of platinum tips — he gets away clean before arriving at a run down motel where he picks up his co-conspirator in this latest scheme. Jimmy’s partner is none other than Wendy — the prostitute who has frequented both “Breaking Bad” (it’s hard to forget her encounters with Jesse much less serving as a way to scare Walt Jr. straight) and “Better Call Saul” — and now she’s climbing into Howard’s Jaguar for a quick ride across town.
At a nearby restaurant, Kim is sitting down to lunch with Cliff Main, who is really the target of this entire ordeal because he’s meant to continue questioning if Howard is really keeping things together or if he’s actually falling apart.
Kim uses a pitch about Cliff opening a pro bono part of his lawfirm that would assist those less fortunate and who cannot afford attorneys that cost hundreds of dollars per hour for criminal defense. While it’s meant as a distraction until Jimmy arrives in Howard’s car, it turns out Cliff is actually open to the idea.
It seems Cliff actually sympathizes with people stuck in the system with no way out other than a public defender who likely couldn’t negotiate an escape from a house with no doors or windows. He’s interested in Kim’s proposal, which isn’t what she expected.
It’s just about then that Jimmy comes tearing around the corner, wheels screeching as the car spins around and finally comes to a stop before kicking Wendy to the curb. She screams at him to pay what he owes before Jimmy hits the gas before anybody is wiser to what’s happening.
Cliff is awestruck at what he just witnessed while realizing that was Howard Hamlin’s car.
Now Cliff has seen Howard drop cocaine out of his locker at the country club and he’s witnessed a prostitute getting the boot from his car. It’s all starting to add up that perhaps Howard isn’t the upstanding lawyer he paints himself to be.
As for Jimmy, he returns to the therapist’s office to find that the cone he had blocking the parking space has been taken so he has to rush to put Howard’s car back before he gets out of his session. Jimmy ends up putting the car in a non-parking spot marked off but then moves a sign that says ‘Patients Only” and when Howard arrives a few seconds later, he doesn’t even notice that his Jaguar has been moved.
As for Kim, she returns Wendy to her hotel when the prostitute notices a car pulling up across the street and she recognizes that as an unmarked police vehicle, which means her business is done for the day. Kim offers to help Wendy if she ever needs it at no additional cost but then as she pulls away, she notices that the car at the hotel starts following behind her.
Kim continues to look out her rearview mirror until the car finally makes a sudden turn as if they noticed that she noticed them.
Back at home, Jimmy tells Kim everything that happened and she remarks that Cliff seemed open to her pro bono idea, which wasn’t the answer she was expecting. Jimmy also jokes about the wicked things they are doing to Howard and that prompts Kim to perhaps question for the first time that what they’re doing to Howard might be wrong.
You’re Salamanca’s Guy
Back at court the next day, Jimmy arrives for all his various work but he discovers that the employees who used to greet him with a smile and a wave are no longer that courteous to him. Instead, he’s forced to go through security like everybody else and the clerk at the scheduling office isn’t interested in his bribes of Beanie babies in exchange to have a preliminary hearing date changed.
Finally Jimmy tracks down Bill Oakley — a deputy district attorney who has been his pal since the first season — and he’s the one to explain what’s happening. It seems the word is out that Jimmy helped a dangerous cartel kingpin like Lalo Salamanca escape custody while using an assumed name so he could evade a murder charge that was hanging over his head.
In the past, Jimmy was always endearing to all those people at the courthouse because despite his quirks and tendency to side step the law whenever necessary, he was still ultimately harmless for the most part. Now Jimmy has committed an act that these people can’t forgive and he’s being treated as a pariah that became nothing more than a pawn of a criminal cartel.
As damaging as that might seem, Jimmy also discovers there are plenty of advantages to this story about Lalo’s escape getting leaked.
With his phone blowing up all day, Jimmy returns to the nail salon where he’s greeted by dozens of people seeking justice for all by hiring Saul Goodman. While Mrs. Nguyen is losing her mind about all these criminals flooding her business, Jimmy finds out that being a friend to the cartel can be great for business.
He even gets introduced to Splooge — a criminal you should remember from “Breaking Bad” after he stole meth from Skinny Pete, gets confronted by a gun toting Jesse Pinkman and then gets his head crushed by a stolen ATM tipped over on top of him by his abusive wife. In these days, Splooge is looking much better and he’s seeking an audience with Albuquerque’s newest celebrity criminal defense attorney.
It may be harder for Jimmy to find anyone to sit with him at lunch at the courthouse but he might not have much time to eat any longer with his paying client list growing exponentially larger by the day.
Paranoia, Paranoia, Everybody’s Coming to Get Me
The start of the episode actually centers around a house that we come to know as Gustavo Fring’s main residence — including the kitchen where he will one day cook dinner for Walter White — because he’s now living in full blown paranoia knowing that Lalo Salamanca is alive and undoubtedly gunning for him.
Gus’ paranoia runs so deep that he’s actually purchased another home in the neighborhood, built a tunnel between the two houses along with a full surveillance team that keeps a watchful eye on anything and everything happening around him.
Mike has set up security with his guys working 18 hours days just in case Lalo is crazy enough to return but two weeks have passed and there’s been no sign of him. Of course, Gus is so meticulous that he needs a replacement for the person stationed at his Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant because the guy can’t cook chicken worth a damn.
Despite Mike’s assurances that Lalo is nowhere near, Gus can’t even contemplate shutting down this operation until his enemy has been stuffed out once and for all.
The hunt for Lalo Salamanca also explains the car following Kim Wexler around town.
After another meeting at the El Camino restaurant, Kim notices that same car parked across the street but this time she decides to go confront the people inside. She takes down a license plate number and asks why the men are following her but they just stay quiet and wish her a good day before driving away.
When Kim finally prepares to leave for the day as she pays her bill, she’s introduced to the person who instructed those men to follow wherever she goes. Enter Mike Ehrmantraut, who has sanctioned a team to keep an eye on anybody who Lalo might try to contact considering he’s very much alive and likely gunning for Gus Fring.
While Gus doesn’t expect Lalo to try and get in touch with Kim or Jimmy, he can’t take any chances, which is why that car will continue to follow her until this situation has been handled. Kim asks about Mike’s employer but he calmly tells her that he can only answer some of her questions but not all of them — but she at least figures out his identity rather quickly.
Kim: “You’re the guy from the desert. The one who was out there with Jimmy. Why are you telling me this and not him?”
Mike: “Because I think you’re made of sterner stuff. Here’s what’s best for everyone. You spot my guys again, which I’m hoping you won’t, let them go about their business. Just pretend they’re not there and pretty soon they won’t be. You and your husband, just go on living your lives.”
Mike has seen firsthand how Jimmy is capable of spinning out of control while he heard over the phone when Kim intervened with Lalo after he arrived at their apartment lobbing accusations about what really happened in the desert when his attorney was sent to retrieve $7 million in bail money. Through that ordeal, Mike learned Kim has a steely resolve and an almost unshakable demeanor, something he can’t say about her other half.
Still when Mike gets up from the counter to leave, Kim is left shaking because she knows there’s no safety and security when Lalo Salamanca is still lurking nearby. Just before he leaves the restaurant, Kim also realizes where she’s seen Mike before — he used to be the guy sitting in the tollbooth outside the Bernalillo County Courthouse.
Later that night, Kim meets up with Jimmy at an all too familiar strip mall that will eventually become a fixture on “Breaking Bad” in seasons to come.
Jimmy reveals that Mrs. Nguyen has kicked him to the curb and he needs to get his own office, which is where this run down location comes into play. While it’s not ideal, Jimmy’s chosen spot sits just five blocks away from the courthouse, the row of bail bonds shops is just one street over and there’s a taco place in the same plaza.
Jimmy even jokes that this will be a temporary setting after talking the landlord into month-to-month rent until he finds better offices. Obviously we know Jimmy will never call another place home for his law practice until he’s forced to abandon being an attorney after going on the run when Walter White is exposed as the southwest’s biggest drug kingpin.
During their conversation, Kim also fails to mention that she met Mike for the first time much less the warning he gave her about Lalo Salamanca being alive but the day will surely come soon when Jimmy realizes that his biggest client has returned to New Mexico.
“Better Call Saul” will return for a new episode next Monday night at 9 p.m. on AMC.