In the “Better Call Saul” recap, Jimmy gets in a fight, Kim can’t help but wonder what’s just around the corner and Lalo returns…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
One of the best aspects of “Better Call Saul” and “Breaking Bad” before it is the meticulous way that series creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan place breadcrumbs throughout various episodes with the express purpose of those eventually leading to something later on.
There was no better example of that than the long awaited return of Lalo Salamanca in the latest episode after he last appeared in Mexico following the attempted hit on his life. Lalo was initially headed back to the United States — most likely driven by a shortsighted thirst for revenge against Gus Fring that he had to know would never be satiated — but instead he pops up in Germany because he’s not only the most intelligent Salamanca in history, he’s also the most cunning.
Lalo knows going directly after Gus is essentially a death wish, especially with the Mexican cartel still backing him. So now Lalo is revisiting an investigation he first launched after arriving in New Mexico while trying to discover what Gus has been doing behind the cartel’s back.
In his search to find that Gus was building a massive super-lab beneath an industrial laundry, Lalo ended up killing a man that eventually came back to bite him with an arrest where he was forced to flee the country. Now Lalo is revisiting that same mission by traveling to Germany to visit the widow of the man he was hunting back then with hopes that she’ll provide him with just enough clues to find out what her husband was doing while under Gus’ employ.
Is Lalo trying to launch a sneak attack on Gus or perhaps attempting to expose what the “Chicken Man” is doing without the cartel’s knowledge? Considering Lalo is pronounced dead on “Breaking Bad” and Gus gets his super-lab up and running before executing Don Eladio in Mexico, it’s difficult to believe that any of these plans end up being successful but you have to give credit where credit is due when it comes to his execution up to this point.
In this instance, Lalo is playing a brilliant game of chess but it’s likely that his opponent in Gus Fring is nothing short of a grandmaster — at least until he goes up against Walter White.
With that said, let’s get to our full recap for the latest episode of “Better Call Saul” titled “Black and Blue”…
A Jimmy McGill Problem
When Mike Ehrmantraut confronted Kim Wexler to reveal to her that Lalo Salamanca was still very much alive, he told her as opposed to her husband because he was convinced she was made of “sterner stuff” and could deal with this news appropriately.
While he may be right in the long run, Kim is still not crazy enough to feel safe from a known murderer and cartel ringleader, who once stood in the middle of her living room lobbing threats at them. Kim outfoxed him once but she’s not even attempting to try her luck a second time.
All of this has left Kim rattled, unable to sleep and paranoid about Lalo’s possible return.
So rather than tossing and turning all night, Kim puts a chair against the front door and ends up smoking in the living room just waiting and watching in case something bad happens. When Jimmy arises, she fakes like she was battling insomnia and decided to do some work on her cases but even he knows she’s still worried about Lalo Salamanca because he has those same feelings.
The only difference is Jimmy is still living in the dark because he ultimately tells Kim that as much as the nuns in his old school would hate to hear him say it, he’s glad to know Lalo is dead.
Now Kim keeping this information from Jimmy goes against their rule of brutal truth but then again he hid his ordeal in the desert from her for quite some time until he was finally forced to come clean. Perhaps Kim is attempting to live up to Mike’s trust in her that she’s better equipped to handle this information than Jimmy.
As Jimmy remains oblivious to the potential threat from his former client, he’s more concerned about getting back to work now that he’s secured new office space. With clientele lined up outside the office like they’re waiting for a buffet to open, Jimmy gets some help when Francesca returns to listen to a job offer from him.
Of course, Francesca is eventually the other main component to Saul Goodman’s legal practice as she runs the office during the “Breaking Bad” years. She previously worked for Jimmy and Kim when they attempted to share office space together but that ended rather quickly.
This time around, Jimmy is ready to hire Francesca as his full time office manager under the agreement that she’ll start right away. Francesca is nothing if not smart enough to realize his desperation so she asks for double the salary she’s currently making along with a cash bonus — all the money currently occupying a slot in Jimmy’s wallet — and they’re off and running for the day.
Following a long day spent dishing out justice for all, Jimmy gets sent on a house call to a potential client that promises a big payday. When Jimmy arrives to meet with a mysterious name named Mr. Ward, he’s surprised to find his former boss and longtime rival Howard Hamlin waiting for him next to a boxing ring.
Earlier that day, Howard was at a meeting with the residents involved in the Sandpiper Crossing class action suit alongside Cliff Main as they attempted to calm down nerves about the time it’s taking to reach a settlement. Cliff can’t help but notice Howard’s nervous energy, which he believes is because his friend and colleague is spending his days tuned up on hookers and cocaine.
After Howard gives an impassioned speech to calm down the fervor in the room while completely bullshitting these poor people that it’s not all about the money — because it’s always about the money — he prepares to leave but not before Cliff pulls him aside for an intervention.
Cliff explains that he knows Howard is bumping rails like Jordan Belfort in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and he wants him to get some help. Of course, Howard denies that he booted a prostitute out of his car while Cliff was in the middle of a business meeting but after learning that the lunch was shared with Kim Wexler, he finally figures out the source of his latest misery.
Howard tells Cliff in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t have a coke problem — he has a Jimmy McGill problem.
So Howard stages an intervention of his own at the boxing gym by confronting Jimmy about his latest schemes including the packet of powder found in his locker at the country club, the clients (The Kettlemans) who were concerned he was hooked on drugs and now the prostitute being kicked out of his car in the middle of a workday. Howard knows Jimmy is behind all of it and he wonders if this isn’t just some cry for help because it’s almost like he was trying to get caught — more on that later.
Rather than allow this to continue, Howard invites Jimmy to set foot in the ring with him and settle through differences with their fists.
At first, Jimmy is ready to walk away but he eventually agrees to the sparring match, which ultimately involves two guys who couldn’t throw a proper punch if their lives depended on it so at least it was a fair fight in that regard. Howard eventually gets the upper hand and floors Jimmy with a punch that leaves him lying on the canvas.
Afterwards, Howard tells Jimmy that he’s mistaken his kindness for weakness and that’s just not the case. As much as Howard hopes this settles whatever tension remains between them, he’s certain it won’t be but at least he was able to act out some of his own aggression.
On the way out of the gym, Howard meets with a private investigator, who he has hired to follow Jimmy at every turn to discover what he’s really up to these days. It feels like that move is going to backfire on Howard quite spectacularly.
Back at home while nursing a black eye, Jimmy laments to Kim about his decision to get into the ring with Howard but she believes it was effectively the only way he let his rival get a few shots in before the real knockout punch comes back at him. Judging by their demeanor, Kim and Jimmy absolutely planned on Howard finding out about the scheme to paint him as a drug and sex addict but the next truly damaging phase is coming soon.
Kim spent her day having lunch with a colleague from her former job that was really a way to probe for information about the Sandpiper Crossing case. She learns the name of the retired judge serving as the mediator to the proceedings and now Kim is targeting him as part of the next move she’s making.
In fact, Kim warns Jimmy by asking him if he’s ready for what’s coming next — because all signs point to that being the end game to bring down Howard Hamlin once and for all.
Through it all, Howard has seen Jimmy as an annoyance he can always handle — but he doesn’t know the real mastermind pulling the strings this entire time is Kim Wexler and she’s the one he really needs to worry about.
Also one side note — Jimmy is now being tracked by Mike’s men as well as Howard’s private investigator and that just seems like a recipe for disaster because the people protecting Gus Fring aren’t playing by anybody’s rules except their own.
Much like Kim’s struggle to sleep results in putting a chair against her front door for extra security, Gus Fring is living with the knowledge that Lalo Salamanca could be hiding around every corner just waiting to get him.
At work, Gus attempts to hide that he’s wearing a bulletproof vest under his signature yellow shirt and the slightest unexpected noise makes him jumpy. Gus is a man of strict habits but his routine has been completely altered by Lalo’s survival because now he can barely get through a workday at Los Pollos Hermanos without wondering if his rival is waiting for him in the parking lot.
When he returns home, Gus isn’t sleeping but rather spending his free time scrubbing the grout in the bathroom of the spare house he purchased as a decoy for surveillance purposes. Mike attempts to calm his nerves as he continues to pore over security footage and keeping a close eye on all of his guys watching Gus, the house and every other place where Lalo might try to strike.
Gus then decides to have Mike take him to the site where the super lab was being constructed. Mike tells him that the tunnel being built has been filled in and there’s no way Lalo will be digging through there to come for him.
Still, Gus can’t help but remember that this was what Lalo was so desperately looking to find when he first arrived in New Mexico and it’s hard to believe he’s forgotten. Gus looks around the lab before placing his spare revolver beneath a construction vehicle, which he sees as just another layer of security for a potential showdown when Lalo resurfaces.
At the time it appeared that Gus’ paranoia was really started to get the better of him but then again he might just have better instincts than even the people he hired to protect him.
Ben From New Mexico
When we finally catch up with Lalo Salamanca, he’s not in Mexico and he’s not hiding under a fryer at Los Pollos Hermanos just waiting to pop a cap in Gus Fring.
Instead, he’s hanging out in a German bar where a woman is sitting alone and attempting to educate a young couple on trivia knowledge. After ordering a drink with the bartender recognizing an American accent, Lalo strikes up a conversation with the German woman after he mentions the town in New Mexico where he’s from.
She’s interested because it’s the same town where her husband worked and sadly died under mysterious circumstances.
The woman is none other than Margarethe Ziegler — the widow to Werner Ziegler, who was the architect and chief engineer helping Gus build his super lab until he made the fatal mistake of escaping the compound to try and set up a rendezvous with his wife. Werner’s attempted escape was being tracked by Lalo but Mike got to the German first and begrudgingly ended his life on Gus’ orders.
Now it seems Lalo is picking up the trail again by visiting Werner’s wife to see what she might know about what he was doing in New Mexico or at least where he was doing it.
While Margarethe was largely in the dark about Werner’s work — she explains that he died during a cave in but managed to save the lives of all his workers during the tragic accident. She says that his team sent her condolences and keepsakes after Werner’s death but not a single one showed up for his funeral.
To make matters worse, a group of men from Werner’s employers showed up to take back any “proprietary paperwork” from his office. In other words, Gus and his German business partners from Madrigal Electromotive were doing everything possible to cover up any potential inks back to them from the engineer helping to build the super lab.
After a night spent charming Margarethe at the bar, Lalo walks her home but she can’t quite go through with inviting him inside. He bids her farewell but then waits nearby until she leaves for work the next morning.
That’s when Lalo sneaks inside to see if he can find any information about Werner’s whereabouts when he was killed. Lalo’s search comes up empty until he notices a keepsake on the shelf above what would have been Werner’s drafting table.
It’s a slide rule encased in Lucite with an inscription paying tribute to Werner — the creation of this keepsake was how the episode opened — and that’s when Lalo finds the clue he needed. Underneath the keepsake, Lalo sees a sticker marking the company that made it for whoever sent it to Werner’s widow.
Chances are that’s going to be Lalo’s next stop as he continues to search for whatever Gus Fring is hiding back in New Mexico. As for Margarethe, she returns home after forgetting her phone and it appears for a moment that she’s about to meet a tragic death much like her husband after Lalo puts a silencer on his gun while waiting upstairs.
Instead when she looks through the house, Lalo has slipped out a window in the office as he prepares to move onto his next destination in his planned revenge against Gus Fring.
“Better Call Saul” returns next Monday night at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.