Better Call Saul recap: Broken hearts and broken gnomes
Two enterprising young men take full advantage of Saul Goodman's promotional rate for non-violent felonies.
Remember that time, not so long ago, when Jimmy McGill assured a worried Kim that his “50 percent off for non-violent felonies” promotion on legal services would not, nay, could not, create an incentive for his clients to commit the crimes they would have always gone ahead and committed anyway? It seems like it was only yesterday! (In this case, probably because it was, in fact, yesterday — with a big thank-you to Better Call Saul for rewarding our patience during the long between-seasons hiatus with two episodes in a single week.)
We’ll give this much to Jimmy: when he said that, he probably believed it. It’s still early days in the legal career of Saul Goodman, and it’s possible that he has yet to grasp how truly, spectacularly stupid his client base actually is. But for two youngish goobers who were present at Saul’s debut pop-up event, that 50 percent off promotion was too good not to take advantage of, and hoo boy, do they ever. These guys aren’t familiar faces from Breaking Bad (or at least, they weren’t to me), but we’ve seen their type before: they’re Albuquerque’s unemployed, underachieving, meth-addicted underclass, and they’re here to have a good time. “50 percent off!” they shriek, zooming away into the night (and a solid part of the next day), leaving a trail of vandalism, theft, and busted garden gnomes in their wake. 50 PERCENT OFF is the new YOLO. 50 PERCENT OFF is your new god.
This criminal spree will eventually tie the whole episode together, but in the meantime, we check in with Kim and Jimmy. Their relationship is once again in rocky territory, hardly a surprise when (as the famous quote goes) there are three people in it. Kim can’t even find her clothes in their shared closet anymore, it’s so overstuffed with Saul’s cacophony of ghastly suits (sidenote: does any show on television do visual metaphors better? Discuss.) Their interactions are strained; she’s uncomfortable and impatient, which Jimmy makes up for by being desperately earnest, and you can practically hear the death rattle as Kim’s last shred of respect for her boyfriend goes into its final throes. But then again, he manages to reel them back from the ledge: he brings her to a house for sale, and while she’s skeptical at first, the hugeness of the home (and its closet) gives them both the room they needed to breathe. The house is empty, its walls painted white. It’s a blank canvas where Kim and Jimmy could recreate themselves. Kim finally acquiesces.
“Maybe someday,” she says, which seems to be all that Jimmy wants: the reassurance that “someday” still exists, for her, with him.
As if all the baggage of their present predicament wouldn’t travel with them; as if that beautiful white closet wouldn’t just get filled with Saul Goodman’s suits.
But nevermind: we’re back to the saga of Mister and Mister 50 Percent Off, who pause their endless crime spree to relax, recharge, and replenish their supply of meth. But the baggies-down-a-drainpipe drug shop (which we saw in the season premiere) hits a snag when the gutter clogs. Cue the call to Salamanca headquarters, and Krazy 8’s first brush with the law: he’s the unlucky repairman who ends up stuck on a ladder as the police roll-up. This is bad news for the operation; the upstairs apartment contains thousands of dollars of product, which will now be seized by the cops… that is unless someone in the gang has a powerful incentive to impress Lalo by retrieving it. Enter Nacho, who has recently been instructed by Gus Fring to earn Lalo’s trust and find out what he’s doing (with the not-so-veiled threat that if he doesn’t, his father will be murdered.) Seeing an opportunity, Nacho performs an act of impromptu parkour, leaping onto the building’s roof, entering the apartment, grabbing the drugs, and escaping out a window with seconds to spare. Lalo is clearly impressed; the next time we see the two, they’re sharing a table at Salamanca HQ and discussing Krazy 8’s legal predicament over a couple beers.
Finally, the rest of this episode belongs to Saul Goodman — in contrast with the first bit, which belonged to Jimmy McGill. This is one of few episodes to really lean into the Jekyll-and-Hyde motif: the man we saw at the start of “50% Off” seems like an entirely different person. Saul Goodman is in the courthouse, and treating it like his personal candy store: he’s wheeling, he’s dealing, he’s doing a booming business for his growing list of clients. When he’s not making deals, he’s practicing his lines: “Suzanne, I think we have something in common.” “Suzanne! I think we have something in common.”
Suzanne, of course, is the DA from last season who tried and failed to take Huell to trial, and she’s not interested in doing Saul any favors. Instead, she stops him in his well-greased tracks, telling him she knows what’s what: he’s just trying to bang out plea bargains as fast as possible, to make more money. Which, fair enough! He is! And if you’re not suspicious from the beginning about what happens next, well, bless you, you innocent soul. Saul and Suzanne get into the same elevator, and seconds later, the elevator shudders to a stop. Suzanne calls the building’s maintenance team, who tells her it’ll be awhile. Gee, however, will the two of them pass the time? The ensuing scene contains some of the show’s best dialogue as Saul and Suzanne try to come to an agreement:
Suzanne: That was negligent arson.
Jimmy: A prank gone wrong.
Suzanne: The knife was real.
Jimmy: The blood was fake!
A cool 20 minutes later, they’ve tackled 13 of the 16 cases that they had in common — and once Suzanne has clicked off down the hall, Saul thanks the elevator repairman who helped him orchestrate the whole thing (who happens to be the uncle of one of the clients in question.) For a moment, the line between Saul and Jimmy blurs. He looks so happy, even innocent, as he strolls down the sidewalk in the next scene with his Bluetooth in his ear, enjoying the Albuquerque sunshine and a nice mint-chip ice cream cone. But in Saul Goodman’s world, there’s always something sinister lurking in the background, and here it comes: a slow-rolling car with Nacho in the passenger seat. The client he can’t say no to. The client who ruins everything. With a grimace, Saul lets the ice cream slip from his fingers to splat on the sidewalk. It’s already melting as they drive away.