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Better Call Saul recap: How to get cornered

A look back at this week Better call Saul“Black and Blue” coming as soon as you canceled my whole week…

“You’re right: I have a problem. Just not the problem you think. I have a problem with Jimmy McGill.” – Howard

After last week’s historic meeting between Kim and Mike, it would be easy to assume that the legal and antitrust halves would coincide Better call Saul would merge more and more in these final episodes. But it’s hard to see this happening on any significant scale since Saul is unaware of Gus when he is introduced breaking Bad. The stories may intersect periodically, but I expect they will largely continue in parallel. And this week they are as parallel in theme as they are in plot progression. In particular, we have Gus Fring and Howard Hamlin, two men who have probably never crossed paths before Saul closes, but the “Black and Blue” spend face similar problems: their existence is both threatened by well-known opponents against whom they can do precious little at the moment.

Gus has known for some time that Lalo is a threat, but these recent episodes have nagged him with their lack of new information. He was already getting sloppy — remember the broken glass in his office that Nacho ended up using — and here we see him paranoid and distracted even as he goes about the routine business of running flagship restaurant Los Pollos Hermanos. Gus Fring is never distracted, especially when he’s doing his cover job, and it’s a sign of how shattered he is by the continued absence of the smartest Salamanca

.

Tony Dalton as Lalo Salamanca – Better Call Saul_Season 6 Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Tony Dalton as Lalo Salamanca

Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Tel

Talk about restraint: If you were the creative team on a television show, you’d have a villain as charismatic and instantly loved as Lalo, and you’d only have a limited number of hours to use Tony Dalton, would you take him off camera for a while keep away? the better part of four episodes? But the tension in the cartel scenes only works when we, like Gus, wonder where the hell this guy is and when he’s going to make his move. Where Mike assumed Lalo would be stalking someone in Albuquerque, Lalo is instead making his presence felt in Germany of all places. More than four years have passed since the end

Saul Season four, so be forgiven if you don’t remember Lalo’s role in the death of Werner, the engineer in charge of excavating the super lab. Lalo obviously hasn’t forgotten and is going through Werner – or rather his widow Margarethe – to find the proof he needs that Gus acted against the interests of the cartel. The episode begins with a short film about the making of a glass trophy with a slide rule in it – something the meticulous but old-fashioned Werner would no doubt have liked – and ends with a tense scene in which Lalo flees the said trophy just before Margarethe finds him . (This is better news for Margarethe than for Lalo, as he would have simply killed her if he hadn’t climbed out of the second floor window, once again displaying near-superhuman agility.) How will this trophy prove Gus’ intentions? We’ll have to wait and see, but we’re well past the point where we should question any plan this guy sets in motion.As with many cartel stories on Saul, there is the prequel problem. For example, a few episodes back, Nacho was literally the only character in the desert scene who wasn’t definitely alive during that time

breaking Bad

, and unsurprisingly, he was the one who ended up dying. Here we now know that Lalo is doomed as Juan Bolsa and Don Eladio remain completely oblivious to Gus' true intentions until he has them all killed during the Heisenberg era. Hopefully the fun will lie in just how Gus triumphs, and here we see he's picked up the same itch that Lalo is trying to scratch. The Super Lab was a key part in his plan to overthrow the cartel, and Lalo ruined that part of the plan for the moment. So Gus lets Mike take him to the dig site less to look for clues than to plant a gun for what he thinks will be an eventual showdown with Lalo under the old laundromat.

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler – Better Call Saul_ Season 6 Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler – Better Call Saul_ Season 6 Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler

Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Tel

Regardless of her motives, Kim’s plan seems to hit a snag—or does it? – as Cliff Main confronts Howard about all the shady things he’s seen in these last few episodes. Howard Hamlin is many things, but stupid is not one of them, and he realizes almost immediately that Jimmy is behind this plan to discredit him. Like Lalo-versus-Gus, it’s more fun when both sides of the duel are smart and know what’s happening. But in this case, one may wonder what advantage Howard just gained. For example, he still doesn’t see that Kim, not Jimmy, is the true architect of his misfortune. But more importantly, neither Kim nor Jimmy seem too bothered by the news that he’s on to them — as if it’s either an expected part of the plan, or even a necessary one. As Howard points out, they didn’t really bother to cover their tracks: Jimmy has already used prostitutes against him, and Kim was Cliff’s coffee date for the Wendy incident. They had to know that it was possible, maybe even likely, although they couldn’t exactly guarantee when Cliff would confront Howard

. Interestingly, Cliff decides to do so after watching Howard, in a moment of professional triumph, fend off a potential uprising from all Sandpiper clients who are desperate to settle the case while they’re still alive to enjoy the money. Cliff notes that Howard is full of nervous energy as he watches Erin try to calm the customers, and it’s possible he’s interpreting Howard’s performance as something fueled by both cocaine and his innate charm.

Howard hires a private investigator to track Jimmy (from the same agency Chuck used against Jimmy in season three), but first he chooses to turn off his aggression in a more direct way: by luring Jimmy to his boxing studio for a few rounds . It’s, on one level, another example of Howard naively trying to appeal to Jimmy’s better nature in hopes that the man he once dubbed “Charlie Hustle” will someday confront whatever nonsense he’s attempting . Mostly, however, he wants to beat up his enemy, and he does just that, in a fight that impresses just how clumsy and unglamorous he is. This isn’t Rocky vs. Apollo, it’s two middle-aged men who specialize in brains rather than brawn. But Howard has more training than Jimmy, and he also has more will to win, while Jimmy steps into the ring primarily out of guilt – because, as Kim will later remind him, “You know what’s coming next.” Obviously there is yet another level of the plan that goes beyond what we know, and it must be far worse than what we have seen so far.

Gus knows Lalo is coming for him, and maybe even how. And he’s carried the weight of franchise history, even if Lalo seems to be in control for the moment. Howard Hamlin, on the other hand, is one of the few remaining characters that never appears in breaking Bad. Almost anything could happen to him by the series finale, and it doesn’t look like anything good is in store for him despite knowing that Jimmy is plotting against him. Knowledge is power in the Heisenberg verse, but even knowledge can only get you so far if you’re not the title character and your opponent is. Some other thoughts: * Another piece of Saul Goodman’s professional puzzle comes into place with the return of Tina Parker as Francesca, Jimmy’s former and future receptionist. Francesca has not watched the last two seasons of

Better call Saul

, and is therefore surprised by all the changes: a new office, no Kim, Jimmy practicing under a new name, and his lovable elderly legal clients replaced by a bunch of shady criminal suspects. But she’s able to use this uncertain new situation to her advantage, coaxing Jimmy into getting the maximum possible salary (plus a “signing bonus” from whatever cash he has in his wallet) and making sure she gets a job at the Decoration of this room can have a say the toilet is gone. We know frombreaking Bad that beneath that cute demeanor lurks an absolute hustler, and she and her boss stay good together. (Bonus points for her if she wheels to the mall and listens to Wilson Phillips’ “Release Me.”)

* Longtime Heisenberg-Verse producer Melissa Bernstein is behind the camera for the second time (after last season’s “JMM”) and makes her presence felt with a long breath through Pollos Hermanos’ kitchen while Gus struggles to keep his head shut properly get by focusing on the finer points of running the restaurant.* Finally, for the most part, the last two seasons didn’t have to strain to make Bob Odenkirk’s altered, post-Nobody physique. But it was hard not to notice what a baggy t-shirt he wore for the boxing scene. In the film, Odenkirk is said to be a guy who understandably can win any fight. Jimmy McGill, on the other hand, is a talker and not an action hero, so care must be taken to maintain the illusion.

https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/tv-recaps/better-call-saul-recap-season-6-episode-5-black-blue-1346074/ Better Call Saul recap: How to get cornered

Brian Lowry

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