TV Recap: Better Call Saul – Shitting Gold …

Better Call Saul
“Something Beautiful” (Episode 403)
August 20, 2018

Another stellar episode tonight from the Better Call Saul crew. Make sure you catch up on my recap and review from last week’s episode here. And after the recap, stick around for my review of tonight’s episode at the end of the article.

Let me know what you’re feeling about Season 4 so far.  After the jump … my recap review of Better Call Saul‘s “Something Beautiful.”

In the endless deserts of Albuquerque, we get to bare witness to the staged death of Arturo.  After causing the tires to blow out on Arturo’s sweet Oldsmobile 442 muscle car, Tyrus and Victor proceed to fill the ride (and Arturo) with enough bullet holes to make Swiss cheese jealous. Nacho has to watch this entire performance and then has to pay his price; he takes a bullet in the shoulder and then in the gut. As he lies helpless among the cacti, Victor advises him to make “the call” before he passes out.  Like Tyrus tells Nacho …

“Gotta make it look real.”

Title Sequence.

Before we move on from that cold opener – what a nice touch to keep Arturo on ice packs so his blood would splatter realistically … these guys may be thugs and cretins, but they’re no dummies.

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill – Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Picking up on the voicemail he left in last week’s episode, Jimmy is pitching Mike on a new scam – Hummels!! Having done his research on several valuable Hummels and having also noticed that Neff Copiers had a rather valuable Hummel, Bavarian Boy, collecting dust in their conference room, Jimmy proposes Mike steal it, fence it and they split the cash. $4 grand each, minimum.

“Those people are hungry for Hummels!”

Mike passes, saying it’s not for him. He suggests that Jimmy pass too — he doesn’t think it’s for him, either.  He gives his condolences on Chuck’s passing.  Jimmy … is dumbfounded.  Outside, Jimmy makes an appointment with his vet … he’s got a very sick fish, apparently. Ooooookay.

Luis Moncada as Marco Salamanca, Daniel Moncada as Leonel Salamanca – Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Out in the desert, the Salamanca Twins have arrived to check out the grisly murder scene.  They take their time getting to Nacho who … doesn’t look great.  One Salamanca Twin does a basic triage on Nacho’s bullet wounds while asking him who did the hit.  Nacho claims to not know, he says it was maybe a silver Firebird?!?  The Other Salamanca Twin sets the 442 on fire and off we go.

In town, Kim is back at work. She arrives at Mesa Verde’s offices with her new paralegal Viola ( Keiko Agena), in tow.  Upstairs in a conference room, Kevin Wachtell interrupts her meeting with Paige and expresses his condolences for Chuck and asks after Jimmy. Also, he wants to show her the future of Mesa Verde empire.  There is a dedicated room which has model homes for all of their planned expansions. Mesa Verde is about to blow up.  Kevin notices the unease on Kim’s face (it’s true, she has been wandering from model to model looking more and more bewildered) and she confesses, she’s surprised at the aggressive expansion they have planned — it’s a lot.

“We’re really building something here. All your hard work is making a difference.”

Kevin is putting his and Mesa Verde’s eggs in the Kim Wexler basket.  Down in the lobby, Kim asks Viola to take her to the courthouse. Something is bugging her about Mesa Verde and presumably, HHM.

Vet’s Office.  Jimmy is trying to use his crooked vet, Caldera (Joe DeRosa returning), to get a replacement burglar since Mike backed out of the Hummels scheme.  After some Jimmy-style persuasion, he’s got his man hook, line and sinker. But, we’re not done with the Vet just yet.  As Jimmy leaves, one of the Salamanca Twins enters … seems like Caldera is going to have more work than he planned today.  Commercials.

When we return, Caldera is checking out a battered and bleeding Nacho. “Jesus,” sums up his feelings succinctly.  He’s got some work to do. Beginning in the moving SUV and continuing in some make shift operating room (at the back of a Jiffy Lube), Caldera and the Salamanca Twins begin working on fixing Nacho.  The whole scene is done with distorted sound and voices as it’s from Nacho’s point of view and it’s really disorienting.

Michael Mando as Nacho Varga, Daniel Moncada as Leonel Salamanca, Joe DeRosa as Caldera – Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Nacho comes to sometime later with one of the Salamanca Twins donating some blood in a make shift transfusion.  Caldera catches Nacho up: he had to leave the bullet in Nacho’s shoulder(may set off metal detectors now) and he gave him broad spectrum antibiotics … I imagine this was not the most sanitary shooting and clean up job.  Caldera advises Nacho that he needs a doctor with imaging tech to see if his bowels were nicked — if he gets an infection he’ll, you know … die.  Keep the wound clean and change your bandages daily and (bending down to whisper in Nacho’s ear), “after I walk out of here, I never want to see you again.” Sure Caldera. Sure, that’s how this works.

Neff Copiers.  The Heist! Jimmy’s Beareded Burglar is going along swimmingly with his cat burgle of the Bavarian Boy.  That is, until Mr. Neff comes wandering out of his office bathroom … seems Boss Neff is sleeping on the couch at work.  Bearded Burglar is hiding under the desk while Mr. Neff struggles with sleep.  He continues to hide while Mr. Neff tries  to get his wife, Lynette, to let him come home (the vacuum was a thoughtful gift, he maintains). And, he continues to hide while Mr. Neff orders a later night pizza with dipping sticks and dipping sauce (1 ranch, 1 marinara).  Oh, poor Bearded Burglar – Mr. Neff probably won’t even let you share the pizza …

The Bearded Burglar manages a quick and anxious call to Jimmy while Mr. Neff is distracted with his pizza – “come get me!!!”  Later on, while playing some cards and listening to managerial self-help tapes, a car alarm goes off in the parking lot.  Mr. Neff isn’t terribly worked up though, simply clicking his alarm from the front door.  Not the result Jimmy, who we see in the parking lot, was hoping for. Plan B – he breaks into the car, setting off the alarm again, and actually puts the car into neutral sending it through the parking lot. THIS gets Mr. Neff to come outside and Bearded Burglar makes his get way, Bavarian Boy in tow! “Shitting Gold,” the Bearded Burglar rejoices to Jimmy as they catch up afterwards.

– Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

From his ranch, presumably in Mexico, Don Bolsa calls Gustavo with the urgent news of the Salamancas being hit.  Shocked! Outraged!  Fring suggests the obvious to the Don that someone knows their business.  What shell we do, Don Bolsa, Fring frets? Bolsa tells him to run dummy loads to see what they see (no product crosses until they get this worked out). In the meantime, the Don tells Gus to make a deal with a local supplier so their inventory doesn’t run out.  “Don Eladio forbids buying from outsiders,” Gustavo protests. “Let me worry about Eladio,” the Don replies.  Gustavo Fring is a fucking genius.

Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo “Gus” Fring – Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

University of New Mexico Chemistry Department. Gus goes to visit his favorite chemist, Gale Boetticher (David Costabile, reprising the role he originated in Breaking Bad). After some small talk, Gus seems to genuinely like Gale, Gale gives Fring the results of the samples he had tested.  Samples of what? Well, they don’t say but we have to imagine it’s crystal meth since that’s what he is doing for Fring when we eventually meet him in Breaking Bad.  The best of this sample class came in at 67% purity (Walter White’s infamous “blue meth” would be 99% pure).  Gus thanks him for his analysis and goes to leave.

Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo “Gus” Fring, David Costabile as Gale Boetticher – Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Gathering his courage, Gale stops him and tells Fring that these samples are “dreck” and that he could synthesize a much better product – even right there in the lab.  Gus tells Gale that he can’t allow that, not yet anyway.  He tells Gale that he was “meant for better things.”  Gale happily goes back to singing his Periodic Table of Elements ditty, as you do.  Oh Gale, it was nice to see you again!!

Kim’s Apartment.  Jimmy comes through the “office” as Kim and Viola are wrapping up Kim’s review of Viola’s draft for Mesa Verde. She tells Viola to start looking into the federal regs (that Mesa Verde expansion is on her mind) as Jimmy begins his day.

After Viola leaves, Kim sits Jimmy down to go through Chuck-related affairs (you’ll recall her meeting with Howard in last week’s episode). Jimmy bemusedly signs the release, he’ll take the $5,000 to pay off his MasterCard and then Kim gives over the Letter from Chuck.  Jimmy tells Kim to stay as he rips open the Letter, she admits she wants to hear what it has to say.

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler, Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill – Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

In short, Chuck tells Jimmy that, despite their differences in life, he is proud of Jimmy for taking life’s opportunities and turning himself into something.

“I’m proud we share the name McGill.”

While Jimmy reads the letter aloud in a monotone voice, Rhea Seehorn kills it with Kim’s emotional facial reactions, alternately looking annoyed and tearing up. Just phenomenal acting here. Jimmy concludes the missive, complimenting his brother that, no matter what else Chuck was, he could really write a letter.  As he turns to Kim and sees her crying, she gets embarrassed and apologizes. She excuses herself. He starts to follow her but stops as the slightly ajar door.  And there, the episode ends.

Thoughts.

I feel like I have said this every week but the acting on this show is so fucking good. Better Call Saul is a fairly quiet show, filled with lots of dialogue and wordless scenes. There are not a lot of explosions or a cacophony of noise to distract so the acting, vocal and body language wise, does the heavy lifting and every one on this show, EVERY ONE, carries their weight.  Take any of Nacho’s scenes this season or Kim in this final scene tonight. Why is she crying? Why is she freaking out? And Jimmy? Why doesn’t he continue to go after her? What stops him?  I want to know more because their acting MAKES me want to know more. I crave every next episode of this series because the actors do their jobs so goddamn well.

Side Note on this final scene, it’s interesting to me that the Chuck Letter was not dated – me thinks Chuck wrote that sometime well before the events of the last season took place and I think this will eventually come out and send Jimmy into some kind of spiral.  Maybe. Maybe not. Just a thought.

Gale! With every passing episode and season of Better Call Saul, we inch closer to the world and time of Breaking Bad and what better reminder of that then the cameo appearance tonight of Gale Boetticher. I liked how Gus puts him off on making meth for him — not yet, he says.  Gus has a plan and Gale will be a part of it (you’ll recall it’s Gale who builds the Super Lab that Walter eventually calls his office) … but not yet.

Let’s speak on Fring.  Any fan of Breaking Bad knows and understands what a master mind Gustavo Fring is, always multiple steps ahead of everyone (well, almost everyone) but it’s so exciting to see him here in Better Call Saul, in his early days. This is the “Rise of Gustavo Fring” we are seeing and it’s such a wonderful and engrossing chapter to witness.

And last, Jimmy. What is this Hummels scam really about? Is this Jimmy just trying to get by or is this the early warning indicators of him abandoning his morality for good. That final submission into the devil on his shoulder. He could have taken the job at Neff Copiers and cleared more than $4,000 in short order but he went for passing on the job and ripping them off instead?

Is this the beginning of the final nail in the Jimmy McGill coffin? Will we see the emergence of Saul Goodman before season’s end?  With this scam happening in only Episode 3, I think we don’t have much time left with good-hearted Jimmy.  I’ll be sad to see him go but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I am excited to see the “Rise of Saul Goodman.”

Until next week party people, stay loose and enjoy your Hummel Figurines!!

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