TV Recap: Better Call Saul – Those Days Are Over …

Better Call Saul
“Quite A Ride” (Episode 405)
September 3, 2018

Last week’s Better Call Saul ended with Jimmy hatching a new scheme to pass his boring days at CC Mobile while Kim tried to find the love of the law again and Mike came face to face with Fring.  Catch up on all the action of last week’s episode here! Go, I’ll wait.

All caught up? Great! Now, on to tonight’s new episode, What A Ride .. after the jump (SPOILERS BEWARE)!

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut – Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

We open tonight in the esteemed offices of Saul Goodman, last seen on Breaking Bad. The office isn’t so esteemed right now; this is clearly the final moments before Saul goes on the run to become Gene, the Cinnabon king of Omaha.  Francesca (Tina Parker returning to the role; we haven’t seen her since she was fresh faced Francesca in Better Call Saul, Season 3) is there, shredding files, while Saul is frantically ransacking his We The People-styled office for secret stashes of cash and a mysterious box.

As he finishes packing up his loot, he pays Francesca one final lump sum and hands her a lawyer’s business card (the cops are definitely going to want to chat, Francesca). A referral to HHM, perhaps?

“Tell them Jimmy sent you.”

Photo: AMC

He also gives her some final instructions, she’s to be by a certain phone at 3pm on November 12.  She says she will but she’s not hanging around past 3:01pm.

“Well, I guess, uh, that’s it. Quite a ride, huh?”

Saul opens wide for a hug but … yeah, Francesca isn’t feeling that. She grabs the garbage bags of shredded files and heads out.  Alone, Saul pulls out another burner and a phone number on a card.  He requests help obtaining a “dust filter” for his “Hoover Max Extract  Pressure Pro Model 60.” [NOTE: you can get this model Hoover on Amazon right now for the sale price of $159.99, a savings of $70].  He says it’s a “pick up” and it’s “red hot.” He confirms he knows the location and then removes the SIM card.  Pretty sure this is the final moments of Saul Goodman, right here.

Photo: AMC

Title Sequence.

We come back from the credits to CC Mobile. Jimmy’s provocative “The Man Is Listening” campaign hasn’t launched a bustling business yet but when an unsuspecting rube comes in, Jimmy hooks him, line and sinker. Convincing this contractor that not only is the government (i.e., the IRS) listening to every call (which is not an ideal situation in a cash based business where you’re making those cash based deals on said monitored phone), a single burner isn’t enough – you need to be using a NEW burner frequently. Every Week? Day? Hour? Call? In the end, the man walks out with a stack of new phones and Jimmy is finally getting some much needed action.

Denver International Airport. A Mysterious Man looks for a particular car in a parking lot at Denver International Airport. Finding the key, he pulls a burner phone out of the glove box which begins to ring immediately. It’s Mike! He tells this man to get on I-70 headed West and Mike will call back with more instructions soon.  The mysterious man takes this all very much in stride. [NOTE: Interesting, a quick Google Maps search tells me that Denver to Albuquerque is a quick jaunt down I-25 … not sure why he’s going on 70 West?]

At Mile Marker 238, the man gets out of the car and Mike warns the man to go to the bathroom now because he won’t have a chance later. Then he tells the Mysterious Man to pull a hood over his face (the hood is conveniently in the trunk) and place his luggage next to him.  If you were wondering, Mile Marker 238 on I-70 West in Colorado is between the Oro Gulch and Georgia Gulch and the highway is running alongside Clear Creek at this point. There is nothing else of obvious note around the place. You’re also just outside of Idaho Springs, Colorado if that matters to you.

“You want me to stand here, with a hood on my head?”
“Those are the rules.”

Photo: AMC

The Mysterious Man does as he’s told (I like that he takes the time to lock the rental, Europeans are so polite) and a van picks him up soon thereafter.  Inside, Mike sits next to the Mysterious Man (someone else is driving). We get a quick driving montage, never leaving Mike and the Mysterious Man’s faces but we can tell we have come through a lot of different places (there are city sounds and a rail road crossing) and based on the way the daylight coming inside changes, its takes quite a while.

They arrive … wherever they are going, and Mike negotiates the still hooded Mysterious Man into an industrial space. It looks like an abandoned computer server room or maybe, an industrial laundy. I can’t tell what the big blue thing in the background though, the more i stare at it, the more I think it’s a giant washing machine. The man asks, “where exactly?” and Mike tells him where the entrance will be and that he has to “stay within the footprint of the building.” Again, Mysterious Man takes this all in stride. He grabs his laptop and walks off to do … something.

Well, something is more specifically takes measurements of some sort with a laser beam, he looks to be mapping the size of the space. Mike looks bored. Once finished, the Mysterious Man happily tells Mike that he can do … whatever he is being asked to do (though I think I know what he’s being asked to do). It should takes 7 months though the Mysterious Man thinks he can be done in 6.  Even with blasting, Mike asks? The Mysterious Man says that with modern methods, assuming Mike’s employer is willing to pay the Mysterious Man’s price, blasting will be unnecessary.

“Price isn’t an issue.”

Mike is dubious on the timing and so he confirms it all again, so there is no mistake.  “56 feet down, with no blasting, working only at nights, you’re saying 7 months max.”  The Mysterious Man says that him and his crew built a tunnel into El Paso (presumably from Mexico) undetected in 17 weeks so this is a piece of cake. The Mysterious Man is the Army Corps of Engineers for Criminals.  Mike gets a call and is very agreeable with whomever is on the other end. After hanging up, he thanks the Mysterious Man for his time and returns him, hooded, to his rental car at Mile Marker 238. The Mysterious Man realizes he has a boarding pass in his pocket – guess he didn’t get the job.   Commercials.

Bernalillo County Courthouse. Kim is prepping a young client (we’ll learn in a few minutes his name is David Estrada) for a court room appearance. Ties are the worst, little dude, I feel you.  She sits him down so she can talk to DDA Bill Oakley (Peter Diseth), or Bill the Prosecutor, as I’ll be calling him. He’s incredulous that she’d take this rock throwing case into court and even more so that she’s asking for 6 month’s probation, time served , no jail; but Kim isn’t to be bullied.

Peter Diseth as DDA Bill Oakley, Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler – Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

She sets him straight that the damning evidence came from a tainted statement gathered by the police, WHICH, Bill the Prosecutor knew about. He stutters and stammers in response, the wind has left his sails but quick. He falls back on the fact that the kid actually did the thing (threw a cinder block through a jewelry store window) but Kim isn’t moved. She says that she’ll blow up Bill the Prosecutor’s spot in court and the Judge will dismiss the case AND rip Bill the Prosecutor a new asshole.  Bill the Prosecutor tries to horse trade but she’s not budging, she says David needs a chance to turn his life around.

In the courtroom, Bill  the Prosecutor lowers his offer to 8 months in jail and now Kim is moving to only 4 months probation – Bill the Prosecutor is annoying her. Bill the Prosecutor, exasperated, says she can’t do this and anyway, she doesn’t have time to be getting in the weeds like this for this one case.

“Bill, I only have one other client and it’s a bank. I have all the time in the world.”

In the end, Kim gets Bill the Prosecutor to agree to the 4 moths probation. Out in the hallway, Viola reminds Kim she has another meeting cross town in 15 and David is being a little bitch, complaining about having a probation officer for 4 months.  She gives him some hard truth that if he doesn’t get his shit together, he’ll be going to jail. Real jail. “Grown-up Jail with grown-up bad guys. Picture that David, really picture it.” And she won’t do a thing to help him.  This gets him to lose his attitude and she leaves him there.

Later that night, Jimmy tries to get Kim to watch a movie with him but she’s got too much Mesa Verde to catch up on. The movie begins but Jimmy is miserable. He doesn’t like this imbalance of Kim having something important to do and him … not. He concocts a need to head to CC Mobile (at 9pm at night) for something important he has to take care of. Kim is annoyed that he’s acting like a child but he heads out anyway.  Oh, Jimmy, be secure in your manhood, brother. He leaves with an, “It’s All Good.” The famous, “It’s All Good Man” = Saul Goodman thing sprang to mine).

CC Mobile. In the cover of darkness, Jimmy rings up a box full of burners (paying for them and everything) and heads out. He hits up some hoodie kids hanging out in front of an all night laundry but they are pretty sure he’s a cop and chase him away with calls of “Narc.” Realizing his supreme Whiteness, Jimmy gets dressed in his best Track Suit, Pimp look. Cue up the ’70s soundtrack, “Street Life” (1979) by Veronica “Randy” Crawford and the Crusaders, we’ve got a montage to get to …

Once he’s in the new threads, his night time hustle goes much better and he starts moving phones all over town to all types of night dwellers. Forget P.T. Barnum, Jimmy McGill is the Greatest Showman. Coming to the end of the night, he makes nice with a biker gang and unloads the remaining stock of phones.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill – Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

The fun comes to a crashing end when the Boy Band Rejects from the beginning of the night jump Jimmy for the cash they now know he has on them.  He’s left lying on the ground, next to his car.  Dude, y’all need to get a gun or a bodyguard already.

Back at the apartment, Kim finds Jimmy cleaning himself up in the bathroom. “I got mugged,” when she sees his wounds.  She wants him to go get checked out but he begs off, promising he’s fine. He admits he was at the Doghouse when it happened (true) but doesn’t say what he was doing.  Then he has a pity party about allowing those kinds of punks to jump him.  Back in the day, he was one of those punks and he would’ve been able to take care of himself.

“Those days are over.”

Jimmy gives a half-hearted agreement to this statement. Changing subjects, he tells Kim he’s finally going to call that shrink she suggested.

The next day, Jimmy is back at CC Mobile, erasing all signs of his “Privacy Sold Here” campaign.  Sad face.

Photo: AMC

We cut over to Kim trying to coax a client, Denise, to court, a client who is already late for her court hearing.  Sitting down with Denise, it’s clearly a drug charge and Kim tells it to her straight, she can’t guarantee no jail time at the hearing but if Denise doesn’t appear, she’ll definitely do time. Kim tells her it’s a first offense and a small amount (under 2 ounces), it should be okay.

“Trust me, I’m good at this.”

While waiting for Denise to change into something “nice,” Kim gets a call from an agitated Paige (Mesa Verde). Apparently there was a major mistake in application papers they filed in Denver and Flagstaff. Kim tells her she can be there at 4 but that’s not really good enough for Paige. Kim isn’t really appreciating the urgency and tone of Paige’s call.  Kim tells Paige she can’t now and hangs up on her. Um, that’s not going to be great for Kim’s career. Especially when you recall how Mesa Verde reacted when Chuck “made” a mistake in his filed paperwork.

Mesa Verde HQ. Kim eventually makes her way over to Mesa Verde to fix her mistake but Paige (justifiably curt) tells her it’s already fixed. Oh, and they had to work extra hard to do it since no one, including Viola, knew where their files were. Kim knows she’s in deep and asks to apologize to Kevin in person – he’s not available. Paige is actually very reasonable and tactful and lays it out for Kim. The mistake isn’t the issue, people make mistakes. Paige’s concern is whether Kim’s head is in the game. Also, Mesa Verde isn’t a client you fucking hang up on (the “fucking” was unstated but implied).

Photo: AMC

Kim apologizes and says it’ll never happen again. “I hope not,” is Paige’s only response as she walks away, leaving Kim in the lobby. Cold. Commercials.

We come back to Mike in a van with another hooded mystery man. This one isn’t handling the ride as well as the Mysterious Man from earlier. Unhooded … wherever they are (it’s the same unidentified place as earlier), the sickly man (Rainer Bock) takes several swigs of a water and has a seat.  That Dramamine … it does nothing for this German.

Rainer Bock as Werner Ziegler, Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut – Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

This German is decidedly “old school,” as compared to the earlier Mysterious Man.  This German is counting off paces with his feet, and taking measurements with a measuring tape and a notebook. At the same time, he’s much more thorough than the Mysterious Man from earlier; he’s inside the machines, looking at wiring, taking samples, drawing designs in his notebook.  He seems much more detailed in his work.  He seems to be particularly interested in some coils inside the machine.  Mike looks much less bored this time and much more intrigued.  “So,” he finally asks.

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut – Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

German tells Mike that before he begins excavation, he needs to sure up the building to avoid a cave in. And, without using equipment visible from the surface, well, that’s much more difficult. And that’s before they even get to the amount of dirt loads they’ll need to remove (about 200 loads to remove 1,700 cubic meters of dirt).  Further, going as deep as they need to, it’s going to involve blasting (Mysterious Man from earlier, you’ll recall said no need for this) – the German will need schematics of the “utility in the area.”  He continues that once all of that is done, then he’ll need to build casts for the retaining walls and pour over a 150 cubic meters of concrete. And this is all just the beginning stages, he makes clear to Mike. And in secret, located not far from a town?!? The German is scoffing hard.  “This is also not, uh .. optimal. A project like this … many many things can go wrong.”  Enter, Gustavo Fring. He asks if it’s impossible then?

Photo: AMC

“Dangerous. Difficult And very, very expensive. Not quite impossible.”

Gustavo introduces himself and then switches to German. This pleases the German who introduces himself as Werner Ziegler. I think someone just got the job … which we still don’t understand (but, I think we all understand).

Bernalillo County Courthouse.  Jimmy arrives at the courthouse for his regular PPD Meeting (kind of a lawyer probation meeting). In the bathroom, he runs into Howard who … looks like garbage. Jimmy asks if he’s okay and Howard says he’s supposed to be in court in 25 minutes but, insomnia is ruining his life. I guess? I’ve had insomnia, I don’t think I’ve ever looked like Howard does. Maybe I did and no one told me.  Howard says he wouldn’t wish it on his worst enemy.

“Don’t they have pills for that?”

Jimmy is always pragmatic! Not able to help himself, Jimmy asks what’s “eating” Howard. Howard goes to answer but then catches himself. “I think I’ve shared enough. More than enough,” he responds. Jimmy recommends he go see a shrink, he happens to have a number handy but Howard says he’s already seeing someone. Twice a week in fact. Jimmy is dubious that it’s working given Howard’s current state (Odenkirk communicates that entire feeling with body language -a credit to his acting ability).  Howard leaves and Jimmy shreds the number of the psychologist. I don’t blame him if you’re going to base the effectiveness on how Howard looks …

In his PPD Meeting, Jimmy confirms his attorney fees are up to date, his community service is completed and has a job at CC Mobile (he gives an address of 8351 Louisiana Blvd. which, according to Google, has shops at Sedona Pointe – but no CC Mobile is visible (in particular because it’s a fictional company but I do this research for YOU).  There is a Kohls across the street if you’re interested).  The officer asks Jimmy to bring pay stubs next month for proof of hours worked. Jimmy confirms he’s not associating with known criminals. “Alright, month 2 looks good.” The officer asks if Jimmy knows what he’s going to do once he his license back? “I have some plans.”

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill – Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

“In 9 months and 24 days, I will get my law license back. My partner and I will  get a new office. It’ll be like it was BUT bigger AND better. Everything will be better. I’m going to have more clients. I’m going to win more cases. I’m going to be a damn good lawyer and people are going to know about it.”
“Okay, so. Lawyer.”
“Yeah. Lawyer.”

And scene.

Thoughts.  

Jimmy’s final monologue was really more for his own benefit than the PPD officer’s so don’t feel so bad it didn’t have the emotional impact on him that Jimmy was probably going for. Let’s stay on this final scene for a bit. Coming off his brief meeting with Howard and how bad he looks like (that’s the result of therapy, Jimmy sees), and watching Kim’s success, and Jimmy getting mugged by punk ass little bitches, and the entire PPD officer hearing process, Jimmy the Good is breaking apart. You can see that he wants to be good, you can see that he wants to be the lawyer and the man that his (now dead) brother could have been proud of. But, it’s slipping. It’s slipping through his fingers and he’s losing control to his Devilish impulses. At this pace, I can’t see how we still have lovable Jimmy by the end of this season.

In fact, the final scene tonight was a nice bookend to the chaotic cold open. We began tonight with our first Better Call Saul look at Saul Goodman. And not riding high on the corrupt hog, Saul Goodman that Walter and Jesse first meet. No, we are seeing the end of days Saul. With Francesca shredding files and Jimmy raiding his walls and ceiling for hidden cash stockpiles and that box (what’s in the box?!?), we got to see one of the final moments of Saul Goodman’s life. Sometime after that last burner call was made, Saul Goodman (nee Jimmy McGill) became Cinnabon Gene.

Which, all begs the question, where are we headed to this season?  I called at the beginning of this season that it feels like we’re racing full throttle into the beginning of the Breaking Bad era. Tonight’s cold open, in the future but going back in time from Cinnabon Gene to the end of the Breaking Bad days, only reinforces that thought.

We’re moving from two ends of the Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman time line spectrum – each working towards the middle. And the middle will be … well, we don’t know yet. But my guess is somewhere near the beginning of the Breaking Bad days overlap.

Further proof of that? The Mike/Fring storyline which was the B plot tonight, I’d say. Clearly, Fring, though Mike, was interviewing architects for the eventual place we’ll know as Walter’s Super Meth Lab Kitchen. The one that Gale will run initially.  If the Super Lab is up and running in Breaking Bad and we saw the first step towards it’s construction tonight, well, we’re on a semi-well defined arc to the beginning of the Breaking Bad storyline if not the actual Walter White story.

Last, the C plot tonight which was Kim and her troubles. At the expense of her only real client, Mesa Verde, Kim indulged her need to feel relevant and helpful in the meaningful way all doe eyed lawyers aspire to. But, she learnt that you can hang up clients, especially the powerful ones, and she needs to get her shit right or else she’s going to find herself being a very good do-gooder lawyer who is also very, very poor.  I’ve been there girlfriend, make the right choice. Being able to afford food and shelter and clothes is really, really important.

Until next week guys.

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