Episode 1 of Better Call Saul’s 4th season was about the fallout: how would everyone bounce back from the events (Hector’s stroke and Chuck’s death) that ended Season 3.
And last week focused on two of the key players (Gus and Jimmy) of the Breaking Bad world as both men took one step closer to where they would be when they meet Walter White.
But this week’s episode, “Something Beautiful,” focused on what I consider (for now) to be the tragic players of the Better Call Saul universe.
Now, I don’t know if “tragic” is the word we will be using to describe what happens to Kim and Nacho that removes them from the narrative. All we know is they won’t be there when Walt and Jesse turn the Albuquerque meth scene upside down. And I don’t see anyway in which the exit for either one of these characters is a happy ending.
For Nacho, I see no way he survives his current predicament: a situation in which his first act was to be shot up to near death. There is no way he plays both sides in the dangerous game he’s playing and comes out alive.
For Kim, we see her break down at the end of “Something Beautiful”in way she didn’t even do when she fell asleep at the wheel last season. The potential workload she envisioned when Kevin from Mesa Verde presented his expansion plans along with her role in Chuck’s death are weighing heavy right now. And at some point, when you throw in the inevitable conflicts with Jimmy we all know are coming, that load will, at the very least, send her on her way (if not worse).
Now, Kim and Nacho were not the only significant stories from last night. Two mega players, Jimmy and Gus, both made big moves towards their futures: one bungled his way through a poorly thought-out scheme while the other showed why he’s playing on a level all his own.
“Gotta make it look realistic.”
After Gus and his crew took out Arturo and blackmailed Nacho, the question I had was just what they were going to do with the body. And I was really looking forward to seeing what they had in mind.
And I was not disappointed. Viktor lays out a chain (similar to the one Mike used in previous seasons to halt Hector’s trucks) and runs a car over it. Then, an SUV driven by Nacho drops off glass bits and bullet casings on the drive up to the car. Tyrus (the other henchman with Viktor) gets out and joins his partner in shooting up the car, making it look like an ambush.
But the best part (other than how Nacho comes out of it all) is the gunshot wounds to Nacho. Without those, the Twins and Don Bolsa would see through the whole thing. So Nacho takes an expected shot to the shoulder. He knew that one was coming. But the shot to the inner gut? Didn’t expect that one. “Gotta make it realistic” is what Tyrus tells him. But Nacho probably didn’t think “realistic” meant literally leaving him on the verge of death.
Nacho makes a call and gets the Twins to come out and inspect the scene. He tells them a Firebird pulled up and did this,and the Twins take him to everyone’s favorite criminal pet doctor.
“After I walk out, I never want to see you again.”
Dr. Caldera uses a blood transfusion to keep Nacho breathing, but he encourages Nacho to see an actual doctor with modern medical equipment about this. Caldera is also no fan of the Cartel and whispers to Nacho that he never wants to see him again. We’ll see how that works out.
Later on, Gus gets a call. He’s walking through a University campus when Don Bolsa tells him about the ambush. And the results could not have gone any better for Gus.
The attacked resembled the ones Hector endured previously, so Gus is able to play it off as the same people. And because of the “danger,” Bolsa wants no product crossing the border until further notice. He then asks Gus if he knows anyone who can cook in the US.
Now, all the Breaking Bad fans knew where this was going. And not only was Gus going to see Gale (remember him?), it was a relationship in which Gus had already been planting seeds. He gave Gale a number of samples of crystal meth (at least that is what I am assuming it is) for Gale to test. The percentages of purity (remember Walter White managed 99% purity) were ranging from 39% to 56% (with one at 67%). Gale tells Gus this stuff is terrible and offers to make it better. Gus refuses this initial offer knowing he’s motivated Gale to keep working on a superior product all on his own.
And just like that, Gus wins the game long before it’s been fully contested.
On the opposite ends of the spectrum from Gus tonight is Jimmy, whose poor planning and oversight were well below “Slippin Jimmy’s” standards.
Jimmy saw one Hummel figurine and thought the guys were stupid, and that’s all he needed to move forward with the heist.
I discussed last week how Hummel figurines range anywhere from common and cheap to vary rare and valuable. Jimmy bought one form a pawn shop that he wants to switch out with the very rare, valuable figurine in the office.
He tries to sell the plan to Mike, but Mike refuses. While I am somewhat disappointed we didn’t get to see Mike scamming somebody, it turns out he was wise to turn this offer down.
Jimmy eventually gets Ira (a character from Breaking Bad we’ll talk about later) through Dr. Caldera and convinces him to do the job.
Now, Jimmy did not take into account…
-the number of Hummel figurines on the shelf would end up greater this time than when Jimmy was in the office.
-the marital problems one of the “idiot”owners could be having that would lead him to have to stay at the office.
Sure, both of these could be written off as just dumb luck. But you know Gus and Mike would have known about these factors before sending somebody in there to do this job.
Ira replaces the statue (we’ll see if it’s the right one) and looks to make a breakaway when he hears a toilet flush. It turns out one of the owners has been kicked out of the house for buying a really expensive vacuum cleaner (and I am assuming this isn’t the first time he’s overspent on a product).
Jimmy has to show up and rescue Ira. He gets the owner to leave the office (with the door open) by setting off the owner’s car alarm and getting the car to role down the hill of the parking lot.
Ira gets out with what he thinks is the “Bavarian Boy” Hummel figurine. We’ll see next week if Ira got the right one.
“It’s a very fast, aggressive expansion.”
Kim has a new paralegal, one who is far more in line with who she originally wanted to hire last season for Jimmy and Kim’s joint office venture.
She’s meeting with Paige and Mesa Verde when Kevin comes in to greet her. After the initial handshake, he says he won’t interrupt any further just before he does anyway.
He wants to show Kim his plans for expansion. And it’s not a small expansion either. I overheard at least 3 new states where Mesa Verde wants to expand. You remember how stressful one expansion was for Kim. Now, Kevin wants to become licensed federally so they can plant branches all over the country. A clearly overwhelmed Kim seems to quit listening as Kevin goes on about all his grand plans and how confident he is Kim can handle all of it.
Kim is trying to stay ahead of the game as she asks her new paralegal, Viola Goto, to begin researching federal banking regulations. As Viola leaves, Jimmy the early riser is rising late this morning after his night out helping Ira escape.
It’s at this moment that Kim goes over with Jimmy Chuck’s will and letter. The $5,000 gets the expected “that figures” response. But the letter is what Kim is dreading.
After mulling it over, Kim hands the letter over and Jimmy reads it aloud. This is clearly a letter written while Jimmy was in the mail room at HHM, and it was mostly hogwash (“always in your corner?” sure thing Chuck)
Jimmy had a very ho-hum reaction to it, but Kim cannot handle hearing Chuck’s “final” words. She leaves the room crying as the episode ends.
-I started this recap discussing two characters we know aren’t making it to Breaking Bad. But Dr. Caldera (the vet) was another one (though minor) who will not be appearing. I wonder how clean a break he can possibly have with Nacho and the cartel, and will they have something to do with why he’s not there?
-It was good to see Kim finally delegating responsibilities. And without Jimmy forcing Francesca, a front office attendant who was all charm but no legal expertise, down her throat, she was able to bring in an assistant with actual legal knowledge.
-A nice touch giving Jimmy a fish at the start of the season so he would have a reason to go visit Dr. Caldera.
-Ira also left one of his gloves on the shelf in the copier office. You have to figure that will come back to bite Jimmy at some point in the near future.
-We now know Gus’s plot with Nacho is the reason he was able to start using suppliers in the US. Before last night’s scheme, Don Eladio would only allow suppliers from Mexico.
Breaking Bad References:
Two big ones last night:
-Gale, the cook who briefly worked with Walt before Jessie took him out in Season 3 made is first appearance in Better Call Saul.
-Ira is a thief who sold a pest control business to Walt, Jessie, and Mike in Season 5 of Breaking Bad. The trio used large bug extermination tents as they cooked. Before selling, Ira and his crew would frequently steal from the homes they were working in. Saul is the one who introduced the trio to Ira, so now we know how Ira and Saul originally met.
Three episodes in and the stakes are already intense as our characters near the Breaking Bad timeline. See you next week.