Rivals. That was the focus of “Sabrosito,” the 4th episode of Better Call Saul’s 3rd season Monday night. And it was an extremely satisfying episode for all the “Breaking Bad” diehards as Mike and Jimmy’s journey took a backseat to Gus and Hector’s rivalry, a feud rooted in both business and personal issues.
Gus and Hector aren’t just bitter rivals; they are complete polar opposites. Gus maintains a clean cut image of a great boss to work for who is active in his community and does not consider remedial activities (such as sweeping the restaurant or busing tables) beneath him. Hector, on the other hand, sits back, allowing those beneath him to do the dirty work. And when Hector walks into Los Pollos Hermanos to meet with Gus, he might as well have been carrying a sign saying “I sell drugs for a living.”
(Major “Breaking Bad” spoilers coming, so don’t continue reading if you haven’t watched it yet)
We all knew there was bad blood between these two men. Hector did kill Gus’s business partner and was willing to blow himself up just so he could take Gus out after the meth dealer took out the rest of the cartel. But it was a true delight to see Gilligan and crew begin filling in the blanks between “Hector shot your partner” and “Hector’s going to blow you up.”
So let’s start this recap with all the wonderful details of the rivalry between New Mexico’s finest drug kingpins.
“Everyone Must Keep Bringing it Like This.”
The opening scene is a look back in the past at the residence of Don Eladio, the man running the cartel Gus and Hector work for.
Hector informs the Don of the ice cream company he’s just started to serve as a cover for Hector’s drug business. He also brings money wrapped up in rubber bands and a “Sabrosito” statue.
But one-upping Hector at every turn is Don Bolsa, who (representing Gus) brings Don Eladio significantly larger stacks of cash and a Los Pollos Hermanos t-shirt. After seeing the money Gus is bringing in, Don Eladio raises the bar, saying he wants “money like this” from now on.
The only person that last line was meant for was Hector. And to further remind Hector of his second-tier status to the Don’s favored son (for now), Eladio puts on the Los Pollos Hermanos shirt and uses Hector’s gift to mock the man.
A Drug Dealer Walks Into a Chicken Restaurant…
Back in the “Better Call Saul” timeline, Hector is in a desperate situation. We just saw the pressure Don Eladio has him under to produce. And now that the DEA is investigating his business, Hector needs another means of transporting his product.
So Hector wants to use Gus’s trucks for moving product. And just how does Hector mean to persuade Gus to go along with this? By going after Gus’s pristine image. Hector doesn’t care if people know what he does for a living. He’ll walk into the middle of a restaurant and light up a cigar despite the pleadings of the assistant manager to stop. He surrounds the place with enforcers, causing many customers to leave. He walks behind the counter (where only employees are supposed to be!!!!), pours himself a drink, and waits in the manager’s office. Hector did everything but vocally proclaim “Hey folks, I’m a drug kingpin” in this because he didn’t care that people knew.
But Gus does. So Hector is using the threat of interruptions to Gus’s legitimate business to get him in line.
“A Bullet to the Head Would be Far Too Humane.”
Gus takes Hector’s offer/threat in stride. He dismisses his employees, cleans his restaurant, and eases his employees fears about what happened the previous day.
Then, Gus heads up to the parking lot where Mike works. Earlier, Mike refused to accept money for the job he did to help Gus (another vain attempt to get out of the criminal world).
Gus inquires about the money and gives Mike a standing offer to work for him full-time. And why did Gus not allow Mike to go through with shooting Hector at the end of last season? Because the man deserves far worse (such as ending up in a wheelchair and only being able to communicate with a bell?).
Now, I was surprised by the turn taken in Chuck and Jimmy’s rivalry. I never thought Jimmy would take the deal last week that put’s his law license in danger. But here were Kim and Jimmy preparing a confession (one in which Jimmy admits to a felony) and already prepping for a hearing before the New Mexico Bar Association.
But Kim and Jimmy have something up their sleeves to help gain the upper hand in their battle with Chuck. First, Kim calls every repairman in Albuquerque until she finds the one Chuck hired to fix his door. She cancels the appointment and sends Mike, pretending to be the repairman, in that spot.
Mike brings a power drill and hilariously keeps Chuck away every time he pushes down on the handle. With Chuck upstairs, Mike takes pictures of the house with a disposable camera. He also retrieves a note from the desk.
Then, at the PPD hearing, Jimmy submits his confession and apologizes to Chuck. After Jimmy storms out, Kim confronts Howard and Chuck about the tape. She correctly guessed that another recording (the original recording, as it turns out) of the tape exists, and Chuck expects it to be played in the hearing.
But something Chuck said gave Kim exactly what she needed, as her last word of the night was “Bingo!”
-Ximenez (the truck driver Mike robbed last season) made an appearance tonight. Hector introduced him to Don Eladio shortly after Hector hired him.
-Apparently, Mike’s pursuit of revenge against Hector has taken him away from spending time with his granddaughter. That’s ironic considering it was his love and concern for her that got him back into criminal activity to begin with.
-We finally have a Nacho citing. But we’ll have to wait until at least next week for him to utter his first line.
-So Gus dismisses his employees for the day with pay, pays them 24 hours for their troubles, and offers to pay for counseling if needed? Is Los Pollos Hermanos hiring right now?
-In a show filled with clever “storytellers,” Gus is as good or better than any of them.
-What exactly is Gus planning to ensure Hector doesn’t come back?
-The prosecutor for Jimmy’s case, Kyra Hay, sure was sympathetic to Chuck’s condition. Was she just playing the part of his attorney, or does Chuck have Miss “tough but fair” fooled?
-And is her work with the show done already? Or will she continue to work the case at the bar hearing?
-Did I mention Chuck running from the sound of a power drill was just hysterical?
Breaking Bad Returns (Once again, Breaking Bad Spoilers Follow)
-Don Eladio was the drug boss Gus took out at the end of season 4. Eladio previously had Hector kill Gus’s business partner right in front of him. I’m not sure how the two men ended up back in business together since we know Eladio at one time wanted Gus to stick with chicken.
-Juan Bolsa also appeared in tonight’s episode. He was a go-between for Gus and the cartel in “Breaking Bad” just like he was tonight. But much like Gus’s relationship with Eladio, Gus and Bolsa will not end on good terms. He also helped Hector hold down Gus so he would be forced to watch his business partner die.
So how exactly do the photos, the note from the desk, and what Chuck said about the tape tie into Jimmy’s bar hearing? Based on the previews for next week, I don’t think we’ll have to wait long to find out. See you then.