'Better Call Saul' season 4 episode 2: The biggest takeaways from 'Breathe'
Will we see Saul Goodman sooner than later? Will Fring get his vengeance on Hector Salamanca? Are the murder twins back for good? We answer these along with many more questions
After a gap of 14-odd months, 'Better Call Saul' returned for its fourth season last week. Creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have maintained the 'Breaking Bad' spin-off's consistently high standards over each of its past three seasons — the show is currently one of the most watched and most critically-acclaimed on television — and all signs indicated that the upcoming season would be anything but disappointing. The creators had previously teased the season would incorporate quite a few elements from its predecessor and that episodes would be getting 'darker and richer,' and the premiere held true to that claim.
The first episode, 'Smoke', was quite befitting for the premiere of a season where 'the overlap between 'Better Call Saul' and 'Breaking Bad' would be getting bigger and bigger,' with Jimmy's (Bob Odenkirk) transformation into Saul Goodman all but imminent.
There was also a 'flashback' to Gene dealing with the consequences of the fallout at the end of 'Breaking Bad,' struggling to hold back the waves of paranoia on getting his true identity discovered after admission into a hospital. The premiere also dealt with the loose threads from the finale of season 3, addressing Chuck's (Michael McKean) death in the house fire, Fring's (Giancarlo Esposito) annoyance at Hector's (Mark Margolis) stroke, and Mike (Jonathan Banks) taking his new job as a security consultant at Madrigal Electromotive a little too seriously.
'Breathe' builds up the narrative for Jimmy's transformation and makes headway into Gus Fring cementing his position as Albuquerque's top mob boss.
Slippin' Jimmy is back on the menu
While 'Smoke' closed off with Jimmy giving off an almost psychopathic vibe — he whistled jovially while preparing tea as a grief-stricken Howard (Patrick Fabian) moped over his guilt in the background, this one began with him meticulously preparing for job interviews. Still barred from practicing law but eager to get back on his feet, he sets about visiting centers around the city in the hopes of landing a sales position. A well-rehearsed presentation at a copier outlet all but lands him the job, only for him to go on an off-character rant on how they were stupid to hire him without doing their due diligence and storming out.
While undoubtedly conniving, we always saw Jimmy as well-mannered and approachable even at the worst of times, bending over backward to please people. But as usual, Gilligan and Gould had a plan in store, throwing a wrench into even the most ardent fan's predictions. It turns out Jimmy was casing the store, coming across an invaluable (well, $8,000 is still a lot) 'Bavarian Boy' figurine that he later, for all intents and purposes, was planning to rob.
A call to Mike with the offer for a job all but confirms that suspicion. Slippin' Jimmy was the showrunners' way of providing a window into the Saul Goodman persona through the previous seasons, so make of that what you will.
Kim shows why fans love her so much
When 'Better Call Saul' first premiered, it brought with it a cast of familiar characters: Jimmy, Mike, Tuco, Gus, and Hector were all familiar to viewers from 'Breaking Bad.' Howard, Michael, and Kim were the new faces in town, and while the first proved to be inherently dislikable (Howard less so), the latter would go on to endear herself to audiences. Selfless, caring and an ever-present rock by Jimmy's side, she would turn out to be one of the few who accepted Jimmy's flaws for what they were.
She endeared herself to fans even further after berating Chuck in season 2, telling him, "All he ever wanted was your love and support. But all you've ever done is judge him. You never believed in him, you never wanted him to succeed. And you know what? I feel sorry for him. [beat] And I feel sorry for you." And if that wasn't enough proof of her loyalty, she took it one step further in 'Breathe,' taking down former boss Howard in a putdown of epic proportions.
Taking Jimmy's place at the table for the dissemination of Chuck's assets in accordance with his will, she tears apart Howard for his perceived lack of sensitivity during the entire ordeal. She calls out Chuck's will for the farce it is, terming it as one last 'f*** you' from the grave and rejecting it outright. If anything's become clear at this point, it's that if something happens to Kim — after all, she's not in the timeline of 'Breaking Bad,' so much an assumption is not improbable — then the fans will riot.
The murder twins make their bow
It's unlikely that fans have forgotten the murder twins (actually 'The Cousins' but we feel this is a more appropriate description) from 'Breaking Bad.' Leonel and Marco Salamanca (Daniel and Luis Moncada), the nephews of Hector Salamanca, who came to be known for their austere, mechanical physicality and non-verbal interactions. Not that they needed to communicate, considering they are pathological, cold-blooded killers whose lack of remorse and emotion spoke loudly enough. In 'Breaking Bad,' the Salamanca Cartel called upon them when they needed to get rid of a 'problem,' and their entrance in 'Breathe' does not bode well for their intended target.
The murder twins are seen standing guard over their uncle as he lies in a coma in his bed at the hospital, striking their characteristic fearsome pose. Though unlike the previous instances where we ran across them, we hear them speak this time around if only a few rudimentary phrases and grunts in answer to the doctor's questions. The intimidation emanating around them was once again made apparent as well with the twins using all of one word to strongarm Nacho into speaking to Hector as per the physician's instructions.
It's unclear whether they have a further role to play as the season progresses but, if they do, it will have to do with an angle involving Nacho, the man who betrayed their uncle. Nacho was one of those who was not on 'Breaking Bad,' so it's possible that we see him sacrificed to appease the twins' bloodlust.
Gus Fring is back to his menacing best
Considered one of the greatest villains of all time, it is unlikely we see another on television who is as unique as Gus Fring who, while giving the appearance of being friendly and lowkey, is also Machiavellian, ruthless, and unforgiving. Esposito's forceful enunciation and deadpan delivery of spine-tingling threats are now iconic and earned the actor a Critics' Choice Television Award, and his introduction in the third season of 'Better Call Saul' elevated the stakes in the spinoff. Still his quietly menacing self, Fring brought to the fore the drug smuggling element that had so far been confined to the periphery.
If you asked any fan what they remembered Fring by, they would almost always quote you the scene where he took a box cutter into his hands and sliced the neck of one of his cronies in front of Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul). Why? To make an example out of him, of course. And while this side to Fring has been hinted at in 'Better Call Saul,' it remained hidden away, that is, until now.
For his high-handed nature, Fring certainly doesn't mind getting his hands dirty at all. 'Breathe' sees the Los Pollos Hermanos supremo commit a repeat of his 'Breaking Bad' shenanigans, albeit without the excessive amounts of blood and spectacular violence. He takes a ziplock bag and personally strangles one of Nacho's accomplices, informing him calmly that he had figured out Nacho's ploy saying "You're mine now." In his attempts to rid himself of one autocratic, dictatorial boss, Nacho seems to have walked right into the hands of another one.