'Better Call Saul' season 4 episode 5: Gus wants an underground meth lab and Howard is struggling in 'Quite a Ride'
'Better Call Saul' continues to inch its way toward 'Breaking Bad' territory, with Gus setting the foundation for building his underground meth lab.
'Talk' would ironically unfurl with a lengthy silence; 4:55 to be exact, if you're not being a pedant and don't count the singular sentence in between. The episode would be a rare showcase of Mike's (Jonathan Banks) emotional side, as the former cop is shown to still be struggling to come to terms with his son Matty's death.
Portrayed as stoic, meticulous, ever-suspicious, and prepared, it's a side to him that's seldom seen. Though it was all of a twitch of the eye here and a scowl there, his annoyance at daughter-in-law Stacey (Kerry Condon) is most definitely something new.
The return of murder muchachos (it's got a better ring to it than the Salamanca brothers or the murder twins) Leonel and Marco Salamanca (Daniel and Luis Moncada) to the series was always going to be a precursor to more violence. 'Better Call Saul' had so far proven to be just as much a slow-burner as its more decorated predecessor, though the random and spectacular bursts of violence were one of the aspects noticeably missing.
The season 4 trailer did promise more action, and action was what the viewers got in 'Talk.' The two brothers practically walk into the heavily-armed enemy territory and wipe everyone out, leaving a trail of fire and blood in their wake.
Kim's (Rhea Seehorn) increasing disillusionment was also a running theme in past episodes, and in 'Talk,' she tries to combat this by trying to regain her love for the law. The random trips to court suddenly took on a new meaning, and despite a sitting judge's warning that he would throw her the leftover cases, she remains unfazed. Will a petty street criminal end up leading Kim to her path of salvation? Unlikely, but interesting nonetheless.
Wouldn't be an episode of 'Better Call Saul' without Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) attempting to con his way to easy money, would it? As it turns out, it can! Despite initially harboring ulterior motives, he presumably has his plans changed after a conversation with Kim and ends up taking a job as a mobile salesman at a local store. Business is unbearably slow, so Jimmy decides to put his marketing flair, as well as keen sense of manipulation, into use and paints an advertisement in the hope it can lure in some poor souls into his elaborate scheme.
'Quite a Ride,' to the delight of many I assume, kicked off with a throwback to Saul Goodman in the business end of his 'Breaking Bad' days, ending with Jimmy hurriedly snapping his phone in two and foreshadowing what was to come in the next 50-odd minutes.
Jimmy is a mobile cell phone salesman, but only temporarily
Unfortunately for Jimmy, his hand-painted sign was not enough to attract a line of customers outside his desolate store. But despite being out of the law game, his manipulation skills seem to be on point, convincing a gullible customer to walk out with a handful of the phones by pitching the idea of "information hygiene." Jimmy epitomizes the principle of "don't sell a product, sell an idea," and the convinced he should be doing better, decides to become a mobile cell phone salesman.
His knowledge of the inner workings of the law means there's no one better at bending it or pitching the fear of it to the public. Jimmy practically made himself into a one-man conglomerate: he created a problem, and conveniently happens to have a solution at hand. But despite his success at his new job — as well as ease in conning the business for some quick cash — it's apparent his only goal is to get back into the law game, as evidenced by how the episode closes out. While it has been suggested that his transformation into Saul Goodman will near its completion in season 4, it appears increasingly unlikely, especially considering the reinstating of his law license is still some ways off.
Kim is back in court
Kim is no longer a spectator at the court and has a client to defend in a case. It's easy to forget how tenacious and cutthroat of a lawyer she is at times because of her more restrained presence around Jimmy, but it's on full display here, and it's quite the sight to behold. She outmaneuvers the prosecutor effortlessly to get the defendant an exemplary plea deal and then proceeds to chew his ear out for showing her sass. It's a side to her that, frankly, viewers would not mind seeing more.
However, her disenchantment with the profession remains, and Mesa Verde still hangs like a black cloud over her head. As she takes on a second case involving a young woman who has been indicted for drug possession, Kim snaps at Paige (Cara Pifko) and abruptly cuts an important phone call that pertained to a critical error in the documents. Though she profusely apologizes later, she still appears distant, and a self-destruction seems imminent.
The underground meth lab is soon to be underway
From Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) taking a box cutter to his accomplice's throat, to Jesse (Aaron Paul) smuggling away some of the crystal meth for his own gain, to Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) perfecting the formula much to Walt's (Bryan Cranston) horror, the lab was the setting for some of Breaking Bad's most iconic scenes. And now, it's set to make a comeback (not chronologically speaking, but you get what we're saying).
'Talk' closed out with Mike being propositioned by Gus for a new task, and in 'Quite a Ride' we get to see what this secretive task is. Mike, still ever-suspicious and fastidious, stakes out engineers who can make Gus's underground lab a reality. Quality meth has been hard to come by, and with the Salamanca clan crippled, the door is open for the Los Pollos Hermanos supremo to stride in and claim the market. As intimidating as ever, and aided by some brilliant cinematography, he walks out from the shadows to seal the deal with a peculiar German man, unknowingly setting forth a chain of events that will lead to his own demise.
Howard is still struggling
After Chuck's (Michael McKean) insurance premiums are hiked thanks to Jimmy's intervention, Howard (Patrick Fabian) forces the elder McGill out of HHM. Evens in the aftermath eventually result in Chuck killing himself and Howard shouldering a burden of guilt that's left him emotionally crippled. Despite pouring his heart out to Jimmy in the season's curtain-raiser, he would receive a cold response, sending him spiraling down further.
Jimmy happens to run into Howard in the bathroom of the courthouse and finds that his former boss is now struggling with insomnia. "I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy," Howard proclaims, and he seems to mean it. He admits he's seeing a psychiatrist to alleviate his troubles, though the signs all but indicate that the fates — and by fates, we mean Gilligan and Gould — do not have a kind ending in store for him.