'Better Call Saul' season 4 episode 6: 'Piñata' sees the end of the Wexler-McGill dream and Gus antagonizing Hector
Episode 6 was eventful in the typical 'Better Call Saul' way, with the underground lab now underway and Jimmy proving to be as conniving as ever.
'Quite a Ride' opened with a blast to the past: Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk), or shall we say Saul, is frantically destroying any and all evidence as he seeks to make his escape from Albuquerque following the DEA's discovery of Walter's (Bryan Cranston) meth empire. It's a throwback to a time that many yearn for — if the rumors are to be believed, 'Better Call Saul' will eventually take us on a tour to Gene's life — and it ended with Jimmy snapping his cell phone in half.
Cut to present day and the former and future lawyer finds that his cell phone sales job isn't as exciting as he'd expected it to be. But ever the go-getter, he decides he can make a quick buck by peddling the phone by appealing to his targets' fear. A brief pitch on how the phone guarantees privacy is followed by an instant sale, though all that hard work goes down the drain when he's jumped by three teens who decide he's an easy target. But the feeling is that this would not be the last we would be seeing of them.
Kim (Rhea Seehorn) has found herself increasingly detached from her work with Mesa Verde, culminating in her breaking an important call on Paige (Cara Pifko) because reporting at that time would have meant abandoning her client in a criminal case. Though she does apologize later, it seems likely that she was about to give up on her banking law venture.
In another throwback to 'Breaking Bad,' we saw Mike (Jonathan Banks) scoping out a warehouse for an underground lab. This, presumably, will become the same underground lab where audiences witnessed some iconic showdowns between Walt, Jesse (Aaron Paul), and Gus (Giancarlo Esposito). And as usual, Mike is his diligent and meticulous best, ensuring Gus only partners with an engineer who is entirely aware of the gargantuan task at hand.
And as for Howard (Patrick Fabian), this is the first we see of him since his breakdown in front of Kim and Jimmy in the season's pilot. Jimmy runs into Howard at the courthouse, frantically washing his face and looking a beaten, weathered version of himself. Howard confesses he's been suffering from insomnia, though his admittance that he's seeking help to get over Chuck's (Michael McKean) death already means he's farther on the road to recovery than Jimmy, who may quite still be in the throes of denial concerning his brother's death.
Episode 6 is aptly titled 'Piñata' — as viewers will see for themselves at the end — and looks to continue the season's slow build towards Jimmy earning his law license back and possibly becoming Saul Goodman.
Building an underground meth lab is not as easy as it sounds
Sarcastic title aside, building a meth lab comes with its fair share of impediments and obstacles, and as Mike rightly points out, it's paramount they don't forget the human element involved. As Gus and him walk around an enormous warehouse, Mike notes how these workers will be toiling away 10 hours each day in absolute darkness in atrocious conditions, so the least they deserve is a comfortable living accommodation.
However, as Mike reveals his plans to renovate the warehouse, Gus is called away by one of his henchmen who informs him there's an infection — one would reasonably assume infection was code for a mole within the organization, but it turns out that the reference is quite straightforward (more on that later). So, Mike takes on the responsibility of setting up a quality living space, and when we return to the scene by the end of the episode, it's clear he's done an excellent job. But there is trouble brewing, and the former cop is suspicious of one of their new employees; a suspicion that we've seen in the past is quite well-founded.
Gus is relishing Hector's plight
Gus and Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) share some less than pleasant history, as has been recounted numerous times in the past. A man with ice in his veins and who you could describe as the epitome of equanimity, the Los Pollos Hermanos supremo's one weakness in 'Breaking Bad' is shown to be his inability to control his visits to Hector. And while Walter would eventually use that to his advantage, in 'Piñata' we see the beginnings of his visits to his former superior.
Gus's antagonization of Hector was always something to behold because it portrayed a side to him that was so carefully masked and hidden away. Despite his lust to take revenge for himself, Gus uses Nacho's (Michael Mando) poisoning of the Salamanca patriarch as an opportunity to 'get one back.' The infection his henchman mentioned proved to be one that threatened to kill Hector, and after Gus rushes to the hospital to ensure he doesn't miss his possible death, he begins recalling a tale from his childhood. As it proceeds, it becomes apparent that the tale is an anecdote for how, even if Hector manages to recover, he is now forever in Gus's clasp. The scene just reiterates what we already knew: Gus is one of the best villains ever to grace television.
Wexler and McGill no more
Kim snapping at Paige was a precursor of things to come, and in episode 6, she decides she needs assistance in handling a client as large as Mesa Verde. If her endearingly gazing at Jimmy's scribbles speculating the name of their joint-venture law firm didn't clue you in already, her visit to Schweikart & Cokely should have. She's all but ready to accept a partnership offer at the firm, but selflessly takes Jimmy out for drinks and takes his opinion on the matter before accepting.
It's a watershed moment for Jimmy as well. When Kim reveals the development to him, the heartbreak on his face is apparent, and he makes a brief exit where he's shown struggling to keep it together. But after all, she remains his only friend, and he puts aside personal sentiments to wish her the best in her new undertaking. It felt like the end of an era, but also the beginning of a new one which brings us to...
Jimmy is no pushover, and as conniving as ever
As Kim gently dabbed at Jimmy's wounds in 'Quite a Ride,' he was shown to be distressed at how easily the three street thugs had taken advantage of him and stolen his money. He was not going to let such a slight go without response, and in 'Piñata,' he attempts to negotiate with the trio in the hope they leave him alone during future sales.
However, when they refuse his admittedly generous offer and pull a knife on him, Jimmy leads them in a merry chase and into an elaborate trap. All three are wound in duct tape and hung upside down in a dimly lit warehouse, quivering and begging for mercy. While Jimmy attempts to make the terms of the negotiation crystal clear, the background is filled with the thwacks of baseball bat on piñatas. It seemed as though baseball bat on human bones was the next logical step, though Jimmy shows he's still not that barbaric, cutting himself a pleasurable deal with little brouhaha.