‘Better Call Saul’ Recap: It’s ‘Breaking Bad’ Time

A evaluation of this week’s Higher Name Saul, with the provocative title of “Breaking Unhealthy,” arising simply as quickly as I watch a cat consuming ice cream…

“She requested about me.” —Gene

And right here they lastly are. Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Because the latter would say: Yeah, bitch!

Saul Goodman was launched on a Breaking Unhealthy episode titled “Higher Name Saul,” so it appears solely becoming that the Higher Name Saul episode presenting those self same occasions from Saul’s perspective must be titled “Breaking Unhealthy.” The hour lastly brings us the promised cameos by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as Walt and Jesse, and it does present the viewers a few of what Saul was pondering and doing when his new shoppers weren’t round. Nevertheless it’s a lot much less desirous about presenting an alternate historical past of the Heisenberg period than in drawing parallels between the person Jimmy McGill had turn out to be by that time in his life and the person that Gene Takovic is quickly slipping again into being.

The place final week’s “Nippy” happened fully in Omaha, “Breaking Unhealthy” splits its time between the black-and-white Gene world and the numerous colours — generally muted, generally garish — of Saul world circa Breaking Unhealthy Season Two. We open with Saul mendacity on the ground of the RV — or, as Jesse reminds us that he calls it, “the Crystal Ship” — a bag over his head as he’s pushed into the desert by males he assumes works for Lalo Salamanca. Then we’re again within the Gene timeline, however in Albuquerque, catching up with a depressing Francesca, who now has to pay the payments managing a small house constructing occupied by morons. It’s November 12, 2010, two months after the occasions of each the Breaking Unhealthy finale and El Camino, and some weeks after Gene and Jeff robbed the division retailer. Additionally it is Jimmy McGill’s fiftieth birthday (in a franchise the place fiftieth birthdays are usually necessary turning factors for the protagonists). However extra importantly, it’s the date on which Saul and Francesca agreed — within the flash-forward teaser from Season 4’s “Fairly a Journey” — that she could be ready by a payphone for an necessary name. The particular person on the opposite finish of the road is our man, determined for any excellent news from his outdated stomping grounds. Most of what Francesca (who’s being paid for her time from some money Saul buried earlier than leaving city) has to supply is the dangerous form: With everybody else related to Walt’s exploits both useless or cooperating with authorities, Saul and Jesse(*) are the 2 massive targets remaining.

(*) As promised in El Camino, Jesse’s automotive was left down by the Mexican border, sending any manhunt in the wrong way from his new life in Alaska as “Mr. Driscoll.” 

Gene (Odenkirk) reaches out to Kim.

Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Photos Tv

There’s one promising improvement Francesca reluctantly shares, maybe out of the final residue of affection she has for the person who initially employed her: Kim known as to investigate cross-check her after Walt and Saul’s exploits turned very public, and he or she “requested in case you have been alive.” That is an comprehensible query from a lady who as soon as cherished him(*), however Gene treats Kim’s try for closure as a substitute as a gap to succeed in out to her. She has apparently caught to her determination to go away the legislation, and is working for a sprinkler firm in central Florida. We don’t hear both finish of the dialog Gene has when he calls the place, because the episode’s writer-director Thomas Schnauz shoots it from exterior the dirty roadside telephone sales space, however we are able to inform from Bob Odenkirk’s efficiency that it goes very, very badly. (If Kim couldn’t abide being with Jimmy after one particular person was killed, how do you assume she reacted to the information that he had aided and abetted a drug kingpin with a excessive physique depend?) Gene’s response — which incorporates screaming, slamming down the receiver, and kicking in among the telephone sales space’s glass exterior — suggests {that a} door has simply been loudly slammed in his face.

(*) However so what?

Jimmy allowed himself to completely turn out to be Saul Goodman as a approach to ease the ache after Kim walked out on him. And now Gene does the identical factor when he realizes that his dream of at some point reuniting along with her has been dashed.

The caper from “Nippy” had a lightweight, nearly triumphant feeling to it. It wasn’t a lot Gene channeling Saul, even with the shirt-and-tie combo he modeled on the finish, however Gene slippin’ again to his extra benign days as Jimmy. Nobody was actually harm, aside from Frank’s makes an attempt to scale back his waistline. What occurs after the Florida telephone name is far darker. Saul is in full management now, organising a radical, relentless id theft rip-off with Jeff and Jeff’s good friend Buddy. There is no such thing as a bigger goal to this the way in which there was with the mall heist. Sure, Gene would possibly wish to rebuild among the fortune he misplaced when the feds seized all of the belongings he thought he had fastidiously hidden away. Nevertheless it’s apparent that he’s doing it as a result of he wants the push he obtained as Saul, in addition to the power to harm different folks to masks his personal ache. As he methods one sap after one other with a really outdated hustle — pretending to get drunk with them when he’s actually draining every glass right into a sizzling water bottle strapped to his stomach — he revives his outdated nom de rip-off as Viktor. However it is a Viktor who doesn’t have Kim’s Giselle by his aspect, so there isn’t any element of enjoyable available. The cruelty is the purpose — even after he discovers that his newest mark, Mr. Lingk(*) has a complicated type of most cancers.

(*) The title is an homage to the sucker Ricky Roma takes out to dinner in Glengarry Glen Ross.

Although Gene briefly seems to be regretful on studying this, he nonetheless goes forward with the plan as standard. He’s livid to be taught that Buddy couldn’t undergo together with his finish of the operation upon noticing Lingk’s remedy, which has similarities to what Buddy’s father took to battle most cancers. It’s not simply that Gene, as he indignantly tells his underling, has a historical past with a most cancers affected person who was additionally an asshole — and that Lingk works as a handy stand-in for the person Gene actually desires accountable for his present circumstances, despite the fact that they’re fully a results of selections Saul Goodman made voluntarily — it’s that Gene not cares who’s harm, or how, simply as long as he has a way to shove down all of his personal ache for so long as he can preserve the grift buzzing. He fires Buddy and orders Jeff to drive him to Lingk’s home, so blinded with anger that he as soon as once more smashes some glass, this time breaking into the home after Buddy eliminated the duct tape over the lock. It’s totally reckless and pointless, for the reason that complete thought is to forestall the victims from realizing their data has been stolen till a lot, a lot later. However Saul Goodman — who Gene has turn out to be once more in all the pieces however title — doesn’t care. He desires extra. He wants extra. And he wants it now now now.

Lingk’s situation attracts a line again to the episode’s Albuquerque scenes circa “Higher Name Saul,” as we see that Saul knew about Walt’s prognosis even earlier than Walt advised him in “4 Days Out.” However the motive the flashbacks are right here — moreover the chance to see Cranston and Paul play these roles collectively one final time, on a recreation of the Breaking Unhealthy set the place they shared so lots of their finest scenes — is to underline what Gene is doing in 2010. After the bag has been faraway from his head and he realizes that his abductor is “Mr. Mayhew”(*), Saul is impressed to determine that these two clowns are those liable for the blue meth that has been inflicting such a stir on the town. He might simply take the cash they’re paying him to resolve the Badger scenario and return to what’s clearly a really profitable, pleasant, and pretty protected life. However being Saul Goodman is an dependancy, at all times creating the demand for greater and extra frequent highs. And in Heisenberg, he has discovered a person who can get him increased than he ever dreamed doable.

(*) This episode will be the largest take a look at but of the thought which you can watch Saul with out ever having seen its predecessor. There are facets of this collection that rely to some extent or different in your information of Breaking Unhealthy, however the flashbacks right here assume a information of the occasions of the “Higher Name Saul” episode that might render it notably inscrutable to the Saul-only viewers.

Schnauz masses the 2008 scenes with visible reminders of the unique collection: amongst others, the duct tape masking the bullet holes within the RV’s door, the notorious pink gentle of the RV from “4 Days Out,” and Mike carrying sun shades (like he did in his very first look) when he arrives in Saul’s workplace. However the Cranston-Paul-Odenkirk interactions are the marquee occasion, and so they reside as much as our anticipation. No, Paul doesn’t appear to be an overgrown child in his early twenties, even shot in darkness and with a beanie masking a part of his head. However Jonathan Banks doesn’t appear to be a middle-aged man anymore, both, and that’s labored out simply high-quality for his work on this collection. The Cranston-Paul chemistry is as crackling because it’s at all times been, and it’s a deal with to see as soon as once more how simply Walt will get aggravated with each Jesse and Saul, how keen Jesse is to point out off his chemistry expertise to anybody who pays consideration, and the way resentful he in flip can get with Walt’s high-handed demeanor. There’s no massive drama, as a result of it will really feel like a cheat to insert some new battle for them that wasn’t a part of the step-by-step course of we watched on Breaking Unhealthy. Nevertheless it’s them again of their component one final time, and it’s very, excellent.

The extra essential flashback scene in some ways takes place again at Saul’s workplace. He’s mendacity on the ground utilizing the Swing Grasp — which he purchases once more within the Gene timeline as one more approach to get that ol’ Saul Goodman feeling — when Mike arrives with new intel. That is one more callback, as Saul was in the identical place when Mike got here to threaten him in “Full Measure” — a second that’s arguably the closest Breaking Unhealthy ever got here to suggesting Saul knew all alongside that his investigator actually labored for another person(*).

(*) Right here, Mike refuses to speak with Saul till he turns off the Swing Grasp and stands up like knowledgeable. In “Full Measure,” he orders him to remain on the bottom, the higher for Mike to keep up his dominant place.

The brand new scene clarifies the true nature of their association. Saul is aware of that Mike is within the major make use of of “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” However Mike additionally does work for Saul as a method of gathering intel on the Albuquerque legal neighborhood, since Saul has bought Dr. Caldera’s little black ebook and is facilitating shady enterprise on the aspect. Extra importantly, it doesn’t try and retcon the character of Saul’s preliminary interactions with Walt. We all know, from the flashback in the beginning of Breaking Unhealthy Season 4, that Gus was already within the blue meth as a result of Gale wouldn’t cease raving about it. However Saul’s curiosity in working with Heisenberg is fully his personal. Even after Mike warns him that this man is a reckless newbie who will endanger anybody silly sufficient to work with him — recommendation Mike finally, and fatally, fails to take for himself — Saul can’t let go of the thought. In Heisenberg, he sees a meal ticket. Making an attempt to be “a good friend of the cartel” had nightmarish repercussions for Jimmy, together with the demise of Howard and the lack of Kim. However he has at all times been one to consider that the issue was by no means with the scheme, however its execution. This highschool trainer doesn’t appear to be the bodily or tactical menace of a Lalo, and is such a bumbler total at this stage that Saul sees him as somebody he can puppeteer into producing a big fortune for all concerned.

And the thought works, for some time. However then Walt and Gus go to conflict, then Walt and Jesse do, Walt and Hank, and Walt and the Nazis, and now the person who as soon as known as himself Saul Goodman lives alone in Omaha (and is again to paying intercourse staff), works in a shopping center, and will get his kicks working brief cons on well-to-do males in bars. It at all times ends in ruins, just like the statue of Ozymandias that gave the most effective Breaking Unhealthy episode its title, and that Saul unwittingly alludes to right here when joking about him and his new legal companions being buried in a sandstorm for a thousand years. He doesn’t take heed to Mike’s counsel within the workplace, nor does he take heed to Buddy and Jeff’s makes an attempt to inform him he’s taking the present sting method too far.

Jeff (Pat Healy) offers Gene some recommendation.

Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Photos Tv

The episode neatly transitions backwards and forwards between the eras in order that, as an example, Gene slamming the door of Jeff’s cab turns into Saul closing the door of his Cadillac as he prepares to confront Walt on the faculty the place he works. The best of those comes proper after the Walt and Jesse scene. Walt lastly will get the Crystal Ship working, however the digital camera lingers on the grave he and Jesse dug to scare Saul into cooperating, and that shot in flip dissolves into Gene mendacity awake in his mattress — the 2 compositions mixing collectively in a method that makes it look as if Gene is down on the backside of that pit. He has metaphorically dug his personal grave, regardless of ample warnings from Chuck, Kim, Mike, and now even Jeff. Even when he doesn’t get caught for breaking into Mr. Lingk’s home, he’s in a spiral fully of his personal making. He’s carrying Marco’s pinkie ring once more, and in any other case donning the tasteless garb of Gene Takovic, however there isn’t any one accountable right here aside from Jimmy McGill and the selection he made to turn out to be Saul Goodman.

That completely satisfied ending that Gene joked about with Marion final week appears very distant proper now, if not inconceivable.

Another ideas:

* I spoke at size with Thomas Schnauz in regards to the alternative to deliver again Walt and Jesse, why he thinks Mike remains to be working for Saul all these years later, and a complete lot extra. An awesome dialog.

* Vince Gilligan used El Camino to tie off one semi-loose Breaking Unhealthy story thread by having Jesse hear a radio report clarifying that Walt undoubtedly died from the gunshot wound, since some followers had speculated that he someway survived. Schnauz makes use of Gene’s dialog with Francesca to offer a bit extra closure to the unique collection. We be taught that the lottery ticket that Walt gave Skyler, that includes the GPS coordinates of Hank and Gomez’s burial web site, managed to get Skyler out of her authorized bother, as Walt had hoped. Extra amusingly, we discover out that Huell made it residence to Louisiana, getting off scot-free from his involvement within the legal enterprise as a result of Hank and Gomez left him illegally in a DEA protected home whereas they went off of their doomed pursuit of Walt.

* Francesca additionally offers us closure on a well-recognized determine from this collection, as we discover out that Jimmy’s outdated sparring accomplice from the DA’s workplace, Invoice Oakley, has gone into non-public follow, and even has “William Oakley & Associates” bus bench advertisements like Saul as soon as did.

* As soon as once more, we get a warped VHS tape model of a well-recognized Saul title sequence. And as soon as once more, the forged credit solely record actors who’re within the episode, so simply Odenkirk and Banks, with no Seehorn, Fabian, et al. It nearly appears like these closing 4 episodes are being offered as a quick sequel present to the one which ended with “Enjoyable and Video games.”

* That isn’t a canopy of The Monkees’ “Tapioca Tundra” enjoying over the id theft montage, however Mike Nesmith’s unique demo of the track. Schnauz loves The Monkees.

* “Nippy” gave us an in-jokey faux product by having Marion pattern a bit of Schnauz Cheese on the grocery store, and right here we see that Gene’s first sufferer has cash squirreled away with Cherkis Investments, named after longtime Saul author Ann Cherkis.

* One other callback to earlier within the collection: Gene buys burner telephones for Jeff and Buddy to make it simpler to be in contact with the scams.

* Lastly, that is the final episode of Higher Name Saul that critics can be seeing prematurely. So protection of the 2 concluding chapters will come later than has been the norm to date.