Another Week, Another Excellent Better Call Saul

I know I said that the descent into full Breaking Bad-town last week came as a bit of an unwelcome surprise, but it now seems like a necessary evil. It made the transition into this week far smoother, as the rapidly shifting aesthetic of the show had already been reintroduced.

Breaking Bad fans will recognize the setting of the opening scene. Don Eladio’s back! Sure, he was a pretty minor character, but he sure was an entertaining one. It’s also nice to see another glimpse behind the cartel, as it sheds more light on the origin of the nefarious Gustavo Fring.

Speaking of Gus, Giancarlo Esposito turns in one of his best performances to date in this episode. The dichotomy between his ruthlessness and genuine kindness was brilliantly displayed this week. He’s a horrible person – but he cares about his employees at Los Pollos Hermanos. By separating these two aspects of his life, he gives himself the ability to justify his actions, no matter how despicable they may be.

That entire sequence at Los Pollos Hermanos was terrific. Better Call Saul continues its excellent streak of populating one-off characters with excellent actors, as the employees of Los Pollos Hermanos didn’t really look like actors in the traditional sense. But they sure could act. The escalating tension was incredibly drawn out – almost too much so – but it justifies its lengthy runtime by the end. It also reinforces the tried-and-true Better Call Saul theme of someone’s actions having swift and far-reaching consequences. As you’ll remember from last week, Mike’s sabotage of Hector Salamanca’s delivery trucks forced Hector to put the squeeze on Gus, thereby bringing him closer to Mike. Everything has a purpose in this show, which makes it uniquely entertaining and satisfying to watch.

However, that’s not all that happened this week. We picked up with Jimmy and Kim’s battle against Chuck and Howard, and things aren’t looking good for our dynamic duo. Chuck is as layered and human as ever (as well as extremely punchable), but he’s definitely showing some cracks in the armor. Jimmy’s speech to him has obviously really rattled him, and he’s allowing his hubris to cover up his weaknesses, in a way that actually suggests some hope for the team of Wexler and McGill.

The show looked great again this week, but we’re still a little off from the high-water mark set by the first two episodes of the season. I’ll keep talking about the cinematography until I go blue in the face. It’s worth it.

So it’s another week, and another excellent episode of Better Call Saul. The two halves of the show still feel divided (and I noticeably winced when the episode made the hard pivot to Kim working in her office), but everything else about this week’s entry was pretty great. Please watch this show.

4.5/5 Manila Folders

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