Title: Better Call Saul, Season 5 Episode 2 – “50%”
Release Date: February 24th, 2020
Genre: Crime Drama
Better Call Saul has been notorious for its slow pace in times past but this episode and the last? Whew, it feels as though the story arc has barely started. But regardless, let’s jump into the second episode of Better Call Saul Season 5, shall we?
So, the episode opens up with Saul promoting the 50% deal he talked about in the last episode. Every criminal who signs up with him will receive 50% off non-violent felonies. The charismatic and enthusiastic Jimmy, continuing to embrace the Saul Goodman persona, wastes no time in handing out cards to potential clients. Ironically, the 50% deal empowers them to deal with more crime, not do less. A short club-track-laced montage shows this in full effect.
But Jimmy doesn’t care, of course. He just wants a successful business – and this is a way of achieving that. He’s a dirty conman who’ll do anything to get the job done, and this episode shows that in spades. In his bid to negotiate with district attorney Suzanne for softer penalties for his clients, he not only reveals himself as the manipulative salesman but also as someone willing to do anything it takes to win. As always, he makes for the more entertaining scenes of Better Call Saul.
But it does not just matter at work that concern Saul in BCS, but matters of the heart. Kim still feels somewhat alienated by Jimmy (even scolding him for the stunt he pulled with the fridge guy last episode), but Jimmy remains optimistic about their future. He takes Kim to look at a large house where they could move to in the future, but the latter seems doubtful about the whole thing. Honestly, it seems the season is gearing up towards some conflict between her and Jimmy – perhaps a realization that they are not suitable for one another.
Meanwhile, Gus Fring is eager to know what exactly Lalo Salamanca is up to. And Lalo himself clearly doesn’t trust Gus, even questioning the latter’s building project from Episode 1. Fring applies the pressure onto Nacho Varga to earn the crazed druglord’s trust and find out just what he’s up to. It’s scenes like this that make Fring such a great part of the series. Varga is restrained in the back of a car, and Fring watches him through the top mirror, his aura as threatening and cold as ever.
Mike has parted ways with Gus – at least for now – by the time the episode opens. Instead of playing the hitman, he plays the grandfather, which creates some cute scenes. But at the same time, his murder of Werner Ziegler – and his anger over his son’s death – is still evident in Mike. In many ways, Better Call Saul humanizes him more than Breaking Bad did. And its scenes such as these that remind you of how good that is.
What’s evident in this episode is how slowly things are moving in BCS Season 5. I know this is a rehashed argument, but it’s relevant. The overall plot is moving at a painfully slow rate here. And, for some people, that may not be their thing. If one thing has been clear about the show, it’s that it takes its time developing the characters as opposed to delivering weekly thrills and chills. It’s perhaps the most distinguishing factor between it and Breaking Bad.
So, Gus is putting the pressure on Vargas to find out what Lalo is up to, and Vargas gains his trust – great. That’s something, I suppose. Vargas even performs a crazy stunt that helps him develop a little respect in Lalo’s eyes this episode. But Lalo, as a character, seems to be stuck in suspended animation in Better Call Saul. He’s funny and charming, sure, but there’s not an awful lot going on with his character. There are signs he’ll be a threat to Gus later in the season, but as of now, we’ve no idea how. The audience isn’t even let in to his plans, much less Gus.
And okay, yes – the awkward interactions between Jimmy and Kim are perhaps signs their relationship won’t last much longer in Better Call Saul Season 5. It’s somewhat reminiscent of how Skyler acted after Walt killed Gus in Season 4. But Jimmy and Kim’s relationship hasn’t reached any new ‘story beats‘ since the last episode. And while we see Saul Goodman consume more of Jimmy McGill in his interactions with fellow lawyers and attorneys, nothing unusual happens to him until the cliffhanger.
Without spoiling too much for Better Call Saul, let’s just say the episode’s cliffhanger finally seems to tie together the two main plotlines of the season thus far. That is the Jimmy McGill and Drug Cartel storylines. But even then, it’s not a cliffhanger that leaves you desperately drooling for more. It does, however, leave some hope for the viewer that, finally, something will happen already.
And that, at least, is something that we can hope for in the next episode.
Verdict: BCS Season 5 Episode 2 – 50% is entertaining viewing and shows us some slight development in some of our characters. Seeing the consequences of Saul’s 50% off deal is brilliant. But otherwise, it’s moving at a snail’s pace, and the series has to pick up its pace if it is going to deliver the satisfaction its audience demands.
- Great to see Jimmy in his Saul Goodman element
- Interesting to see the build-up with Gus and Lalo's rivalry
- Great acting all round
- The plot is marching forward slowly.
- Not much of significance happens in this episode.