Title: Better Call Saul, Season 5 Episode 6 – “Wexler vs. Goodman”
Release Date: March 23rd, 2020
Genre: Crime Drama
Better Call Saul continues to build up its ever-expanding arc in this sixth, fifth season episode, increasing the tensions between Kim and Jimmy that have slowly been building this season and continuing the rivalry between Gus Fring and Lalo Salamanca.
The episode gives us a flashback to Kim’s past, getting picked up at junior high school by her drunken mother. Although the woman insists that she’s only had one beer, Kim is as savvy as a child as she is in the current timeline and sees through her mother’s weasel words, refusing to share a car with her. It ends with her mother driving away in frustration, but gives viewers an insight into the disappointment Kim has had to deal with during her life. She’s always been a ‘sucker’ of sorts, surrounded by people who’ve let her down or just been plain untrustworthy. Her career as a lawyer is all she has – and Jimmy.
But Jimmy’s antics this episode is enough to challenge this. More than ever, Better Call Saul is beginning to amp up the tension between Jimmy and Kim, and it honestly makes for some great scenes. Viewers with good memories will recall that in the previous episode, Jimmy and Kim were fighting to ensure Mr. Ackers kept his land – where Mesa Verde desperately wish to build their call center. But by the beginning of this episode, the pair have finally decided to let it go – at first glance. While Kim wants to let it go due to Richard suspecting her of collaborating with Jimmy – and of maintaining her own professional dignity as a lawyer – Jimmy isn’t entirely done yet. And it’s this determination to win that brings out the Saul Goodman in him.
In a meeting between him, Kim and the rest of Mesa Verde’s bigwigs including Kevin and Richard, Jimmy asks for $4 million on behalf of Mr. Ackers, which astonishes the board but that’s not all – Jimmy also essentially blackmails the group by accusing Kevin of stealing a copyrighted image for his company logo and having the evidence to prove it. He has also put together a handy little video of actors accusing Kevin and his company of a large number of scandalous misdoings. Kim is shocked by her boyfriend’s actions, but that’s all part of the play – her honest reactions to her partner’s scheme ensure that the suspicions of Richard are swiftly erased.
Once again, we watch Saul Goodman play his cards right with a sort of guilty admiration. We know he’s insanely good at what he does and that he’s sticking it to ‘the man,’ so to speak but, at the same time, it further strains his relationship with Kim. Kim herself plainly states that she feels like “the sucker” and feels like she can no longer trust her boyfriend due to his mischievous plans. Yet another person she thought she could trust in her life has broken it – but this doesn’t stop Kim from giving her partner a stunning ultimatum. Either they break up, or they get married.
The other part of the episode is primarily dedicated to Mike, who is once again under Gus Fring’s payroll. Mike returns to his old dirty tricks as a ‘fixer,’ disguising himself as a private detective to obtain a coerced testimony from a librarian. This, combined with planting hit-and-run files in the police office, propels the police to pursue Lalo in their cars, surrounding him. Only one episode in as Gus’s fixer and already Mike has caused some real damage – as if we weren’t already convinced of his badassery before.
But what’s cool about this episode – as with a good deal of the rest of Better Call Saul – is how it humanizes Mike, too. When Nacho meets up with him and Gus to snitch on Lalo’s plans against them (including his use of Krazy-8 from a few episodes ago), even Mike appears to take pity on Nacho’s situation. Episodes ago, Gus threatened to kill his father unless Nacho succumbed to his demands. When Nacho asks Mike for his help, the cold ‘fixer’ says that he’ll help him once Lalo is ultimately dealt with. Even when he’s back on the job, it’s good to see some empathy and humanity arise in the character – he knows what it’s like to have a family you care about.
So, as the fifth season of Better Call Saul rides on into its thrilling second half, we’re left with questions that have been leading us on from the start of the series whole. As Jimmy and Kim’s relationship becomes ever more strained, what will ultimately break them up? She’s not present in Breaking Bad – does she die as an unintended result of Jimmy’s conniving antics? What will ultimately happen to Lalo – who Jimmy mistakenly thinks kidnaps him in Breaking Bad? One can’t help, but this whole season is leading up to something big.
Verdict: A dramatic and intriguing episode that ramps up the tensions between Jimmy and Kim, heats up the rivalry between Gus and Lalo and brings Mike back into the ring. A truly fantastic episode.
- Great to see Jimmy and Kim's relationship tested due to his Saul antics
- Seeing major development in Kim's character
- Mike returning as the 'fixer'
- The Lalo-Gus rivalry is heating up - what could be in store?
- Whatever grand event is being built towards - will it be worth it?
- Slow as the series progresses, will the end be worth the slow pacing? Not always a given.