Title: Better Call Saul, Season 5 Episode 7 – “JMM”
Release Date: March 30th, 2020
Genre: Crime Drama
Better Call Saul is delivering the dramatic goods as always, bringing Lalo ever closer to a showdown with rival Gus Fring.
The slightly-psychotic but smart druglord – and Gus Fring’s rival – found himself in jail the last episode after Mike coerced a librarian to deliver a testimony via phone call to the police and planted evidence in their office. Naturally, the grizzled Salamanca calls Saul to take on his case and get him released on bail. But given the severity of his crimes – going under a fake name, no less – even the usually charismatic and confident Jimmy McGill doubts his client’s chances of success in that department.
But something else troubles Jimmy – his promises to Kim. The episode starts out with the pair marrying in the presence of a judge, where Kim and Jimmy promise no more secrets and to be completely open with one another. And, initially, Jimmy is just this – admitting to her that he’d be representing someone from the cartel and knowing she’d disapprove. He tells her that he’s just going to do it anyway, pretends to give it his all, and apologize when he failed. But during the court hearing, the judge makes it clear he’ll only let Salamanca out on a $7 million bond. Lalo is confident he can get it, meaning that Jimmy stays on the case and has to deal with further repercussions.
Inherently, this will further complicate Jimmy’s relationship with Kim. The two make a pact at the beginning of the episode to tell each other the truth, no matter what. And Kim certainly doesn’t want her new husband to get involved in the dirty dealings of the cartel. But it seems that like it or not, Jimmy has got himself bound in the tendrils of Lalo, his colleagues, and rivals. What’s exciting is where this could lead – even Gus is interested in Saul’s help upon learning that Lalo asks Nacho to burn down Fring’s restaurant, the pivotal front to his drug operations. And so, Mike asks Jimmy to get Lalo out of jail too, really laying the pressure on the lawyer.
Why Gus wants Lalo out of jail is up in the air at this point. But a possible answer might lie in the fact that clearly Lalo being in jail isn’t impeding his progress in any way. He still manages to get hold of a mobile phone while in his cell to contact Nacho to burn down the restaurant. He still presents a problem for the ever-aspirational Gus. Perhaps they plan on finishing him off for good outside the relative safety of the prison walls? It may be the only chance they have at getting rid of him.
This is further aided by the restaurant destruction scene at the end of the episode. Ironically, it is Gus who does the explosive deed. Perhaps they want Lalo to think the act was all Nacho’s doing, just like they want him to think Nacho is loyal to his side. Lull the fiend into a false sense of security before they polish him off for good.
As far as performances go, this episode has a chock full of notable ones. Giancarlo Esposito’s performance as Gus Fring is as powerful and multi-layered as ever. The way he gives off so much threatening power with his mere facial expressions is just another reminder of how lucky we were that he decided to return for Better Call Saul. Then there are the masks he wears – from his warm public persona to the sweet-talking friend he plays when trying to reassure Herr Schuler that his business is in no danger of falling due to the meth cover-ups. Doing the latter is integral to Gus’s game as the meth business is what he’s all about behind all the masks, and Esposito plays this well.
But where performances are also concerned, one has to give a five-star rating to Bob Odenkirk’s rant as Jimmy McGill at the very end of the episode. When Howard Hamlin drops the job offer he gave to Jimmy, wondering whether he upset him by doing so, Jimmy gives him what for. Insisting that he was more “amused” by Howard’s job offer than upset, we’ve seen something we haven’t seen for a while – a mad Jimmy. Dropping an F-bomb, Jimmy lets out a series of loud statements that turn heads within the building, as he claims that he is “a god in human clothing,” traveling in worlds that he’ll never understand. And yet, the rant comes off as so insecure and doubtful at the same time that it gives off an additional layer on Jimmy. And good on Bob Odenkirk for that.
Verdict: Better Call Saul ups the performances and propels Gus and Lalo ever further into a gang war that will decide the fate of the meth business in New Mexico. Jimmy gets himself embroiled further into the dark corners of the cartel as he continues to represent Gus. A truly riveting and tense episode.
- Great performances across the board as usual. Jimmy's rant is especially honest and brutal.
- Things are really heating up between Fring and the Salamancas. Looking forward to what follows
- As always, the pace of BCS isn't for everybody's tastes. It's a slow build-up.