Better Call Saul 504 opens with one of those classic what-is-he-up-to? scenes that fans are crazy about. We don’t know what he’s looking for, but we get a couple of clues. Obviously he’s not looking for a present for Kim or a piece of decor for their apartment. Is he going to escalate the toss-the-beer-bottles-off-the-balcony game from last week’s episode? He’s clearly testing how these items are suited to being thrown. How far does he want to throw them? What will the consequences be? We’re definitely curious! He ends up buying 3 bowling balls and a bag to carry them in.
The next scene shows Jimmy and Kim asleep, naked. Then we see the remains of beer and pizza in the living room, and we get a hint at what took place after they left the balcony. Throwing the bottles must have been quite a turn-on. They’re clearly feeling the effects of the night before, as we can see in their morning brushing-of-teeth time, which features great cinematography, showing a close-up of each of them in turn in the small mirror sitting on the vanity counter.
Outside, the parking lot is covered with broken glass. Jimmy reads Kim’s mind: it bothers her because they are responsible. Jimmy reminds her the apartment complex pays people to clean up — or is it Saul who says that? They share a brief interaction about their upcoming days. Kim says, “Yesterday was bad. Today I’m going to fix it.” Jimmy says he’s finally having lunch with Howard. After Jimmy leaves, Kim sweeps up the broken glass in the parking lot. I’m wondering how long she had to search before she found the big yellow industrial-sized dust pan.
Before lunch, we Saul finally meeting the two guys who went on the crazy crime spree prompted by the 50% off coupon in episode 2. Saul says he knows a place that will say they served time in rehab when they really don’t have to show up — how does he have a connection like that at this stage of the game? His fee seems high to them, but he quickly uses his marketing genius on them, bragging that he got paid $8K for the work he did yesterday afternoon. Soon they are begging him to let them pay his fee to represent them. They don’t want a “public fender” or, as Saul calls them, “public pretender.”
Whenever Howard goes out to lunch, he meets other people he knows. This time is no exception, and he introduces Jimmy to Judge Lawler. Saul corrects the name and turns on the charm, but Howard doesn’t let the judge chat long; he wants to talk to Jimmy. Howard asks who Saul Goodman is, and Saul explains why the downtrodden Better Call Saul for help with their legal issues. Howard says he understands why Jimmy changed his name. He thinks he wanted to distance himself from the Hamlin Hamlin McGill name. “We took your legacy away from you,” he says. He apologizes and says he should have pushed for the firm to hire him, but Jimmy isn’t buying it.
Then Howard offers Jimmy a job, and Jimmy almost chokes on his dinner roll. He doesn’t say much, but when Jimmy downs the rest of his drink in a couple of gulps, we can get a pretty good idea how he feels.
Howard further crosses the line by giving Jimmy a hug as they wait for their cars to be brought back by the valet. As he drives off, we get a hint at Howard’s motivation: his license plate reads NAMAST3. The close-up shot of Jimmy shows he’s not at all happy with Howard.
Neither Kim nor Mike are Having a Good Day
Kim is in a meeting with Kevin and Paige from Mesa Verde, and we see how she plans to “fix” what went wrong the day before. She tries to convince them to move the planned call center to a different lot; she’s done research about recent improvements to the site she’s proposing, a site they apparently rejected previously, but she thinks the improvements make it a better option than they originally thought. She says throwing Acker out will damage their reputation. But Kevin says he won’t be pushed around and firmly shoots down her proposal. Paige says by noon on Friday the sheriff will have Acker out.
Mike shows up at Kaylee’s house because he understands it’s his day to babysit. Stacey has already called a sitter; she claims she never heard back from Mike, and she’s clearly concerned about him, but more concerned about what could happen if he’s left in charge of Kaylee. He tries to explain what happened before, but she realizes he’s having issues with Matty’s memory. She invites to come to dinner next week, but she’s clearly not ready to leave him alone w/ Kaylee. He walks off, not happy. We don’t see him again until the very end of the episode, but, reading between the lines, he probably headed back to the bar we saw him getting plastered in before.
Kim shows up in the courtroom where Saul is practicing law. She sits in the viewing area to watch Saul work. After a bit, he sees Kim. She nods a greeting. He’s challenging a witness — the only witness to the crime, a witness who is sure that Saul’s client committed the crime. But Saul pulled a fast one — one that might get him in trouble with the judge. Turns out the real defendant is sitting in the back of the courtroom and some other man who looks like him is sitting at the defendant’s table. The judge isn’t pleased, and calls lawyers into her chambers. Saul is pleased at the outcome: a mis-trial. We’re not sure what Kim thinks, but she’s got more pressing matters to discuss with him: she needs his help with Mr. Acker.
A Tense Night in Albuquerque
Gus is sitting at his desk, watching his cell phone. All the employees leave except for the Lyle, the manager, and then Gus expresses concern over the condition of the fryer. Quietly intimidating as only Gus can be, he doesn’t make Lyle do anything, but Lyle ends up cleaning the fryer again and again, while Gus sits at his desk, continuing to watch the phone. The phone is still not ringing.
Meanwhile, Hank and Gomez are watching the dead drop. We get to see classing Hank and Gomez bantering while they wait. The sequence is masterfully edited to build tension, cutting between Gus staring at his phone, Lyle sweating while cleaning the fryer, and the progress of the DEA operation at the dead drop. Someone on the radio tells Hank that the target is on the move. Hank says not to spook him.
Gus is clearly not satisfied that the fryer is clean enough. Or maybe he’s not happy about something completely unrelated to the restaurant. Lyle takes another shot at cleaning it. Gus goes back to watching the phone.
Diego picks up the money in a large culvert. He pauses and looks right toward where Hank and Gomez are parked. Hank thinks he made them, but then he walks back at a normal pace and Gomez concludes they’re good. But then Diego gets in his vehicle and speeds off. Hank and Gomez take off after him. Cutting back and forth between chase and Lyle cleaning the fryer and Gus watching the phone. Hank takes a shortcut to head him off, goes thru the culvert tunnel, comes out and turns the car sideways to block the road. Gomez uses the bull horn to tell him to get out of the car. He does, but then he runs off, leaving the car. Lyle is still cleaning, sweating. Hank and Gomez get out and search with flashlights and guns drawn. A gate at the end of a tunnel is open, brown water at the bottom. The two of them go into the tunnel. Hank says, “Let’s spelunk.”
But Diego makes it out the other end of the tunnel to where Victor is waiting in a car. Diego gets away, along with any hope Hank had of nailing the bigger fish upstream in the drug cartel.
Hank gives the team a summary, putting a positive spin on it. They got the money, they arrested 3 guys who “did the drop.” Hank tells them it is a job well done and offers to buy a round at O’Neil’s.
The cell phone finally rings and Gus gets the report: all clear, it went down like it was supposed to. Gus hangs up and destroys the phone. Lyle wants to know if the fryer is clean. Gus says “it is acceptable” in a tone that leaves doubt about what he really thinks. We know he’s not thinking about the fryer at all.
Why Kim Felt She Better Call Saul
Next morning, Saul at Mr. Acker’s door. He doesn’t let the fence stop him, but goes straight to his front door, and puts his foot in the door to keep him from closing it in his face. “I’m the guy who’ll do whatever it takes to stick it to them” (Mesa Verde). Saul has convinced Mr. Acker to let him represent him, all without having to say “Better Call Saul.” We don’t see the outcome — could it cause problems for Jimmy and Kim’s relationship? Kim seems pleased, though. She says it’s the “Best news I’ve had all day.”
After dark, Jimmy pulls his car up outside a fancy home with a wall around it. He climbs over the wall, bringing the bag with the bowling balls with him. He throws the bowling ball. The first ball lands in the driveway. The second one one lands on the hood of a car and puts a big dent in it, setting off the car alarm. The third one breaks the back window with a spectacular crash. Howard comes out onto an upper balcony and uses his remote to turn off the alarm. Jimmy was clearly bent on taking revenge on Howard.
Mike goes by the house where the thugs are hanging out, again. He’s asking for trouble this time, and they take the bait. He’s ready for them at first, but they are too much for him. They start punching and then kicking and then one pulls a knife and stabs him in the gut. He loses consciousness. Next morning he wakes up in a bed in a pueblo-style house with a bandage on his belly. He goes outside and — well, let’s just say he’s not in Kansas anymore, or Albuquerque either — probably not in New Mexico even. We see a wide shot of a low pueblo-style building with a rough-built shack for sheep next to it. Mike’s in a courtyard, but we don’t see any other people. There are other small buildings and scrubby dessert plants on hills in the background.
Better Call Saul 504, The End of the Set-up
We’ve been waiting for some action. We got some tonight with the DEA operation, but what comes next is the fallout for all of these situations that have been set up for us. We’ll see where Mike is and what choices he has to make to get back to his normal life — or will his life never be normal again? Nacho is still very much caught in the middle, though we didn’t see him in this episode. He seems to have gained Lalo’s trust — what will Gus make him do next? And what will be the fallout from this legal situation Kim has gotten them into? Will it come back to bite her career in the butt? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and stay tuned for the rest of Better Call Saul season 5.