There are lots of great call-backs to previous episodes in Better Call Saul 505. Not only is the episode’s title a dedication to Max Arciniega, the other hermano of Los Pollos Hermanos, but some old friends of Jimmy’s show up to add to the fun, and another Goodman is called upon to tend to Mike’s medical needs.
The episode opens with Mike trying to walk back to civilization. He quickly finds out it’s further out than he bargained for and he’s not recovered from the stab wound enough to make the trip. Up drives Gus’s doctor friend, Barry Goodman, in a small vehicle that looks very out of place in the Mexican wilderness and not a very comfortable ride for the oversized Dr. Goodman. He tells Mike that “he’s asked me to keep you alive.” Gus is not mentioned by name but it’s clear who we’re talking about. Mike grudgingly agrees. He doesn’t really have a choice.
At the Acker residence and future site of the Mesa Verde Regional Call Center, Saul plays the change-the-house-number game again. We’re not sure how he pulled it off, but it seems to have bought Mr. Acker some time. Only a day, but more is to come.
Kim meets with Kevin and Paige on the outdoor patio of Kevin’s country club. Kevin’s golf buddies are waiting for him, so the meeting doesn’t take long. Kim and Paige tell Kevin that Acker’s lawyer is “Kim’s Jimmy.” She blames the coincidence on Jimmy’s aggressive marketing. She offers to recuse herself from any part of the proceedings regarding the Call Center, but Kevin thinks that’s part of the plot, to remove the best counsel from his side of things. He says Kim stays in charge of it, and gets up to go join his golf buddies. Kevin knows Kim’s got this.
Doc Goodman tells Mike how far he is from home and that he won’t survive the journey if Mike were to try to go home on his own. He advises him to rest. Mike wants to know why Gus had him brought here. The doctor says he doesn’t know.
Then we see a view of the courtyard of this compound, which has a modern black square multi-level fountain in the center of it. The fountain looks out of place compared to the rustic architecture of the buildings. One side of the fountain has a plaque on it that says, “Dedicado a Max.” This refers to Max Arciniega, who we met briefly in a flashback scene in episode 408. In that episode, we learn that Max and Gus were partners in the founding of Los Pollos Hermanos chicken restaurants and also in the plan to use the restaurants as a legal front for a meth business. Max was going to be the cook. They approached Don Eladio with the idea of selling meth, which could be manufactured in the US, as a better alternative to having to import cocaine from south of the border. Don Eladio sees this as a threat, when it was really just an idea before its time. The druglord has Hector kill Max right in front of Gus on the poolside of Eladio’s mansion. This was the act that caused Gus to plan revenge on the cartel.
Jimmy is concocting something. We see him break something inside a duffel bag. Then Kim comes home, and Jimmy wants a blow-by-blow of the meeting with Kevin, with voice impressions. Kim does a hilarious imitation of Kevin and Jimmy imitates Kim. A classic scene. But we don’t learn what Jimmy’s up to with the duffel bag.
Mike is playing MacGuyver, but he’s not trying to escape. He’s rigged up a way to charge his cell phone, after not being able to make an international call on the landline. He calls Gus, but Gus says “now is not a good time.”
At Mr. Acker’s house, we learn that Jimmy had pottery in the duffel bag. There’s an archeologist on site who says there are valuable artifacts buried there. The foreman theorizes that Saul buried them there, but the sheriff won’t evict Acker in the middle of a dig. This is followed by a montage showing the multiple outrageous ways Saul tries to buy time on behalf of his client. They show Kim receiving paperwork and passing each batch to a different assistant to deal with. Some of the more clever attempts involved Saul dropping radioactive material on the soil, and another day he paints an image of Jesus on the fence and Huell’s church comes to visit the site of the “miracle.”
Kim and her boss, Rich Schweikart, try to convince Kevin he can move the call center to the alternative site that Kim proposed in a previous episode. He tries to spin this as a win for Kevin and Mesa Verde. But Kevin doesn’t buy it; he doesn’t want to be pushed around, and he says he won’t move the call center “one god-damned inch!”
We see a real moment-of-truth moment for Kim. We may very well look back on this as the choice that put her on the path that leads to not a very good outcome for the complicated Kim Wexler. Jimmy and Kim are lying on the bed (this time fully clothed and on top of the covers) talking over the outcome of these legal maneuvers. Jimmy says it’s over, there’s no reason to go any further. He’s never really cared about Mr. Acker, who he says will be in another house and no real harm done. But she clearly doesn’t want to give u. Jimmy has an idea, but he gives her one more chance to stop now and stay loyal to her “bread and butter” client, but Kim wants to know what Jimmy’s idea is. He says the idea is to go after Kevin personally. “It gets nasty, it gets personal, it gets dangerous.” We haven’t seen the full repercussions of this danger, I don’t think, even by the end of Better Call Saul 505.
First Jimmy calls Mike, but Mike says no. He doesn’t share his circumstances with Jimmy, but he’s not really in a position to help Jimmy.
He is in a position to help the Senora, however. The window is leaking during a storm, and the next day, Mike plays handyman and replaces the windowsill with one he’s obviously cut to fit.
Jimmy calls another guy, and they meet with him in the back of the nail salon. Saul introduces Kim as Giselle and the guy is Mr. X. He says couldn’t find anything on Kevin except a DUI 35 years ago in college. Kevin is “an Eagle scout with a 6 figure income.” Saul thinks he didn’t look hard enough, but he keeps talking and proves he did a thorough job but he didn’t find the skeleton in Kevin’s closet. He passes them 2 stacks of snapshots — one of the house and one of the stuff on Kevin’s desk. Then he suggests taking Kevin out to the desert and roughing him up, and Jimmy shows him the door. Kim shuffles through the pictures and focuses on some framed pictures. Kim smiles and it’s clear she thinks she found something that will get them what they want.
The next day, Kim’s boss, Rich, confronts her. He isn’t buying that Saul getting involved was a coincidence. He remembers how Kim wanted to help Mr. Acker and he reminds her where her loyalties should be. She tells him off, claims he’s got it wrong, and goes back to her office with everyone watching. She’s clearly angry. This anger may cause her to do something she’ll very much regret. We’ll have to wait and see.
Gus shows up at the compound. Mike wants to know why he had him brought there. Gus reveals how much he knows about where Mike is at in his life, that he’s been drinking too much and challenging street thugs. “You are at a crossroads,” he tells Mike. Gus says he thinks Mike understands. But Mike doesn’t. “Understands what?” And Gus explains the reason for his war with the Salamancas: “Revenge.”