Bromine, Barium & Chromium
On the way to Gale’s chemistry lab, Gus gets a phone call from Juan Bolsa, who is nervous because the Salamancas got hit. He wants to suspend any cross-border drug trafficking in the near future, and tells Gus to find a stateside supplier. Gus appears to be already working on this, as his mission to the lab is to hear results of the purity tests he’s asked Gale to run on several meth samples. Gale tells him the samples range from 39 to 59% pure, though there is one sample that’s 67%. “I could do much better,” Gale says, pointing out all of these samples are sub-par. Gus says it’s not the right time and tells Gale, “You were meant for better things.” As he leaves, he tells Gale, “I’ll see you soon,” and Gale continues the word-perfect rendition of Tom Lehrer’s song, The Elements that was interrupted by Gus’ arrival.
Gus may be engineering a need for a meth cook in America, but it looks like the ones he’s found so far are not very competent. We get some insight into what he saw in Walter White.
Chuck Wrote a Nice Letter
Like Kim, we were expecting the letter Chuck left for Jimmy to be mean and spiteful, much like their last in-person encounter. Instead, Chuck’s undated letter says nothing but complimentary things about how he sincerely admired Jimmy’s energy and resilience and respected what Jimmy had made of himself “in the last few years.” But he mentions Jimmy being “a valued member of the HHM family,” hinting that the letter was written some time ago, before Jimmy got his law license and was forced to strike out on his own after Chuck refused to allow him to work as a lawyer at HHM.
The letter has Kim completely convinced, and she has to excuse herself to have a good cry. Jimmy, however, knows the truth that, despite Chuck’s well-crafted words, Chuck was not “a person you knew was always in your corner.” At least, he sure wasn’t in Jimmy’s corner.
Beautiful Contrasts and Questions
This episode is full of surprising Breaking Bad Easter Eggs, amazing camera angles and dramatic tension. Jimmy talks about doing “Something Beautiful” by taking advantage of the free money collectors will pay for the Bavarian Boy Hummel, but the true beauty in this episode is in the camera shots and the scenery:
- The tragedy of a beautiful classic Oldsmobile 442 being destroyed (low angle shots of the twin exhausts, bullet holes in the side, and blood spatters on the broken windshield mirroring the red leather interior).
- Editing effects that underscore the seriousness of Nacho’s injuries, as we can literally feel him blur in and out of consciousness as the twins move him and Caldera starts treatment.
- More great shots of the Neff Copier location with its unique view of the bottom level of a parking garage.
- Excellent night shots of Jimmy lying awake next to a sleeping Kim, Ira sneaking around the dark copier shop, and Jimmy and Ira making their getaway on foot after the heist.
Wide-angle shots of Juan Bolsa on his horse ranch (when all that was really needed was a head-shot of him on the phone).
- Multiple different interior shots at the Mesa Verde headquarters, including the huge bronze statue and a room filled with architecture models of planned future branches.
Notable character interactions and contrasts:
- Mike giving Jimmy advice and Jimmy blowing it off.
- Caldera stepping away from the Cartel heat, while Nacho is still in the frying pan.
- Viola, Kim’s new paralegal, is calm and competent, while Kim is concerned and almost crestfallen at the rapid expansion plans Mesa Verde has in mind.
- Kim dissolving in tears and leaving the room, while a stoic Jimmy watches her. Once again, emotions are dividing them instead of bringing them together.
Questions we’re left with as the Better Call Saul season 4, episode 3 ends:
- What has Mike been up to, besides eating bacon and eggs?
- How much will the collectors in Dallas offer Jimmy for the Bavarian Boy?
- Who will Gus find to make meth now that he can’t bring it over the border?
- Gale is working on an experiment to make a strong solution of benzodiazepine (a class of drug that includes valium and xanax). Is this a throw-away line or will this be important later?
- What is Kim up to at the courthouse?
I guess we’ll have to wait for next week’s episode of Better Call Saul to find out.
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