Spoiler Warning for Season 3, Episode 6 of “Better Call Saul,” as well as all seasons of “Breaking Bad.”
Saul Goodman has made his long awaited debut. Yes, you heard that right. After 2 and a half seasons of Jimmy McGill’s antics, Saul Goodman has made his first appearance, but that doesn’t mean that Jimmy is dead yet. “Better Call Saul” just keeps getting better as it further transitions into its successor series. Familiar faces and places return as the conflict between cartels intensifies. There are also significant developments between the McGill brothers as the aftermath of the jaw-dropping hearing plays out. Bad is breaking and there is no going back.
For much of the series thus far, Nacho (Michael Mando) hasn’t really stood out to me, but in this episode, he really gets his time to shine. As a high ranking member of Hector Salamanca’s cartel, Nacho is put in charge of dealing with money drops. “Breaking Bad” alum Krazy-8 (Maximino Arciniega) makes an appearance, but is short on money; Nacho cuts him some slack, but Hector isn’t happy and slyly orders Nacho to beat Krazy-8 up as an intimidation tactic. Later, Nacho is shown working in his father’s upholstery shop where he accidentally gets his hand stuck in the sewing machine, not giving off any signs of pain. It’s quite clear that Nacho isn’t fully content with his line of work and violence isn’t something that he is fully comfortable with.
Nacho’s life is threatened as he leads a meeting with Gus’ men to hand over some of the drugs; Nacho pushes the boundary as he states that Hector is expecting more drugs than Gus’ men originally agreed to. This causes tension as one of the men phone Gus to get approval. The story takes a very interesting and familiar turn as Gus is revealed to be inspecting an industrial laundromat that is for sale; this is clearly the same laundromat that Walt and Jesse use to cook meth. There is another link to the original series as Gus meets with a woman in a car; this woman turns out to be none other than Lydia Rodarte-Quayle (Laura Fraser), who is helping Gus to expand his drug empire. Lydia may have had a short run on “Breaking Bad,” but her character is absolutely fantastic and this return opens up the door for more of her scheming and anxious actions. The final major development on this side of the story comes in the form of Hector explaining that he basically plans on taking over Nacho’s father’s upholstery business to assist in smuggling drugs over the border. Nacho is deeply bothered by this, but there is a hint that he may find a way out of this future as Hector drops one of his pills after hearing that his nephew Tuco has caused problems in prison; Nacho picks up the pill and hides it from sight. Is Nacho the reason that Hector ends up in the wheelchair?
The rest of the episode features Jimmy as he celebrates his new life without Chuck. The verdict from the Bar hearing is revealed and the worst case scenario has been avoided; Jimmy hasn’t been disbarred, but he has been suspended for a year. Kim and Jimmy share champagne together in the office while discussing their win, but Rebecca arrives and kills the mood. She asks Jimmy to go with her to Chuck’s to convince him to let them in, clearly worried about Chuck’s well being. For all intents and purposes, Chuck is dead to Jimmy and he flat out states that they are no longer brothers. Rebecca is pretty pissed by this and expresses her intent to help Chuck deal with his mental illness. I don’t blame Jimmy at all for turning his back on Chuck; after years of emotional abuse and lies, Jimmy is clearly tired and needs to focus on himself. This isn’t to say that Chuck shouldn’t be helped, but Jimmy might not be the best person to provide it.
Chuck is dealing with things in his own ways, mostly by sitting in his dark house alone. That is until Howard arrives with some expensive booze to lighten Chuck up. Howard is surprisingly positive about the verdict and states that this is a new beginning for everyone, including Chuck. This seems to strike a nerve with Chuck, who decides to seek help after Howard leaves. First, he tests his disorder by putting batteries in his hands and gauging his reaction. Later, he is shown leaving his home covered in mylar and making his way downtown to a payphone where he schedules an appointment with his doctor; the cinematography during these scenes are beautiful, placing the viewer in Chuck’s shoes as the lights and sounds of electronic devices are amplified.
Jimmy isn’t without his own problems as he quickly realizes that he must alert all of his elderly clients that he will be taking a year long hiatus from the law; with the help of Francesca, he calls each client individually, something that few people would have the patience to do. He also realizes that he must cancel all future airings of his commercials as advertising his law practice would go against the suspension agreement. That being said, he still has unused ad space left that will go to waste if he doesn’t sell it; however, there is a term in his contract that forbids reselling ad space, so he must find a loophole. This is where Jimmy’s skill as a sleazy lawyer comes to the forefront as he essentially creates a makeshift marketing company where he offers to film commercials for small businesses; he avoids breaching the contract by charging for production of the commercial rather than the airspace. Jimmy films a commercial to advertise the service and it actually works, but he chooses to operate under an alias. You guessed it, the alias is Saul Goodman. He has arrived.
“Off Brand” is far less tense than previous episodes, but still manages to keep the story moving at a rapid pace. With Jimmy transitioning into Saul, his connections are slowly slipping away; he’s has disconnected from Chuck and Rebecca, but will he lose Kim? While he may be getting his money back thanks to this advertising scheme, he may end up pushing the remaining people in his life away. The return of Lydia is an amazing surprise and her relationship with Gus will likely set up further storylines as “Breaking Bad” rests on the horizon. Lastly, Nacho’s storyline becomes slightly more relevant as his role in the Salamanca cartel becomes complicated. Be sure to tune in to “Better Call Saul” next Monday at 10 p.m. on AMC.