Spoiler Warning for Season 3, Episode 4 of “Better Call Saul,” as well as all seasons of “Breaking Bad.”
In each of my reviews for this season of “Better Call Saul,” I have mentioned how the story and tone is becoming more and more like that of “Breaking Bad,” but the latest episode is on a completely different level. With the focus being placed on Gus Fring, his restaurant and his connection to the drug cartels. Jimmy’s story takes a bit of a back seat, but there are significant developments in his case as Chuck becomes even more despicable than he already was. With the show drifting into more danger territory, I have to ask the question, are we about to lose some characters?
I could tell right from the opening scene that this wouldn’t be a normal episode. We’ve already seen Hector Salamanca (sans his iconic wheelchair and bell) a few times in “Better Call Saul,” but this episode shows off his relationship with drug kingpin Don Eladio (Steven Bauer) as they have a meeting in an eerily familiar location. Who could forget the pool at the mansion in Mexico where Gus sadistically poisoned Eladio and his henchman? The series returns to the location, but not for mass-murder; instead, Hector meets with Don and Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda), another “BB” alum, to discuss the under performance of the cartel’s cover businesses lately. As rival to Gus’ drug empire, the men are obviously angry, but Don takes the time to humiliate Hector and show favoritism to Juan. Now, Hector isn’t one to give up, so he makes his way to a Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant to speak with Gus, only he isn’t there so the associate manager is forced to deal with his shenanigans. Seeing the manager trying to get Hector to follow the rules is unnervingly stressful and makes for a fantastic scene that shows how determined Hector is. Gus finally arrives only to discover that Hector’s men have been holding his employees hostage; there is a tense scene as Hector demands that Gus team up with him to allow for the Salamanca drugs to reach more customers. Seeing Gus in a more submissive role is something that has never really been shown, but it is important to note that he still has plenty of character development to undergo before he reaches his “Breaking Bad” status.
This episode also proves that Kim is the real MVP as she schemes alongside Jimmy to get some dirt on Chuck. By calling several Albuquerque repair businesses, she is able to find the one that Chuck called to have his door fixed. She cancels the appointment and alerts Jimmy, who recruits a familiar face to do their dirty work. On the day of the appointment, Mike shows up at Chuck’s house to act as a spy for Jimmy; hilariously using an electric drill to drive Chuck upstairs, Mike snaps a few photos of the inside of his house before repairing the door and leaving. I really hope we get more scenes between Chuck and Mike, because Jonathan Banks and Michael McKean had immediate on-screen chemistry and their characters almost feel like foils. Still, I’m worried that Jimmy’s plan of using Mike just might backfire if Chuck ever crosses paths with him again. There is also some further development between Mike and Gus as they have a brief meeting to discuss their future together; Mike rejects payment for disrupting Hector’s business, but shares his openness with doing other jobs in the future.
On the legal side of things, Jimmy and Kim meet with Howard, Chuck and ADA Hay to confirm the written confession and set the terms of their agreement. Chuck is completely irritated by Jimmy’s wording and failure to mention the cassette tape in his confession; Chuck continues to be the most infuriating person in the series as his constant bitchiness causes those around him to feel uncomfortable. At the meeting, ADA Hay goes over the rules for Jimmy’s probation, as well as his payment to Chuck for damages; she also makes him apologize to Chuck, making her seem like a mother forcing two siblings to make nice. After the meeting, Kim tricks Chuck into revealing that a copy of the tape exists by stating that she plans on making a motion to conceal the evidence; clearly Kim and Jimmy have a plan in place and the exclusion of the cassette tape from the confession makes sense now. Will they attempt to destroy the tape? Are Chuck and Howard already on to them?
“Sabrosito” is yet another incredible episode of one of television’s most underrated series. The level of intensity keeps rising as the characters slowly open up their darker sides. The developments for Gus and Mike are exciting and it will be interesting to see them transition further into their future selves. Seeing Jimmy and Kim working together is amazing and I love their relationship more each episode, but I am still fearful for Kim’s long-term survival. The tone and cinematography of this episode feels just like “Breaking Bad” and the smooth transition is both eerie and gripping to watch; I especially like how they kept the slight yellow tint for scenes taking place in Mexico. As the season nears its midpoint, the growing conflicts are sure to lead to an explosive second half. Be sure to tune into “Better Call Saul” next Monday at 9 p.m. on AMC.