Saul: Halfway Through Season 5

WARNING: SPOILERS

So we are now halfway though season 5 of Better Call Saul, the penultimate season. Previously I’ve made predictions at the beginning of each season, almost all of which would turn out wrong, but I didn’t for season 5 because what was going to happen seemed obvious. And at the halfway point, I realized that most of my assumptions of what was to come are also wrong.

Saul

Jimmy finally made the metamorphosis into Saul at the very end of season 4, meaning he was well on his way to be the being the character he is in Breaking Bad. While this is mostly true, what I didn’t see was how he would have to go into full, tacky salesman mode to drum up business for his new practice. Some of his methods, specifically the 50% deal, lead to a rash of misbehavior that would not have happened if Saul had relied on more scrupulous, legal methods to build up his clientele. But on the other hand if he was behaving morally, he would not be Saul.

As for second lead Kim Wexler, the future seemed obvious. At the end of season 4 Kim is alarmed and seemingly abandoned after Jimmy becomes Saul. What seemed predictable was that the fissure between them would widen, Kim would devote more time to Mesa Verde and her pro bono work, and then her career would be imperiled by her association with Jimmy/Saul or possibly one of her sketchier pro bono clients. What I didn’t foresee was Kim biting the hand that’s feeding her. Her subterfuge against Mesa Verde, including enlisting Jimmy’s help to hire a shady private investigator to dig up dirt on Mesa Verde CEO Kevin Wachtell, shows a level of bad behavior we’ve never seen before from Kim.

Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 1 Review: Magic Man Is Very Ominous | IndieWire

Of course she’s only doing it to help an old man from being evicted, but the road to hell, as is said, is paved with good intentions. I knew things weren’t going to end well for Kim, but I thought she would be a victim of her naivete with regards to Jimmy and her new batch of pro bono clients, I didn’t think she would jump into the morass of Saul’s corrupt world with both feet. Kevin is a formidable adversary, and no doubt he’ll be extremely angry once he finds out about Kim’s betrayal. Rich Schweikart even gave Kim a chance to sit out the project once he figured out her plan, but she remained steadfast and refused to step aside. My dread for Kim has increased, and the reason for her total absence from Breaking Bad is now coming into focus.

The relationship between Mike and Gus hit a rough patch at the end of season 4 when Mike had to kill Werner. It was done at Gus’ behest, and Werner had really screwed up, but the immense guilt weighing on Mike was something I didn’t anticipate. I figured Mike would remain in Gus’ employ, perhaps through the common enemy of Lalo, and at some point they would be back on the same page, but the road back to unity took some very dark turns. When Mike picked a fight with street hoodlums that almost got him killed, it was Gus that saved him and brought him down to a village in Mexico to recover, which indicates to me that Gus has a respect, even a fondness, for Mike that goes beyond a transactional relationship, and he doesn’t want to lose him.

Better Call Saul Season 5 Review: Saul Goodman Steps into the Spotlight | Collider

As for dark turns, Nacho’s situation continues to get more precarious as Gus tightens the screws on one side while Lalo further infiltrates his Albuquerque world on the other. And not only does he have to be a double agent for Gus while not being discovered by Lalo and the Salamancas, he has to worry about his father as well. Those two storylines were easy to predict, but the wildcard is Nacho’s father who remains stubborn and will not sell his business to one of his son’s cohorts, and I imagine he would do the same thing even if he did know that his life had been threatened by Gus as a way of further coercing Nacho. Last season we learned that Nacho has a pair of fake Canadian IDs for him and his father, but at the rate things are going he may never get a chance to utilize his escape plan.

Better Call Saul (2015)

And what about poor Gene? During his once a season appearance at the beginning of season 4 he gets suspicious of the taxi driver taking him home from the hospital and asks to let out before getting to his destination. My rather complicated prediction was that the taxi driver was an operative for Ed Galbraith, the vacuum store owner/identity changer, who was sent to pick up Gene to see if his cover had been blown in such a way that it could lead back to Ed. What I figured was that as soon as Gene was entered into the hospital database, it triggered a warning to Ed who then tapped Gene’s phone, heard him call for a taxi, the Ed cancelled the taxi and sent his own guy.

Don Harvey and Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul (2015)

Boy was I wrong. Turned out he was a real taxi driver named Jeff who used to live in Albuquerque and recognized Gene as Saul from all his ads. But this scene did allow for one last appearance by Robert Forester as Ed when Gene calls him for another vanishing act (sidebar: shameless plug for my short story https://robertkirkendall.com/2015/05/10/vanishing-act/, a tale that’s also set in the Southwest desert). Gene eventually changes his mind and says he’ll handle it himself, which opens up all kinds of speculation, perhaps he’ll even send Jeff on a trip to Belize 😁. It also takes us into post Breaking Bad territory, or perhaps during because it has yet to be established whether the Gene scenes are before or after Walter White’s last hurrah at the Neo-Nazi compound.

In this time of a frightening pandemic and forced social distancing, a TV show may not be the most important thing out there, but a show of exceptional quality, even has it careens toward tragedy, can be a welcome diversion in between news reports of increasing numbers of infected people, and it can be watched from home.

Hard to believe we’re 50% through the season…that’s almost half.

Β©2020 Robert Kirkendall

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