A Saul Is Born!

Season 4 of Better Call Saul is now in the books, time to revisit predictions I made at the halfway point and to wrap things up.  As usual, my predictions went astray because so many things happened that I just didn’t see coming.  Here’s the link to my last post of predictions earlier this year:  https://robertkirkendall.com/2018/09/07/saul-halfway-through-the-season/



In my last BCS post, I made no mention of the three punks who robbed Jimmy of his burner phone money in episode 5, Quite a Ride, because I thought they would only appear in that episode to serve as a reminder to Jimmy that he’s not as street wise as he once was.  With their purpose served, I assumed they wouldn’t appear again any time soon.  That turned out to be very wrong.  Jimmy meeting up with them again at the end of episode 6, Something Stupid, drawing them into a trap, and scaring the hell out of them as they hanged upside down in a warehouse full of piñatas showed Jimmy’s resiliency, and how determined he was to get to the next level.

The relationship between Jimmy and Kim, which was fraying, appeared to come apart even more, especially in the cold opening of episode 6, which was a montage of them over the course of about six months.  It showed them starting to live separate lives, with the final image of Kim going dark and Jimmy all by himself as they lay in bed together.  I assumed the season was going to continue in this vein, leading to their eventual breakup at the end of the season.


But then things took an unexpected turn, thanks to Huell Babineaux.  Huell accidentally assaulting a policeman started a chain of events that caused Kim, at the behest of Jimmy, to step out of her comfort zone of legitimacy and go outside the law to save Huell from jail.  She was reluctant at first, but when the prosecuting attorney referred to Jimmy as a “disbarred, scumbag lawyer,” that set something off in Kim.  The fake letter writing campaign she engineered with Jimmy inundated the judge and the DA’s office and pushed them into a no jail plea deal.  The excitement of the subterfuge certainly had an effect on Kim.


Their predicted breakup won’t be going down a straight line.

Also I predicted that Mesa Verde would eventually let go of Kim because of the way she hung up on Paige and her seeming obliviousness to her job as she pursued the public defender route.  But not only is she still with Mesa Verde, she also used Jimmy’s particular set of skills once again to surreptitiously switch out the blueprints of their proposed Lubbock branch so they wouldn’t have to refile their new plans, pay another fee, and lengthen out the process.  So as of now, Kim is not only back in the good graces of Mesa Verde, she also became a partner at Schweikart & Cokely in charge of their new banking division, which will give her more time to pursue pro bono public defender work.  So long as her chicanery is never discovered, Kim will do just fine in the legitimate world.  On a side note, someone on a BCS Facebook web page pointed out that the states where Mesa Verde expanded are the same states where Gustavo Fring’s product was sold in Breaking Bad.  Probably just a coincidence.

The ghost of Chuck continued to loom over season 4, with him appearing in the two cold opening flashbacks for episodes 6 and 10, Winner.  How Jimmy was eventually going to deal with pain of the loss and the complicated relationship with his older brother was not something I was able to predict, nor did I really attempt to predict except to say that Chuck’s final painful words to Jimmy during their final conversation would haunt Jimmy, and the letter Chuck wrote to Jimmy to be given to him after his death might provide some compensation for his earlier harsh words.  This dramatic tension was further amplified when Jimmy was denied his law license by the bar association after his hearing in episode 9, Wiedersehen, largely because of his failure to mention Chuck.  Kim points this out even though Jimmy doesn’t want to hear it, and they finally have the argument that was building up throughout the season.  Jimmy finally seems to accept that he has to come to terms with the memory of Chuck, and with Kim’s help takes the steps to get his law license back.  But what happened was that Chuck’s harsh assessment of Jimmy at their last meeting and the kind words of the letter came together in a twisted union of fake sentiment and bamboozlement aimed at the bar association during his appeal, and the final transformation of Jimmy into Saul.


Have to admit, I really bought Jimmy’s speech to the bar.

The evolving business relationship of Mike and Gustavo I predicted would continue with possible conflicts happening over tactics and problems that might arise during the construction of the superlab.  Both of those happened, but not in any way I could foresee.  When we meet the German construction crew in episode 5, it appeared that Kai was going to be the problem employee.  But instead it turned out to be the head of the crew, Werner Ziegler.


Why Werner took the dangerous risk of escaping the compound to see his wife is still puzzling.  Was he that naive?  Smart people behaving stupidly is an ongoing theme in the BB/BCS universe.  His fateful decision also drove Mike to make a tough decision.  Werner and Mike bonded and became friends over the course of the superlab construction, Mike even vouched for Werner after Werner’s first transgression when he spoke too freely with the strangers they met at an Albuquerque bar, but this wasn’t enough.  And once Lalo found Werner and called him at the spa where he was at, then whatever room for bargaining he may have had was gone completely.


And reluctantly, Mike had to take of the problem himself because he knew he helped cause it.

The anticipated appearance of Lalo finally happened.  Lalo’s debut in season 4 was easy to predict because it was announced at the beginning of the season, though he wouldn’t appear until the final scene of episode 8, Coushatta.  But what he is was not hinted at at all.  Turns out he’s a completely dangerous but charming psychopath.


He will be the wildcard character whose actions throw everything into chaos, similar to Lydia and Todd in BB.  And by finding Werner, after murdering the clerk at the money store, he has figured out that Gus has a secret construction project under way, which means the rest of the Salamancas know.  This will not bode well for Gus’ future plans, and will possibly alter the uneasy peace between him and the Salamancas.


The doom I predicted for Nacho never quite materialized, but he appeared in fewer episodes during the second half of the season.  I didn’t count on all that recovery time he was going to need after being shot in the fake ambush.  He has settled into his new life in the Salamanca gang while also being extorted by Gus, while also maintaining his own private aspirations, mainly saving his father and himself, which became clear when he opened his safe and pulled out fake Canadian IDs for him and his father.  Nacho is between a rock and a hard place, with only a slender thread of hope to pull him and his father to safety.

As usual, my predictions for season 4 came up against unforeseen plot redirections, but that’s the fun of watching BCS.  You know it’s heading into BB, now four years away from that timeline, but how it gets there is full of surprises.  What’s going to happen in season 5 is a tossup with a number of moving parts and therefore hard to predict, but now that Jimmy has transformed into Saul, there should be a ramping up of action because of the  type of clients he’ll represent.  There will also be a permanent tear between him and Kim, but how that happens could happen in a number of ways.  More characters from BB will no doubt enter the BCS world.  I’m thinking Kuby, possibly Hank, which will mean Gomez as well.   Some other minor characters may appear as needed, which will further bring BCS into BB territory.

I’m also hoping there will be more Gene in season 5 than the one scene at the beginning of each season.  His four scenes so far have been a nice teaser, but after his brief hospitalization at the beginning of season 4 and his encounter with the suspicious taxi driver, it seems that the action during that timeline will increase.


I suspect that when Gene was admitted into the hospital and his name was entered into the system, this was picked up by the vacuum store owner/identity changer who may have been keeping tabs on Gene for his own safety in case his cover gets blown.  And there’s still the ongoing question of whether the Gene timeline is after the BB timeline or concurrent with Walt’s exile in New Hampshire.  I think it’s the latter because it makes more sense dramatically and will provide more tension when Walt reappears.  This would scare the hell out of Gene because he would think that Walt is going to come after him.  He may even have a nightmare of this scenario, which will bring Walt into BCS.  Wouldn’t that be something.

In the meantime, we fans will all eagerly await season 5, following all the BCS social media announcements as the season comes together from the first writer’s meeting to the final day of shooting, counting down the days until its premier with great anticipation.  Truly, is there no other way?

©2018 Robert Kirkendall


Saul: Halfway Through The Season

We’re now halfway through season 4 of Better Call Saul, so time to revisit my earlier predictions for the season and see if I’m anywhere close. Here’s the link to the original post: https://robertkirkendall.com/2018/08/06/countdown-to-saul/


The first subject I tackled was the fallout of Chuck’s death. After much speculation I concluded that Chuck’s death would ruled accidental, his ex wife Rebecca would be named executor of his will, and Chuck’s final words to Jimmy would haunt him and push him into his transformation into Saul. The first prediction turned out to be correct, but with one wrinkle. The second prediction was technically false because Howard Hamlin was the named executor, but Rebecca was the main beneficiary of Chuck’s estate with Jimmy receiving only $5,000, so the spirit of the prediction was correct. The third prediction remains to be seen, but it’s been altered by the introduction of the sealed letter that Chuck wrote to Jimmy which was only to be opened by Jimmy at the time of Chuck’s demise. Chuck’s letter to Jimmy was stilted in its language, but also heartfelt and his best attempt at being supportive of his little brother, and perhaps in some way compensates for what Chuck said earlier.


The aforementioned wrinkle about Chuck’s death being ruled accidental is Howard’s belief that Chuck actually killed himself intentionally, which ties into my speculation of Howard’s stunning confession. Turns out it did have to do with Chuck, but the body of the confession I didn’t predict at all, though it does make sense. I didn’t predict how much Chuck’s death was going to affect Howard, and that he was correct is his belief that Chuck killed himself intentionally adds to his stress. He looks frazzled by episode 5, and his admission to Jimmy that he’s been seeing a therapist twice a week convinces Jimmy that therapy isn’t right for him. Howard appears rudderless without Chuck’s presence, and it’s difficult to predict where his story line is going. In the promo for episode 6 Jimmy goes to see Howard at his office, perhaps for  a job opportunity, maybe Howard wants to replace Chuck with Jimmy, but we know there’s no mention of HHM in Breaking Bad so it seems that won’t go anywhere.


My prediction about Gustavo Fring noticing the bottle of pills that Nacho Varga gave to the paramedics after Hector Salamanca’s stroke was accurate, though an easy prediction. But what Gus did with that information surprised me at every turn. I did not predict that Nacho’s vehicle would have a tracking device, that Victor would follow him and watch him dispose of the fake pills, that Gus would have his own doctor look at Hector, get tissue samples, and figure out what Nacho did. And I definitely did not see Gus killing Arturo in an ugly way right in front of Nacho to drive home that Nacho now belongs to Gus lest the Salamancas find out what Nacho did to Hector.

The rest of my Nacho predictions about his fate at the end of the season, whether he’s killed, disappears, or if he’s able to save his father, have yet to be seen. And now that he’s been shot, all a part of Gus’ plan to make it look like he and Arturo were ambushed by a rival gang, Nacho’s fate seems more doomed since he can’t go to a real hospital to take care of his injuries. Lalo, who I also mentioned in my prediction, hasn’t appeared yet, but I’ve read elsewhere that he’ll appear later this season. There have been released pictures of Lalo with Hector, so I assume he’s from the cartel.


Though most of my predictions were somewhere in the ballpark, my predictions about Mike Ehrmantraut were mostly off course. I somehow got the idea that Mike was going to investigate Gus’s past, mainly based on a promo scene in which Mike says, “The guy’s story changes every time he tells it.” I thought he was talking about Gus, but was actually talking about another person in the grief support group that he attends with his daughter in law Stacey. Though after the way Mike called out Henry, the lying member, in front of the whole group probably means no more support group meeting for Mike. He’ll manage.

Mike’s decision to take his new job at Madrigal Automotive seriously instead staying home and collecting paychecks until his money is laundered is indicative that Mike likes to be productive and isn’t content with slothfulness. This eventually gets Gus’ attention, and he utilizes Mike to help vet potential engineers for his super lab, one of the main locations for BB. It now appears that Gus and Mike are now on the same page, but conflicts can still arise, probably over tactics and issues that’ll arise during the construction of the super lab.


The next part of my predictions was the future of Jimmy and Kim, and how they were going to come apart. So far they’re still together, but there have been some fissures. Kim’s concern over Jimmy bottling up his feelings over Chuck’s death, Jimmy only taking a job when Kim suggests therapy as well as slipping back into old, dishonest habits, and an unease in the air are starting to separate them. They’re also starting to head down different paths. Kim getting into public defense work despite the plum job at Mesa Verde shows that she wants to do work that matters. It also shows she’s in touch with her moral center whereas Jimmy is moving into another direction.

I think Kim’s job at Mesa Verde will come to an end and then she can concentrate on public defense work. Not sure if she’ll resign or if they’ll terminate her employment, but probably the former because Kim won’t let things get to a point where she’s fired. But her new foray into the world of criminal law may put her into contact with the wrong kind of people. The brusque way she dealt with her defendant David seems to indicate that she doesn’t see the potential danger that lies ahead.

And then there’s Gene Takavic, Jimmy’s third persona. I discussed his scene from episode 1 of this season in my last BCS post, from him thinking his cover might be blown because of a receptionist error to the taxi ride with the suspicious driver who has an Albuquerque Isotopes air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror. I hope there’s another Gene scene this season, one a year isn’t enough. And since BCS will end up in the Gene timeline I predict we will see more of him, just not sure when.


Getting back to Gus, something occurred to me a couple of days after watching episode 5. Earlier I speculated that Gus, being a Chilean, may have had ties to the Pinochet regime and the CIA. But after the scene in which he decides to hire the engineer Werner Ziegler and speaks to him in German, it got me to thinking how after World War II a lot of Nazis escaped to South America, and Gus is from South America…maybe there’s a connection there? That would make Gus even more insidious.


Also wanted to say I was overjoyed to finally see Saul, the first BCS scene to take place during the BB timeline. The flash forward which showed him desperately getting his most important possessions together before disappearing and ending his Saul Goodman life while Francesca shreds documents was the perfect book end to the final scene of the episode which shows Jimmy resolving to be a lawyer again. They even shot the scene on film instead of digital to make it match BB.

That’s all for now, but I’ll add updates to this post as the season progresses. I’ll predict that the pressure will turn up on everyone over the next five episodes and force them to make some tough decisions. We’ve got some rough road ahead of us.


©2018 Robert Kirkendall

Countdown To Saul

Tomorrow night on AMC is the long awaited premier of the fourth season of Better Call Saul. I was planning on making predictions for the upcoming season on this post like I did last year in the run up to season 3, but I’m having a hard time figuring out what to predict. What I have to go on is the ending of season three, the various promo commercials that have already been aired, and a couple of reveals that were leaked by Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, and some of the cast, but taken together there are so many moving parts that it’s difficult to make any kind of accurate or semi-accurate predictions. But I’ll give it a shot.



Among the clips shown in promo commercials are scenes from Chuck McGill’s funeral, so now we know for sure that he died in the fire that he started in the last episode of season 3. But there are so many questions surrounding his death that need sorting out. First, what’s in Chuck’s will? Jimmy would be the legal next of kin, but did Chuck instead leave everything to his ex wife Rebecca? Even though they’re divorced they still care for each other, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he made her the executor of his estate. Or did he die intestate? A lawyer would probably have a will made up, but we don’t know that for sure. Also, will his death be determined to be an intentional or accidental suicide? This is important if he had a life insurance policy, which normally don’t pay out in cases of intentional suicide. It’s also been revealed that Howard Hamlin makes a stunning confession at the end of episode 1, and I’m having a hard time figuring out what that could be. It may have to do with Chuck, or it may have to do with Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, or both, or neither because it has something to do with his personal life. I’m looking forward to finding out. I’m going to predict that Chuck made Rebecca his executor, that his death will be ruled an accidental suicide, and the last words he said to his younger brother will haunt Jimmy and push the transformation into Saul.


The other main story line is the merging of two worlds of Nacho Varga and Gustavo Fring. Though they are in two different camps, Nacho’s switching of Hector Salamanca’s pills is suspected by Gus after Hector’s stroke or heart attack (not sure which it is). This brings Nacho into Gus’ notice, and no doubt will cause him to take some kind of action, because as he’s already made clear, he decides when and how Hector dies.* Nacho was already skating on thin ice in season 3, especially when he switched out Hector’s glycerin pills in an effort to save his father from the cartel. From what’s been shown on the commercials and in stills like the one above it looks like the danger will continue for Nacho in season 4, but how it’ll happen seems complicated by other factors that will come into play. What happens to Nacho will depend on what Gus’ finds out, what he does with that information, how the cartel reacts, and who will succeed Hector in the hierarchy.

Another factor that will affect Nacho and Gus will be the introduction of the character of Lalo, who was mentioned in the same Breaking Bad episode that Nacho was mentioned in (episode 2/8, the one titled Better Call Saul). Lalo is probably sent by the cartel to bring order back to the chaos, but his lack of presence in BB makes him shadowy. As it appears now, Nacho will either end up dead, or he’ll go into hiding (perhaps with help from the vacuum store owner/identity changer). I read a comment on a fan page which predicted that Tuco would end up killing Nacho because eventually he’ll be released from jail to look after Hector once he’s wheelchair bound, and that will give Tuco the opportunity to kill him.

Nacho wants no part of the cartel and fears for the safety of his father, so whatever he does or whatever ultimately happens to him will have to do with those two motivations. If I had to predict, I’d have to say he ends up dead, and it will be tragic.


The storyline that ties them all together is Mike Ehrmantraut, the connector between Jimmy/Saul and the world of the criminal underground. At the end of season 3 he is working for Madrigal Automotive, part of the conglomerate that’s also partnered with Gus Fring’s Pollos Hermanos. Eventually Mike will be working directly for Gus, but in the mean time he’ll do what Mike does and investigate his new employer. No doubt this will cause tension, Gus is highly secretive of his Chilean past, but somehow the two of them will come to an understanding. How this comes about is the mystery, but I’m predicting Mike will realize he will have to give up some of his independence if he want to survive in Albuquerque, and Gus will realize that Mike is as close to a perfect employee as he’ll ever get (sorry, Lyle). And if anything is revealed about Gus’ past, I’m going to predict that he was involved in the Pinochet regime, and possibly a CIA asset.

But the biggest tragedy of season 4 will be the death of Jimmy and the birth of Saul. Not only will this be a transformation of his soul, it’ll be the end of his relationship to Kim Wexler, the only person left in the world who loves him. With his family all deceased, as well as his best friend Marco, Kim is Jimmy’s last tie to humanity, and with her out of his life there will be nothing to stop from Jimmy becoming Saul. How this comes about will be Kim unwilling to accept Jimmy’s morphing into Saul, but how this happens is the part we’ll have to see. Some think Kim will die at the end of 4, but I really hope not, she’s the heart of the show. I think Kim will survive, but it’ll be with a broken heart.


And all the roads of the BB/BCS universe lead to Gene, the hardest to predict wildcard of all. From the clip that’s been shown and a couple of pictures taken by a fan that shows Gene leaving the hospital and getting into a taxi, we know that Gene is almost discovered by a hospital administrator who needs to see his ID again but somehow he makes it out of the hospital. What happens after is open to a number of possibilities. Perhaps the process of his eventual discovery was triggered by the hospital visit, and he may have to go on the run again, or maybe he’ll stay and make a stand, or maybe he reaches out for help from someone from his previous life. But which previous life, Jimmy or Saul? One of the main themes of BCS is identity crisis, and in the end, the identity he chooses to pursue will be the biggest decision he’ll ever make.

But as I keep saying even though some disagree, I think the Gene sequences are simultaneous to Walt’s exile in New Hampshire in the final episodes of BB, and not after as most others claim. This is the scenario that makes the most sense. Once Walt is dead the case is closed. The DEA may just assume that Walt killed Saul before he went into hiding to get rid of a loose end, they did disappear at the same time, and the DEA may downgrade the search for Saul to a low priority. No one will miss a crooked lawyer, no one will look for Saul, and after a number of years he may even be declared legally dead. All of this will give Gene a certain amount of freedom that he wouldn’t have during the manhunt to Walt.

Most or all my predictions my end up wrong, but it’s unpredictability that makes BCS compelling. What started out as an idea for a half hour sitcom has become a prequel that matches its predecessor in quality, is growing to the same intensity, and is one of the most original shows on television. I eagerly look forward to the premier of season 4, and after I see the first episode I’ll be able to refine my predictions. What I do know for sure is that the cast, crew, and creative team of BCS are among the best in the business.

I like to think I see things in people.



*And lucky for Gus, he’ll be there when it happens. 😀


UPDATE: So now that I’ve seen episode 1 I have learned about Howard’s big reveal. I wasn’t sure what it would be, but it does make sense that Howard would feel guilt over forcing Chuck to retire because of his increased insurance rates. And Howard’s suspicion that Chuck may have actually killed himself on purpose proves my supposition that the fire was determined to be accidental. Howard’s confession also seemed to absolve Jimmy of his responsibility, at least in his mind, so now he can become Saul.

And who was that mysterious taxi driver in the opening Gene sequence? Apparently he has a connection to Albuquerque, maybe he was one of Saul’s old clients? I have a feeling things are about to blow up in Omaha.

UPDATE: The mystery of the possible connection between Gus and Nacho was answered in a big way at the very end of episode 2. The end of the episode also explained why it was titled Breathe, a cruelly ironic title it turned out. And how about Kim tearing Howard a new one for messing with Jimmy with his confession. The claws came out!

UPDATE: Poor, poor Nacho, no turning back now. But at least we got to see the shady veterinarian again, working his illicit surgical magic on Nacho’s counterfeit bullet wounds. I wonder what the value of Arturo’s Oldsmobile 442 was before it was destroyed? Those old muscle cars are worth bank. As for Chuck’s final letter to Jimmy, a lot of people have suggested that Kim actually wrote it, but that makes no sense at all. That goes against Kim’s character, and the letter sounds like it was written before Chuck and Jimmy’s relationship worsened. I finally made a prediction that came true! But admittedly, I did see Ira in the IMDb in the credits, but I remember from BB that his specialty was burglary so it made sense that he was the one breaking into the Neff office, which they showed in the promos. Looking forward to episode 4.

©2018 Robert Kirkendall