Better Call Saul Season 4 Episode 3: Gale is Back, Baby

 
 PHOTO: COURTESY AMC

PHOTO: COURTESY AMC

 

Get caught up and read each of our Better Call Saul episode recaps.

We knew that at some point along the timeline between Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad that we would probably see Gale Boetticher, especially since we’re following Gus Fring’s life before the events of Breaking Bad very closely.

In Breaking Bad, the high-level, underground meth lab had already been built and set up by Gale by the time Walter White got to it but nothing else about their lives, their relationship or how Gale came to be involved in such a shady business is established.

In last night’s episode, Gus started walking through a school and it wasn’t hard to anticipate that someone we’re already familiar with would make an appearance. Gale was doing what Gale does best, working hard at his passion, Chemistry while singing a dorky chemistry song. Just the way we love him. Note the colors in this scene: Yellow in the background, red and blue in foreground and some green (money) in-between them.

But that goofiness is temporary. We soon find out Gus asked Gale to test some meth samples. Always the perfectionist, Gale says the samples aren’t even good at 67 percent purity (Walter White and Jesse Pinkman reach 99.1 percent and Gale reaches 96 percent). He also mentions the contamination in the samples, something Walt was always concerned about, especially in the episode The Fly. But then he says he can make a better product and asks Gus to let him try. Surprisingly, Gus turns Gale down and tells him he’s meant for better things. How very caring of you, Gus.

One thing Better Call Saul does as a prequel is to highlight the idea that “hindsight is 20/20.” We know Gus changes his mind and Gale gets so deeply involved that he ends up dead for reasons that were all a part of a power play and nothing to do with anything he did, except for being really good at his job.

What else happened this episode?


Cowboy imagery

What’s it all mean? Kim gazes up at a metal cowboy structure at Mesa Verde. Later in Jimmy and Kim’s apartment, there’s a poster on the wall that says “Cowboy Justice.” Then, when Don tells Gus the Salamancas have been hit, there’s a cowboy on a horse standing behind Don.

Is this foreshadowing the arrival of Walter White? Is it emphasizing there are no rules and this is new territory for everyone and their storylines?


Kim is a rising heroine

 
 PHOTO: COURTESY AMC

PHOTO: COURTESY AMC

 

Or anti-heroine? We’re not sure yet. But she has been through a lot and might be the strongest character in the whole show by sheer determination with her empathy and heart intact. Still dressed in blue and surrounded by blue as she looked at the models for the new banks that will be built because of her work, she could only manage to call it “aggressive.” Kim seems to be torn about many things, whether it’s how Chuck’s death is affecting Jimmy or the amount of work she has for Mesa Verde. Seeing her in tears at the end of the episode felt heartbreaking and the beginning of the end.


Mike knows stealing a trinket is a bad idea

Listen, if Mike says “It’s not for me. I don’t think it should be for you, either” you should probably heed his advice. But for some reason, Jimmy is set on stealing a Bavarian figurine to make some easy cash, and probably to get a thrill from it. It wasn’t that long ago he was known as Slippin’ Jimmy. And when we see him move forward with the plan anyway and “jimmy” open a car door, we’re reminded of his criminal tendencies and altered moral compass. Sort of like an addict who has tried to stay sober but occasionally relapses. How deep will this relapse go? All the way to Saul?

Fun fact: the guy Jimmy convinces to steal the figurine ends up as the owner of Vamonos Pest in Breaking Bad, the business Walt, Jesse and Mike use to run their meth business. Probably because Saul knows a guy, who knows a guy.


That opening, though

 
 PHOTO: COURTESY AMC/NICOLE WILDER/SONY PICTURES

PHOTO: COURTESY AMC/NICOLE WILDER/SONY PICTURES

 

Lying is a central part of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, whether it’s Walt’s elaborate lies to his family or Jimmy’s lies as he becomes a “criminal” lawyer, everything is covered up and worked around.

The opening of this episode was a master class in cover-up, as Victor and Tyrus make Arturo’s death look like a hit on the Salamanca’s. There’s barely any dialogue, just tense shots of spikes laid across the road and gunshots ripping into the car. Unfortunately, the story also involves Nacho being shot to make it look realistic. The New Mexico backdrop and the cinematography give the scene intrigue and the constant atmosphere of violence so that when there is actual violence, it feels like it’s been a long slow build.


Will Nacho die of his wounds?

The Salamanca twins take Nacho to the shady veterinarian that Saul goes to when he needs to find people like the figurine-stealer. He tells Nacho that his bowel might have been perforated but he’s not sure and that he should see a regular doctor with imaging equipment. He says that if it has been perforated, he will get the worst infection he’s ever had and he could die. Is this how he will die or is this a misdirection by the writers?


The one moment of levity

This was another dark episode. Saul Goodman was always the comedian, cracking non-stop jokes in Breaking Bad. As the show got darker, there wasn’t as much to laugh about. But this is already pretty damn dark. The one moment of levity was when the guy Jimmy convinced to steal the Bavarian figurine ended up stuck in the office since the owner was sleeping there after a fight with his wife (about a vacuum cleaner?). The robber is exasperated by the owner ordering takeout and listening to self-help tapes (including one about importance versus urgency - if only Jimmy could think that one through).