This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 3 Episode 4
Gus Fring is officially back. Sure, this isn’t the first appearance of the coldblooded Breaking Bad fan favorite this season on Better Call Saul, but it’s the first to treat him like a main character. It’s a brilliant move; Gus has always been fascinating, partly because so much of his history and rise to power is unknown. All of the best villains are shrouded in mystery, but revealing a bit more about Gus’ business prior to meeting Walt doesn’t seem like it will ruin Gus’ allure. He’s the anti-Walt; a calm, ruthlessly efficient businessman who is able to flawlessly lie and hide in plain sight. It’s strangely captivating watching Gus behave so effectively. You’ll never see Gus spiraling with flop sweat like Mr. White.
Focusing on Gus and Hector’s war for Don Eladio’s affection is a great way to bring Giancarlo Esposito into the show’s orbit; it plays on unearthed, and frankly interesting, Breaking Bad history but also is a way to explain what brought Gus and Mike together. We know all about Gus and Don Eladio’s bloody past and where their story is heading, but it is exciting to see that Eladio and the Salamancas have their own unique history and power dynamics at play. Pitting Hector as the “cute” operation against Gus’ rolling empire is fun way to further explain Hector’ surly attitude. There are so many ways in which Hector Salamanca can go from a swaggering and defiant gangster to a weakened old man in a chair, and I look forward to seeing the role that Gus and Mike play in it. Also, it adds another layer of depth to the integral part that Hector Salamanca plays in Gus’ eventual demise. Breaking Bad fans that missed the pull of the seedy drug underworld now have reason to rejoice; a turf war looks eminent, and even though we technically know who wins, the details are an intriguing unknown.
A full thirty minutes goes by before Jimmy even gets some screentime this week, and though there isn’t much to report, it sure looks like Slippin’ Jimmy is striking back against his snake of a brother. Just as I was worried that their worlds were diverging too far, Jimmy brings Mike back into the fold. Knowing that Chuck would need to get his door fixed, Jimmy sends Mike to pose as a door repairman, getting him access inside the house to acquire some pictures and an unknown address. My guess is that the pictures of Chuck’s living conditions could be used in their meeting with the New Mexico Bar to paint Chuck as an unreliable witness and that the address belongs to Chuck’s ex-wife, someone who could testify against his character. They are low blows, but Chuck has proved that he’s willing to play dirty.
Chuck’s air of superiority makes it hard for Jimmy to even look at his brother during his pre-prosecution diversion meeting, let alone give an apology. Regardless, Mrs. Hay forces Jimmy to say that he’s sorry to Chuck, and Chuck responds by nickeling and diming his brother for the broken cassette tape, then condescending Kim when she asks a seemingly innocuous question about the upcoming bar meeting. Kim gets Chuck to admit that he made a copy of Jimmy’s incriminating tape, which could mean two things; either Kim was recording the acknowledgement that a second tape was made, proving that Jimmy was baited into destroying the decoy, or that now that Jimmy knows for sure that there is a second tape, he can go about figuring out how to steal it.
Though Jimmy’s issues are keeping Kim away from her work that truly matters, it really seems like a common enemy has brought Jimmy and Kim closer together. They share a tender moment where Jimmy seriously thanks Kim for all the assistance that she has provided so far, and Kim seems more than happy to help. They don’t have a very expressive, emotionally relationship, but we know from their parking garage past that Jimmy and Kim communicate in almost wordless way, and it makes the little acknowledgements like Jimmy’s thank you mean even more.
Better Call Saul is really playing with its Breaking Bad connections harder than ever this season and to great success. In one episode, Gus seems to take on the same level of significance as Jimmy and Mike, and though it keeps their stories from progressing a bit further than they should, his injection adds a new level of energy and danger. Jimmy and Chuck look like they’ll finally square off in front of the bar association next week, but I can’t help but wonder how Gus will clap back at Hector. Better Call Saul is still Jimmy’s story, but I don’t mind him sharing the stage.