This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 3
“The Guy For This” is a deeply melancholy episode of Better Call Saul in many ways, but it does feature one bright spot: the reintroduction of DEA Agents Hank Schrader and Steve Gomez. I’ve often bristled at Better Call Saul’s more blatant attempts at fan service. For instance, I still don’t think the prequel series has made good use of Gus Fring; nothing has happened thus far that’s deepened or changed our understanding of the character in the same way the series has done for Saul and Mike. However, Hank and Gomie’s entrance at this point in the series doesn’t feel like a bone thrown to Breaking Bad fans because their involvement in this particular plot makes a lot of narrative sense.
Regardless of whether I think it works or not, seeing Dean Norris back in the role is certainly fun, especially considering this isn’t enlightened Mineral Man Hank, but the cocky, dick-swinging version of the character. Hank and Gomie add a little bit of spark and levity to what is otherwise a bit of a crushing episode. In the grand scheme of things, this is the moment that everything changes for the worse for Jimmy McGill.
After being picked up by Nacho, Jimmy is promptly driven to Lalo. Lalo recounts Jimmy’s run-in with Tuco back in Season 1 and identifies him as the guy for the job when it comes to feeding the DEA information about Gus’ end of the operation. Jimmy deploys some of that famous sweaty energy, at first trying to price Lalo out of his services, then only somewhat reluctantly accepting $8,000 to help run a con on the feds. Everything goes according to plan when Krazy 8 and Saul cut a deal with Hank, even if Hank’s solid instincts almost derail things. When Saul goes back to report on a job well done and explain Krazy 8’s new status as an informant, he also makes his intentions clear that he wants this to be a one-time job. Lalo laughs at this sad attempt and Nacho spells things out plainly: when you’re in, you’re in. You can tell throughout the episode that Jimmy is uncomfortable with what he’s doing, but you can also see that the money helps him compartmentalize that discomfort. He’ll be doing a lot more of that from here on out.
Nacho and Kim’s storylines were somehow a little more soul crushing. Nacho receives an impromptu visit from his father at his home. Shot gorgeously in natural light, Nacho’s father informs Nacho of a deal that has been offered him to buy his shop and the land it sits on. As Nacho begins congratulating his dad and suggesting that he take the deal, his father narrows his eyes and asks if Nacho is behind the deal. Melding a gangster story with a traditional father-son generational struggle, of the son not wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps, their scene hits hard. Mr. Varga sees right through his son; he knows Nacho wants to run and he knows that Nacho wants him to run too, but Mr. Varga is too proud and will not be forced to suffer for his son’s mistakes. Between Jimmy and Chuck, Mike and the grief he has about his son, and now Nacho’s impasse with his father, Better Call Saul has largely focused on messy familial relationships and the resentment that can build between loved ones.
Meanwhile, Kim takes two professional losses and gets a harsh reality check. After losing a dismissal motion in one of her pro bono cases, she’s promptly called to Tucumcari, New Mexico on Mesa Verde business to persuade a property hold-out to vacate his home so Mesa Verde can begin building a new call center. Congenial and professional, Kim details the realities of the situation, but the old man won’t hear it. The homeowner is convinced Kim is just another rich fat cat that doesn’t care about steamrolling the little guy. At first, she plays into that perception and goes scorched earth, playing the heavy and flexing the legal muscle she has behind her.
But that doesn’t work, and when some time passes and the man’s words rattle around in her head, Kim drives back to his home, offering him relocation assistance out of her own pocket. She even details a story about her childhood that could have been a scam, but felt too genuine not to be true. We know precious little about Kim’s backstory, so every detail about Kim’s childhood is illuminating and helps explain her aversion to Jimmy’s seedier inclinations. Despite all of her good intentions, the man still doesn’t want to cave to Mesa Verde. Kim needs to accept that no matter how many pro bono cases she takes on, she’ll still be seen as a corporate lawyer shark.
It’s a tough pill for Kim to swallow, but thankfully when she comes home, Jimmy is waiting on their porch with beer. Symbolic of his life choices, Jimmy begins dropping the beer bottle from the porch, before catching it at the last possible moment. Fed up from her day, Kim resorts to just chucking the bottles off the porch. It helps her let off some steam, and it’s another reminder that Jimmy and Kim are good for each other when Jimmy isn’t letting his reckless scheming get in the way of things.
Even if the pair are feeling better in the moment, they both are being asked to accept that their professional choices are going to color how most people perceive them. Jimmy decided that $8,000 was more important than keeping his distance from the cartel, and now in the eyes of respectable lawmen like Hank, he’ll always be the scummy lawyer paid in blood money. Kim tried to retain her morals and fight for the little guy while also keeping Mesa Verde’s big business, but it looks like the latter gig is what will define her. Actions have consequences – it’s true in life and even more true on Better Call Saul.