This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 5
Kim Wexler is playing with fire. We know that a mixture of her upbringing and having a strict moral code won’t allow her to sit idly by as a corporation steamrolls a man and his home, and that’s before considering that she finds herself actively working on behalf of the steamroller. It’s easy to see why Kim would try to do what she can to help Mr. Acker in his fight against Mesa Verde, but like Jimmy tells her late in the episode, there’s only so much that she can do. She’s compromising her status with a client, her job working for Schweikart & Cokely, and possibly even her license to practice law by actively working against the interest of one of her clients. Her impulse to help is understandable, but her impulse to self-sabotage is harder to parse.
Even after fooling Kevin and Paige, Rich Schweikart knows there’s something fishy going on, and there certainly is; Kim purposely got Jimmy into the mix so he could work his magic, and he pulls out all of the stops with glee. Whether planting broken china and invoking the New Mexico Cultural Properties Act, faking some radiation issues, or going full charlatan with a bogus Jesus depiction, Jimmy is in his element and having the time of his life. Schweikart knows it’s too coincidental that Saul Goodman is representing Mr. Acker, but when he benevolently tries to pull Kim from Mesa Verde business until the whole thing is sorted out, side stepping the elephant in the room and foregoing any reprimands or penalties, Kim doubles down. She acts righteous and indignant toward Rich, steadfastly denying any wrongdoing. It’s a lose-lose lie for Kim because this whole thing will either blow up in her face harder, or the lying will make her feel even worse about what she’s doing.
We know the whole grift is starting to feel all too much, but she started Jimmy up and now she can’t stop. Kim even plays along when he gets so gleefully involved in the scheme that he begs Kim to playact as Kevin. She has to sit by in horror when the P.I. that Jimmy hires in Mike’s place reveals that he broke into Kevin’s home for info and suggests that they have Kevin kidnapped, taken out into the desert and roughed up. However, the P.I. does inadvertently supply Kim with some info regarding the Mesa Verde logo and a possible copyright issue, but this whole thing has spiraled a bit out of control, and when Schweikart offered her an easy out, she foolishly got herself in deeper.
While the Mesa Verde situation takes up most of the episode, “Dedicado a Max” gets its title from something found in Mike’s storyline that’s taking place south of the border. After awaking last week following his near-fatal run in with a street gang, Mike is angry and trying to determine why Gus brought him to Mexico to heal. Breaking Bad fans will recognize Gus’ private doctor, Dr. Goodman, as he tries to reason with Mike to stay, enjoy the wonderful cooking and care that’s being provided for him, and rest up. Still, Mike can’t relax knowing that he’s here on the dime of a drug kingpin and likely for a reason.
Mike’s action this week gives off strong Western vibes, as if a threat is going to wander into town at any moment to threaten the frolicking school children, and the grizzled old tough guy with the sketchy past will have to step up and protect the innocents. The only man in black that comes into town is Gus, the silent benefactor for the whole town. Mike tries to make it clear that he doesn’t care about the good things that Gus has done in this town or if he considers himself to be the lesser of two evils in his war against the Salamancas. But standing next to the fountain dedicated to his former partner, and possible lover, Gus reveals why exactly he wants Mike as a soldier standing on his side: he believes that Mike understands revenge and the need for it. It’s a business proposal that won’t ease Mike’s conscious, but obviously it speaks to his tortured past. This is the second week in a row that Better Call Saul has shown a somewhat vulnerable side to Gus that we haven’t quite seen, and I hope the show continues to explore some of the character’s more human qualities.
“Dedicado a Max” could be considered a slower episode or somewhat of a throat clearer, but it does an excellent job reminding us exactly how much Kim is risking by trying to help Mr. Acker, while showing us the crucial moment that Gus finally gained Mike’s allegiance. It also features more Jimmy cons than the other episodes of this season combined, so it’s not all vegetables. Next week’s episode is titled “Wexler v. Goodman,” so we could either be seeing the Mesa Verde case go to trial, or perhaps Kim will realize she let Saul Goodman too far off of his leash and now she’s trying to rein him in before he comes back to bite her. Kim has a lot to lose and she doesn’t have another persona to fall back on.