AMC’s Better Call Saul
5×05: “Dedicado a Max”
Directed by Jim McKay
Written by Heather Marion
* For a recap & review of 5×04, “Namaste” – click here
* For a recap & review of 5×06, “Wexler v. Goodman” – click here
After Mike wakes up in Mexico he’s left to figure out where he is exactly. He isn’t thrilled about being whisked off across the border while unconscious. He wants to know whether Gus did this, and instead of lying down any longer to recuperate Mike throws on a jacket to begin walking his way presumably back towards America. He’s not even particularly close to a highway with another four kilometres to walk with a fresh stab wound patched up in his gut. He stops for a rest, noting his dead cell, and soon someone stops— it’s the doctor we’ve previously seen on Breaking Bad, who later fixes up Fring and Mike after their Mexican massacre.
Back in America, Saul is out at the construction site for Mesa Verde’s new Tucumcari call centre. He’s got the workers stopped and he’s currently dealing with police who’ve brought a court order from a judge to remove Everett Acker from his property. Except that may not happen just yet. Jimmy’s used his greasy Saul tactics to have the mailing address switched up, prolonging the process. A few “missing house numbers” is enough to drag this out for Mr. Goodman another day.
Meanwhile, Kim’s trying to recuse herself from everything in Tucumcari. But Kevin from Mesa Verde, bypassing what’s actually happened, thinks that Acker purposely sought out Jimmy because of the altercation with Kim, in an effort to bounce her from the whole mess. This digs Kevin in further, determined to have “the best in the business” in his corner. So, Kim’s left with few options.
After Mike is patched up by Dr. Goodman, he gets advice: don’t try to walk home, idiot!
He finds himself wondering about the scope of Gus’s outfit, from his base of operations in America at Los Pollos Hermanos, to the obvious locations he has, like this little village, in Mexico where people are sent to hideout and get medical treatment. It’s not like Mike didn’t know Gus was big time, he’d been overseeing security for the construction of that lab. But here he’s witnessing the massive sprawl of Fring’s empire up close and personal, including the happy school children in that little village, as well as the beautiful water fountain there with a plaque on it commemorating the love of Gus’s life, Max.
We see Howard give Jimmy call, asking if he’s considered the job offer. However, Saul is at work right now, no time for Jimmy business, and he hangs up after not too long. He’s busy in the kitchen doing who knows what. Then Kim gets home and they have to discuss things with Acker v. Mesa Verde. She doesn’t get into the fact she’ll be facing Jimmy when it comes down to the wire. Instead she does a hilarious impression of Kevin before Jimmy invites her for a shower.
Mike uses his intelligence and elbow grease to get his phone working again. He makes a call to Fring. He wants an answer: “Why am I here?” He only gets hung up on, though. Already a couple different hangups in this episode. It’s funny when Jimmy does it to Howard. It’s more threatening when Gus does does it to Mike. They later meet when Fring arrives in Mexico. He tells Mike the recent out of control behaviour must come to an end. He needs “a soldier” for his drug war. He’s confiding in Mike about his need for revenge against the Salamancas and the cartel.
Great sequence here, set to “Blackbird Special” by Stanton Moore. Jimmy’s using every last tool in his bag of tricks to set Mesa Verde’s planned construction back further and further. He has an archaeology team digging for artefacts, he digs up document after document to keep Kim and the Mesa Verde team busy. He sues “on behalf of the Water District,” he finds supposed flaws in the “original land grant from 1846,” he goes so far to claim the main contractor is an “escaped felon.” He also works to irradiate a patch of soil right outside Acker’s gate, pushing construction back again, as well as creates a stain with spray paint to look like an image of Christ on the property.
Just as planned, this causes Mesa Verde trouble. That’s until Kim and Schweikart suggest they choose the other lot available to them. This doesn’t sit well with a “good ole boy” like Kevin. He refuses to move the project and he even more staunchly refuses to lose.
Unfortunately Kim’s left feeling like her back is against the wall. And what does she do when she feels that way? She confides in Jimmy, and Saul Goodman comes out to play. They’re going for the “oppo research” approach. First, he calls up Mike, but the old guy is in Mexico trying to take it one day at a time. Next they meet with a man called Sobchak (Steven Ogg) via what Kim calls a kind of “underground Craigslist.” They meet at the nail salon/law office. Sobchak sits down with Jimmy and Kim to hear about the research on Kevin. Seems there’s nothing but an “Eagle scout with a six–figure income.” Only one arrest 34 years ago for a DUI in college. Things get very morally questionable for Kim when Sobchak talks about breaking into Kev’s house to look around. She does find something of interesting in the man’s photos— something they can potentially use.
At work, Kim has a chat with Schweikart. He thinks she needs to “take a break” from the Mesa Verde project. He wants to take the lead because of the personal involvement. Kim doesn’t take it well and keeps pushing for answers while Schweikart is vague. He explains his unease because she went from being forced into the Tucumcari situation to what now seems like she’s deeply interested. He thinks there’s likely something fishy going on, and, well, as much as I love Ms. Wexler, he’s right. Kim’s offended, despite Schweikart being right on the money. She gets angry, and so her boss decides to let her sink or swim.
How long before Kim accepts Jimmy’s dragging her down morally and professionally?
Great episode. Love to see the conflict between Gus and Mike, especially because we know how dutifully the latter serves his employer later in Breaking Bad. Also the continuing moral dilemma of Kim re: Jimmy/Saul is amazing, like always.
“Wexler v. Goodman” is next. The title alone is full of tension!