The opening scene on Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 3, "The Guy for this" depicted the most triumphant moment in the history of the Breaking Bad universe.
Can you imagine happening upon a giant ice cream cone like that? Amazing.
I mean, I’m not the biggest fan of ice cream, but I imagine for ice cream lovers that would be amazing.
As the ant discovered the ice cream cone Saul left behind on the sidewalk on Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 2, “50% Off”, it made its way to the tip of the cone.
Like scaling a mountain, with swelling music that brought the moment home, the significance of the moment was not lost.
And neither was the metaphor.
Can you imagine happening upon a lawyer like Saul Goodman?
I mean, I’m not the biggest fan of illegal activity, but I imagine for criminals, that would be amazing.
Just like the ants, they will devour him. Saul will be overtaken by all of the criminal clients flocking to him.
Lalo: You’re the guy for this.
Saul: That’s just…that’s terrific. That’s the only word for it.
There are still sparks of Jimmy floating around; he tried to get out of working with Lalo both before and after the job was done.
But the two sides are definitely starting to mix more, which was most evident with Jimmy/Saul’s explanation that his rates have gone up.
From Jimmy’s side, it’s possible that he’s attempting to get out of working with Lalo one more time. Maybe if the price is too high, Lalo will find a cheaper lawyer.
From Saul’s side, this is an opportunity. If Lalo agrees, it will be Saul’s biggest payday ever.
This slow dissolve into Saul is excellent. Honestly, I’m not even sure the price hike is even a diversion tactic. It may just be full Saul.
The fact that I can perceive that moment in so many different ways is awesome, though, because the writing is truly starting to blend the personalities together and make them indistinguishable.
The rest of Jimmy’s/Saul’s plotline during the hour was fairly straightforward. He followed Lalo’s instructions and set the plan in motion.
Saul had to make a few course corrections to get the DEA to play along, but otherwise we are solely witnessing Saul Goodman’s first true foray into the world of “criminal” law.
Saul isn’t quite full of the confidence he needs to navigate effectively through this world, and despite knowing that Saul must succeed due to our knowledge of the future, there is ample tension provided because we know that Saul is uncomfortable.
After the job is completed, he once again attempted to break from Lalo and the rest of this world. He failed.
Failure is a common, prevailing theme as Nacho and Kim face their own failures as well.
Nacho’s failure comes in the form of failing to get his father out of town. He set up an attempt to have someone buy out his father’s shop, but his father didn't bite.
Instead, Manuel approached Nacho and told him exactly how he felt about the situation.
Give this up. Go to the police. Face what you've done. If you want to run, run.Manuel Varga
He told Nacho to fess up and made it clear that he won’t run away, unaware that Nacho doesn’t have these options.
Saul’s situation with Lalo and Krazy-8 perfectly coincided with Manuel’s outburst on Nacho because we see why Nacho can’t escape his life so easily.
Krazy-8 immediately told Saul that he hadn’t spoken at all over his two days in custody because he feared someone thinks he would talk. So if someone thinks that Krazy-8 is a liability, even after going to jail — dead.
Saul specifically required the DEA to make sure Krazy-8 is never seen as a rat once he gives up the information because if he is seen as a rat — dead.
There is no way Nacho can go to the police like his father suggested and live to tell the tale, and Krazy-8’s scenes explain why without ever getting explicit. This is good writing.
Kim also failed, as she attempted to help a man move out of his family home.
Kim’s journey with Mr. Acker was brief but very complete. She went from polite and professional to stern and harsh to sympathetic and kind to completely rejected and frustrated.
Kim, unlike Jimmy, doesn’t often take someone challenging her character sitting down.
Jimmy’s experience with Chuck dismissing him as “Slippin' Jimmy” has been internalized, and he tends to project Chuck’s opinion on him through everyone else, as evidenced by the end of Better Call Saul Season 4 Episode 9, “Wiedersehen.”
Kim, on the other hand, fights back against such proclamations.
When Mr. Acker ranted about how Kim is just like all the other lawyers, she lost her cool and threw it back at him, which from his perspective only proved him right.
He doesn’t know her, and by showing us her pro bono cases earlier in this episode and letting us watch the soul drain from her face as she was called into action for Mesa Verde, we also got to feel the sting of this unfair judgment by Mr. Acker.
That makes Kim’s gesture of goodwill towards Mr. Acker particularly effective. It is another chance for her to do good.
But Mr. Acker only saw Kim as a snooty lawyer and believes that’s all she ever will be.
Kim hasn’t had an easy life, and we got to hear more about her childhood. Kim’s a good person who has worked hard to make something of herself.
She wants others to have the same opportunity, and part of that opportunity is being seen with fresh eyes by others.
I’m sure this isn’t the first time in Kim’s life that she’s been judged preemptively, but this is the most direct parallel we’ve seen on Better Call Saul to Jimmy and his troubles with being judged.
There is a deep level of understanding between them at the end, during their wonderful, wordless bottle-smashing relief session.
That scene is another reminder of how close Jimmy and Kim are, and at this point, it almost seems cruel to keep reminding us how well they work with each other since we know the end is nigh.
Kim can only be a lawyer to Mr. Acker because that’s all he’ll allow her to be, and Jimmy can only be Saul Goodman to Lalo because that’s what Lalo sees. The only character that seems to break out of their perceived mold is Mike.
Some thugs made the mistake of thinking he’s just an old man, and one guy got his arm broken for it.
Good for Mike for being able to break the pattern, but ouch.
Mike’s anger was visible on his face during the entirety of his short story.
He’s clearly dealing with some pent up guilt. The problem with Mike is that he’s the one judging himself.
That perception is likely what will motivate Mike to continue working with Gus. He’s no better than these other criminals, so why not join?
This episode does an amazing job laying out the motivations of every character on screen, and it only promises good things to come.
I recently criticized Tuco’s use in the earliest episodes of the series, but this episode goes a long way to making that small arc mean something.
Lalo knows Tuco very well, and can’t believe that someone talked Tuco out of murdering those two scoundrels at the start of the series.
That’s all Lalo needed to know about Saul to believe that he’s the guy, and it's a wonderful motivation for Lalo to want to work only with Saul.
Nacho provided Gus’ motivation to play along with Lalo’s plan, because if Lalo’s plan doesn't work, Lalo will know someone snitched, which Gus can’t have.
Jimmy was initially motivated by wanting to keep his head on his shoulders, but Nacho also may have given Jimmy the only motivation he needs to go full Saul.
It's not about what you want. When you're in, you're in.Nacho
If Jimmy can’t escape, that’s the perfect excuse to go all in.
Lastly, of course, I have to mention Hank and Gomez.
The initial reveal of Hank felt a little too “prequel” for me, with its government license plate and the clever framing of his face.
I have been turned off of the Breaking Bad connections a bit since Better Call Saul Season 4 with the lab storyline, but so far, Hank and Gomez are succeeding.
Their initial banter might be seen as a callback to some, but it also provided a quick look into their personalities and partnership, which is valuable if they will be important characters moving forward.
They also provide antagonists for Saul and Nacho, and better yet, antagonists with motivation (once again).
Hank doesn’t just want something to come out of Krazy-8’s information, he wants arrests. He is a guy who goes for the big fish.
That’s more dangerous than just an average DEA agent.
Of course, Breaking Bad viewers know that, but as a character on Better Call Saul, Hank is now officially established in the series and not just there to represent Breaking Bad (like Gale is in Better Call Saul Season 4).
Unlike the lab in Better Call Saul Season 4, Hank and Gomez are directly intertwined with our lead storylines in a way that is specific. It matters that these two DEA agents are on the case, not just that DEA agents are on the case.
That makes me incredibly excited for the rest of the season because we get the best of both worlds -- the fun of seeing Hank again and the quality of a well-defined character on Better Call Saul.
What did everyone else think of Hank’s appearance?
Let us know, and don't forget you can watch Better Call Saul online right here via TV Fanatic!
Tommy Czerpak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.