Recap: Better Call Saul Season 6 Is Here — Along With the Countdown to Kim’s Doom?
Hi there! If you’re reading this, it’s because you’re embarking on the sixth season of Better Call Saul and the eleventh season of gritty, prestigey television situated in Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad universe. What started out way back in 2015 as a slower-paced, almost ingenious successor to Walter White’s mercilessly propulsive saga has now torqued up considerably, and last season left viewers pondering a few disturbing questions. Among them: (1) How is Gus Fring going to get away with trying and failing to kill Lalo Salamanca? (2) How screwed, on a scale from “very” to “abso-fucking-tively,” is Nacho for his role in the botched hit? (3) Are Kim and Jimmy / Saul really going to carry out some kind of scheme to ruin Howard’s life? And, most alarming of all, (4) just what twist of fate exactly is going to separate the now-married Kim and Jimmy / Saul as we barrel toward a collision with the Breaking Bad timeline?
Instead of reuniting us with stressed-out Cinnabon shift-worker Gene Takovic, Jimmy / Saul’s post-Breaking Bad alter ego, the cold open offers a panoramic vision of Saul Goodman’s splendiferously gauche future residence as it is cleaned out by what appears to be law -enforcement officials. Tossing a life-size cutout of Saul and his finger guns into a dumpster may not be the subtlest act of foreshadowing I’ve seen, but it’s a good reminder that the identity our old pal Jimmy McGill is busy constructing is destined for destruction.
Then, at the very end of the sequence, something falls out of the truck they’re loading and lands in the gutter. The camera pans in, signaling that this little gilded doodad, whatever it is, is important. Is it…? Could it be…? Just being honest with you, I had no idea what it was, but a friendly fellow recapper tipped me off that it’s the top of the fancy tequila bottle that Jimmy and Kim used in their first grift! Which brings us back to that burning question: What’s gonna happen to Kim ?? !!
From there, we are thrust into the extreme plight of Ignacio “Nacho” Varga, the Salamanca lieutenant who has been secretly working for Gus in an attempt to save his father’s life. Last season ended with Lalo Salamanca going full berserker and neutralizing a paramilitary assassination squad before realizing that Nacho must have betrayed him. Now, everyone thinks Lalo is dead — and everyone wants to find Nacho.
Of course, the supernaturally competent Mike Ehrmantraut has his phone number and a plan: Nacho can cool his heels at a grim but spacious no-tell motel while they figure out how to extract him. The problem for both of them is that Gus is a hell of a lot more interested in protecting his own interests than he is in rescuing Nacho. As Juan Bolsa explains to Gus, “Ignacio is a rat. Every man we have is searching for him. ” Mike wants to scoop Nacho up and set his father free, now that he’s done his duty. “Loyalty goes both ways,” he insists. But Gus is not giving up that crucial piece of collateral, especially because he’s not sold on the idea that Lalo is dead. (And as we know, Lalo isn’t. In fact, he extended his one-man-death-squad tour of Mexico for a few more days until he can find hard proof that Gus was behind the attempt on his life.)
Instead of rescuing Nacho, Gus sends Mike to execute one of those preposterously overcomplicated ruses that are a hallmark of this cinematic universe. First he pays off the methed-out girls living in Nacho’s apartment, then he cracks the safe and empties its contents, then he * orders an exact replica of the safe and has it installed— * all so he can plant a letter giving away Nacho’s location at the motel to whoever else has the brilliant idea to crack his safe.
That person turns out to be Juan Bolsa, who, with Gus’s cooperation, is pulling out all the stops to help the Salamancas figure out who “killed” Lalo. This explains how, in Episode 2, the scary Salamanca twins with the turned-up steel toes manage to locate Nacho.
But Nacho is proving to be something of a superhuman figure in his own right. First, a dripping AC tips him off that someone is watching him from the boarded-up shack across the parking lot. Then his ploy of phoning Tire establishes that the Los Pollos Hermanos organization no longer has his best interests at heart. Then he hot-wires that pickup with a crow bar and somehow beats it out of the walled-in parking lot with the Salamanca murder twins firing at his tires. Maybe ol ‘Nacho will make it after all!
Of all the burning questions I listed up top, only one gets an answer in these two episodes. Are Kim and Jimmy / Saul going after Howard? Oh, hell yes. Kim, in particular, really seems charged up about making Howard pay for his supposedly shabby treatment of Jimmy. Now that she has left corporate law and dedicated herself to pro-bono work, she is positively thrumming with righteous indignation at all the bigshots who screw over the little guy or whatever. Jimmy / Saul, for his part, is always down for a long con, but now that he’s found his groove as an amoral cartel attorney, he seems to be going along with her mainly because he likes Kim and he likes messing with people. Kim, though, is developing a real taste for punishing them.
We can not hear Kim’s master plan when she describes it to Jimmy / Saul over dinner at the El Camino dining room, so we have to piece it together as they workshop and execute each step along the way. Step 1 involves, for some reason, getting Jimmy’s old boss Clifford Main to suspect that Howard is a cokehead. Sneaking down to the country club locker room obviously would have been way too easy / boring / non-punitive, so instead we get treated to a five-act operetta in which Saul Goodman applies for a membership and begins a tour only to be spotted— and angrily nixed — by Kim’s old boss Kevin Wachtel. When the membership director suddenly starts making unconvincing excuses, Jimmy / Saul swings into action: “It’s wall-to-wall mayonnaise in here! Anti-Semitism right here, alive and well in Albequerque! ” The gambit works — never mind that Wachtel is right that the erstwhile Jimmy McGill is “about as Jewish as my Aunt Fanny” —and Jimmy / Saul extracts permission to use the men’s room in exchange for agreeing not to sue.
More trickery ensues, as he first determines the location of Howard’s locker, then has to speedily strip down to avoid detection in one of the more hysterical male nude scenes in a TV season overflowing with them. Despite all the close shaves (ick, sorry), he manages to plant a tiny baggie of white powder in Howard’s locker in such a way that Cliff can not help noticing, then races back to the car in time to observe their exit. “Maybe this was all too subtle,” Kim frets. But Jimmy / Saul clocks the look on Cliff’s face and knows better: “Nope, not too subtle. Perfect. ” I still have no idea why they want Cliff to think Howard is nose deep in the devil’s dandruff, but they’ve certainly planted the seed.