Better Call Saul recap: D-Days and getaways

·7 min read
Better Call Saul recap: D-Days and getaways

Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) doesn't talk much about her childhood. It's not hard to understand why: The few glimpses we've ever seen of it on the show indicate that it wasn't a happy time, that her mother was the type of parent who makes a kid want to grow up as fast as possible just to get away. But knowing what we do about Kim, and also about how the patterns we form as children tend to follow us into our adult lives, the arc of her character and her relationship with Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) have always raised a question: Did Kim marry her mother?

Or did she become her?

The answer is… it's complicated. As this week's episode opens, we see Kim once again as a young teenager. At first, it seems like she's in the most ordinary sort of trouble: caught shoplifting by a store manager who's threatening to call the police. But there's something weird about the whole situation, and especially about Kim's mom, who is seriously chewing the scenery in her role as the Disappointed Parent. And the harder she chastises Kim, the more the manager softens, until he lets her go with nothing more than a promise not to do it again.

Moments later, in the car, Kim's mom cackles — "See? Your mom's good for something" — and hands her a present: the earrings and necklace that Kim was trying to steal. Kim stares at the jewelry, and her mom laughs again.

"Kiddo, relax," she says. "You got away with it."

And it's funny, because this isn't the first time we've seen someone say this to Kim — or seen this expression on her face. The look of a woman who's gotten what she wants, yet isn't so sure that she wants it.

Better Call Saul
Better Call Saul

Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) sits alongside her client (Christopher Kelly) on 'Better Call Saul.'

Then the title credits roll, and we're back in early 2000s Albuquerque. Specifically, we're inside Howard Hamlin's (Patrick Fabian) closet, where HHM's hotshot lawyer is trying to decide what to wear. (Yes, yes, a blue shirt with a white collar: but which one?!) As always, Howard's meticulousness is striking. His closet is uncrowded and perfectly organized. His shoes are buffed just so. He makes a latte, clearly enjoying the process — tamping the grind, heating the milk, wiping down the gleaming machine — and finishes it off with a flourish: a peace sign made of milk.

Howard's wife appears from wherever she's been sleeping (namely: not with him), and Howard points to the cup: "That's for you."

And the wife, in what is no doubt a microcosm for their entire relationship, gives him a tepid "thanks" and dumps the whole thing into her travel mug without so much as a word about Howard's latte art.

This scene gives us a peek into Howard's lonely private life, but also into his mindset vis-a-vis Jimmy: He tells his wife she may "see or hear something," but he's handling it. And indeed, he's very confident! When his private detective runs down Jimmy's activities during the past week, he notes just one deviation from the norm: a visit to a bank where he withdrew what looks like $20,000. In cash. Hardly walking-around money… unless you're involved in something shady, of course, and that's when Howard Hamlin's eyes start to twinkle.

Enjoy it while it lasts, Howard! Because Jimmy and Kim have initiated the final stage of their plan, a countdown to the big finale known as "D-Day." The details are still murky, but we're starting to see hints of the shenanigans to come: a photo shoot with an actor dressed to look like the Sandpiper judge Casamiro, and a late-night visit with Dr. Caldera (Joe DeRosa), where Jimmy takes some sort of mystery substance that won't show up on a blood test and that causes his pupils to dilate to the size of dinner plates. While they wait for it to take effect, Caldera informs them that he's leaving town and giving up his life as a fixer. (Side note: There's a big Easter egg in this scene, as Jimmy examines the vet's little black book of contacts and notices a card for the vacuum cleaner repair shop!)

Jimmy is in disbelief — Caldera is clearly making big money from his criminal side hustle — but Kim, looking at a wall of photos of the vet's grateful patients, says she gets it: "He knows what he wants."

Better Call Saul
Better Call Saul

Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman on 'Better Call Saul'

What Caldera knows is what Kim is only just starting to realize: that a life defined by what you can get away with is not necessarily a happy one, that what you can get away with may in fact exist in direct conflict with what you want.

But let's hold that thought. Because speaking of people getting away with things, Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) is still out there in search of information about Gus Fring's (Giancarlo Esposito) operation, and today, he finds his man. Kai, the demolition engineer who was last seen calling Werner Ziegler "soft" (and getting justly punched in the face as a result), is chopping wood in a remote forest when he sees Lalo appear between the trees — and guys, you know that theatrical law from Chekhov that says if a gun is shown in the first act, it has to be fired by the third? Well, let's just say that if an ax is shown in the same scene of Lalo Salamanca, someone's body parts will be chopped off within the next 60 seconds. Sorry, them's the rules. By the time this scene ends, Kai has half the usual number of feet and is no doubt telling Lalo everything he wants to know.

That's it for Lalo... for now. The rest of this episode belongs to Kim, the woman who has it all: a happy marriage with the love of her life, the thrill of professionally sabotaging someone who richly deserves to go down, and a fabulous career getting justice for the little guy, thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity from Cliff Main. Even the minor catch — that her presentation for that last project is happening in Santa Fe on the same day that the Howard plan goes off — seems like it might be a good thing. After all, as Jimmy points out, she doesn't have to be there. ("Was Eisenhower on Omaha Beach?!") So as the sun sets on the last night before D-Day, and the happy couple toasts their imminent success on the lawn of HHM, it seems like nothing could possible go wrong now.

And then it does.

With just hours to go before the main event, as Kim drives confidently in the direction of Santa Fe and her destiny, Jimmy goes to buy a celebratory bottle of Zafiro Anejo… and spots Casamiro in line ahead of him. The good news is he's still got the mustache. The bad news? He's also got a broken arm.

Jimmy calls Kim in a panic.

"We're going to pull the plug and live to fight another day," he says. And look, there's a lot that's wrong with Jimmy. His judgment. His motives. His taste in neckties. But his risk assessment when there's a scam in the offing has always been impeccable, and if Kim were smart, she'd heed it. She'd keep driving. She'd take this as a sign from the universe, some benevolent deity offering her a way out of a plan that was always too risky to be worthwhile.

But she doesn't.

"It happens today," Kim says, throwing the car into a U-turn.

And that's where it ends — until next week, and our last episode before the mid-season break. Let's hope it doesn't end badly.

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