Better Call Saul Season 6 Begins With The Shocking One-Two-Punch Of 'Wine And Roses' And 'Carrot And Stick'

We're in the endgame now, as "Better Call Saul" begins its sixth and final season with a double-episode premiere designed to give us a maximum amount of anxiety. I seem to say this whenever I write about this show, but I will forever remain impressed at how this "Breaking Bad" spin-off went from seeming like a cheap, lazy idea for a comedy-heavy series to a full-blown masterpiece wrought with almost unbearable tension. It would've been very easy for creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould to go down a silly road, leaning into star Bob Odenkirk's comedic chops. Sure, the Saul Goodman we met in "Breaking Bad" was morally bankrupt, but he was also something of a comic relief figure. But "Better Call Saul" went further, showing us the origin story of this character and revealing that he wasn't always the total slimeball we came to know him as. Of course, that just raised a whole new question: how did lovable con man Jimmy McGill become criminal attorney Saul Goodman? 

At this point in the series, Jimmy is operating in full-blown Saul Goodman mode, using the name to handle clients. But the vestiges of his better nature still linger. It's safe to assume by the time this season ends we'll see Jimmy's complete transformation. For now, though, we have to deal with the fallout from the season 5 finale. 

Lalo's lookalike

Season 5 concluded with drug lord/fast food franchiser Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) finally having enough of the always-unsettling Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton), acting head of the Salamanca family. Gus had Nacho (Michael Mando) working as a spy in Lalo's operation, and by the season finale, things had been put in place to have Nacho infiltrate Lalo's house in Chihuahua to pave the way for a team of assassins. Nacho left the gate to the compound open and fled, and the armed killers moved in. But Lalo proved impossible to kill. Instead, he got the drop on the entire team and succeeded in taking them out one by one. Worse: he pretty quickly figured out that Nacho was the one who let his would-be assassins in. 

Lalo understandably wants revenge, but he's a schemer and immediately starts cooking up a plan. Instead of making news of his survival known, he murders some hapless local who just happens to look a lot like him. He burns the body and leaves it at his house, and soon, word has gotten around that Lalo is dead. Meanwhile, he's working behind the scenes with his paralyzed uncle, Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis), to get revenge against Gus. The Salamancas can't just simply make a move against Gus — they need proof of his wrongdoing first. And Lalo is determined to get it, damn it! Gus better watch out. 

Nacho on the run

Most "Better Call Saul" fans are always understandably worried about Kim (more on that later!), but we should also not forget Nacho. Poor, poor Nacho, who has really been put through hell through the majority of this show. Nacho is one of those characters with a mysterious fate — he never appeared in "Breaking Bad," so we have no idea if he makes it out of "Better Call Saul" alive. 

And Nacho's predicament is more perilous than ever. He's on the run in Mexico, and Lalo knows he betrayed him. To make matters worse, Nacho, like everyone else, thinks Lalo is dead, so he has no idea the drug lord is gunning for him. But that doesn't mean Nacho is currently taking it easy. Oh no, he's instead holed up in a cheap motel, waiting for Gus to help him get back home. Gus' goons string Nacho along via phone calls, but it becomes clear pretty quickly that Gus is thinking of having Nacho bumped off. He even stations a lookout in an abandoned building across from the motel to keep track of Nacho.

None of this sits well with straight-shooter Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), who thinks Nacho has earned both the right to be brought home alive, and the respect of Gus. Gus coldly tells Mike that Nacho has his respect, but it doesn't sound like he wants to let Nacho live. Meanwhile, Gus, being one of the smartest characters on the show, has carefully deduced that Lalo is still alive. And if Lalo is alive, it stands to reason that he knows Gus tried to have him killed. Which means Gus and his entire operation are in serious trouble. 

Things take a sharp turn when Nacho figures out Gus is the one spying on him. And just to make matters more complicated, a cartel hit team led by the Salamanca Cousins shows up and a firefight begins. The action here is steller and intense, and ultimately, Nacho is able to make a getaway in a truck. After all of this, Mike, always resourceful, seems to hit on a solution: they should bring Nacho home and keep him safe, because if Lalo catches Nacho, he'll likely torture the truth out of him. And that truth will be all the cartel needs to order Gus' execution. We don't see how this resolves itself, however. The entire situation wraps up with Mike receiving a phone call from Nacho and offering the phone to Gus. "He wants to talk to you," Mike croaks. Will Gus take the call? 

Kim Watch! How Worried Should We Be About Kim Wexler This Week?

Level Of Worry: EXTREME.

Every recap for "Better Call Saul" season 6 will feature a segment I like to call "Kim Watch! How Worried Should We Be About Kim Wexler This Week?" 

As played by Rhea Seehorn, Kim is one of the most fascinating characters on TV right now, and Seehorn's performance remains nothing less than incredible. I had never heard of Seehorn before "Saul," but the unique way she plays Kim, particularly the way she has her character listen to everyone around her, quickly won me over. And I'm not alone: it seems like most "Saul" fans love Kim, and we're all very worried about what the hell might happen to her before the show ends. 

So how worried should be about Kim this week? Extremely worried, as noted above. But not because it's looking more and more likely that Kim is going to end up dead. No, the worry comes from the fact that Kim has clearly gone completely over to the dark side. Since the series began, the concern was that Jimmy would drag Kim down to his level. Now, interestingly enough, it's starting to look like Kim will be the one who finally pushes Jimmy completely over the edge into full-blown Saul Goodman territory.

Last season concluded with Kim suggesting she and Jimmy join forces to get Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), their former boss. Jimmy looked perturbed by Kim's suggestion but tentatively went along with the idea. In the double season premiere, we see that Jimmy is still worried. In fact, Jimmy seems ready to completely forget the idea and move on. But Kim is all-in. And so the plan is formed to slowly erode Howard's reputation. Things kick off with Jimmy infiltrating Howard's country club and planting cocaine in his locker. The planted cocaine is spotted by fellow lawyer Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr.), with Howard trying to play the whole thing off as some sort of prank. Does Cliff buy that, or does he think Howard is a secret drug addict?

After this, Jimmy and Kim's plan is just getting started. They recruit the Kettlemans, the crooks from season 1 who embezzled $1.6 million from the county. The Kettlemans are now working as accountants out of a run-down trailer in the middle of nowhere. Despite their arrest in season 1, the couple hasn't learned a lesson, because they're currently scamming their clients. Jimmy, in Saul Goodman mode, shows up and convinces the Kettlemans they might be able to get their conviction thrown out by claiming their lawyer, Howard Hamlin, had a drug problem. The Kettlemans go right to Cliff Main, hoping he'll represent them. He declines, but once again the seed has been planted in Cliff's mind that Howard is a drug addict.

As for the Kettlemans, they quickly figure out that Jimmy was just using them to get to Howard. They threaten to report this, and that's where Kim comes in. Kim suggests she'll turn the Kettlemans in for their current tax fraud unless they forget all about the scheme involving Howard. The Kettlemans reluctantly agree. It's a disturbing moment, because in theory, we should dislike the Kettlemans (and we do, for the most part). They're both terrible people ripping hapless folks off. But Kim is so cold and calculating here that we almost feel sorry for them. Jimmy, in fact, does feel sorry and gives the couple some money for their trouble. The implication is clear: Jimmy is still a soft touch, but Kim has fully embraced the dark side. Be afraid. Be very afraid. 


  • It goes without saying at this point, but gosh, this is one of the best-looking shows on TV! That meeting Jimmy and Kim have over dinner, shrouded in shadow but still perfectly visible, is a stunner. Ditto a moment later when Mike leaves a pitcher of lemonade on a kitchen table. It's just a simple thing and yet it looks like a work of fine art.
  • This is the first season of the show to not begin in black and white and in the future, with Jimmy/Saul living in hiding as Cinnabon manager Gene. Instead, after a brief fake-out, the opening of the season is a montage, in color, of Saul Goodman's house being cleaned out, presumably after he's gone on the run. And just to make things extra tense, the montage ends with the Zafiro Añejo tequila bottle stopper — the one that Kim saved all this time — falling out of Saul's desk as it is being loaded onto a truck. Why does Saul have this instead of Kim? I don't know, but I'm getting nervous. 
  • The whole house clearout scene reminded me of the final moments of "Citizen Kane," as Charles Foster Kane's precious antiques were loaded up and hauled away from the Xanadu mansion. 
  • It turns out the Kettlemans were the original owners of the hideous, inflatable Statue of Liberty that eventually ends up on the roof of Saul Goodman's office building. 
  • Kim tosses Jimmy's bullet-ridden "World's Second Best Lawyer" mug in the trash. To be fair, the thing has a huge hole in it and is therefore useless. On the other hand, Kim casually chucking the gift away feels ominous. 
  • While Bob Odenkirk remains great, Jimmy feels like little more than an observer in these first two episodes. Sure, he gets in on the action by infiltrating the country club, but I'm going to need a little more going forward. 
  • I had completely forgotten about the two female addicts who live with Nacho. We check in with them again here as Mike shows up to clear out Nacho's place (and to plant evidence to further implicate poor Nacho in the Lalo assassination plot). 
  • I enjoy Tony Dalton's cheerfully deranged performance as Lalo, but the character is starting to feel too invincible. He's like the Terminator in terms of unstoppability, and it's beginning to strain credulity. Not only did he take out an entire team of assassins, but he also quickly dispatches two armed men during this premiere without breaking a sweat. I know there's a good chance he'll be sticking around to the show's conclusion, but the writers might want to dial his abilities back just a smidge.