better call saul 50% off review

Last season of Better Call Saul was just as good as it’s ever been, but there was a slight issue: The world of Jimmy McGill very rarely intersected with the world inhabited by Mike, Gus, and Nacho. In many ways, it felt like two different (very good) shows. Now, as Saul moves towards its endgame, the series appears to be slowly moving its players closer together – something that’s bound to upend the world of Jimmy McGill.

Gus, Nacho, and Lalo

As “50% Off” begins, we jump back to a moment from the previous episode, where Jimmy, desperate for more clients, gives away his business card with a 50% off offer to a select few prospective customers. Kim had warned Jimmy that this could actually inspire people to commit crimes – an idea Jimmy shrugged off. But that’s exactly what happens here when two meth heads who take the offer proceed to have a wild, wild night, and day, and night again. In a mad dash of a montage, we see them stealing groceries, ripping people off, driving around like maniacs, stealing lawn gnomes, robbing convenience stores, smashing car windows with a baseball bat. It’s almost endless. It’s also a great way of illustrating how Jimmy’s new Saul Goodman lifestyle is corrupting not just him, but those he comes in contact with.

The meth heads eventually work their way into the lives of Nacho and company by attempting to purchase even more meth from the drug house we saw in the first episode. The seemingly ingenious drain-pipe scenario – where the product is sent down a pipe to those waiting outside – backfires, as the drugs become caught within. A ruckus arises, and Nacho sends Domingo to take care of it. Unfortunately for Domingo, his successful dislodging of the drugs happen just as a cop car pulls up.

Enter Nacho and Lalo. There’s a ton of product still in the drug house, and Lalo assumes the cops are going to grab it. But Nacho has a plan: He turns into a god damn ninja, jumping over rooftops to get into the house and retrieve the stash. Why take such a crazy risk? Because he’s on a mission to get close to Lalo – a mission ordered by Gus.

Early in the episode, Gus sends his men to pay Nacho an unpleasant visit, one that ends with a clear threat towards Nacho’s father. Gus wants Nacho to get as close to Lalo as possible – “I need to know what he’s going to do before he does it.” The only way to get close is to get in Lalo’s good graces, and Nacho’s rooftop stunt does just that.

But now they have another problem: Domingo is in custody, and Lalo is worried he might switch. They need someone to help them navigate the legal system and get Domingo out. Gee, I wonder if Nacho knows a less-than-honest lawyer who might help?

Mike

Mike’s story is shaping up to be the most tragic this season. His murder of Werner has unmoored him, and when we catch up with him this week, he’s in a drunken stupor – his house littered with empty PBR cans. It would probably be best if Mike slept it off – but he can’t. His daughter-in-law places a frantic call, asking if he can watch granddaughter Kaylee. Mike says sure.

Bad idea.

In a particularly painful scene, Kaylee probes Mike for info about her dead father – and it’s all too much for the hungover (and possibly still drunk) Mike. He snaps at the girl, and there’s something extra unsettling about this moment – Kaylee was one of the few people in Mike’s life he’s always been warm towards. To watch him bark at the child here is heartbreaking.

Jimmy and Kim

Things remain tense in the Wexler-McGill/Goodman household. Kim is still uneasy about Jimmy’s new career as Saul Goodman, and she remains understandably icy towards him. Jimmy, ever astute, keeps trying to sweet-talk her and go out of his way to please her, offering to take some of his flashy suits out of their closet so Kim has more room; suggesting a movie night (Martin Scorsese’s After Hours); but none of it seems to thaw Kim.

Jimmy has one last trick up his sleeve: He takes Kim to a huge house that’s for sale, and implies that they buy it. Kim has no interest in buying a house, but as they tour the property, we see her slowly start to come around to the idea. And she also draws a line in the sand: “I know you were trying to help, but I don’t want to lie to my clients,” Kim says, stressing she means all of her clients. In other words, she doesn’t want Jimmy and his amazing scam powers to help her with her cases. Jimmy takes the hint, and by the time the two leave the house – after Kim playfully turns the shower on with Jimmy standing in it – things seem warmer between the two.

But while Jimmy is fine tamping down his con-man charm with Kim’s clients, he has no intention of doing so with his own. The result is a fantastic sequence where we see Jimmy – as Saul – roaming the courthouse halls, working his magic on everyone he comes in contact with. There’s only one person who seems averse to his charms: An Assistant District Attorney.

Jimmy, being Jimmy, has a plan for that: He pays a janitor to shut down an elevator, trapping him and the ADA inside long enough so that he can work out several plea deals for his clients. It’s a slick, successful mood. And it’s clear Jimmy has adapted quite well to being Saul Goodman. The only time we see him falter is when an old familiar face pops up: Howard, offering to take Jimmy to lunch. Jimmy says sure, but the encounter with Howard – someone from his old life – knocks him off-kilter.

For just a second.

Sidebar

  • The episode ends with Nacho showing up and taking Jimmy off…somewhere. The result: Jimmy loses a delicious looking ice cream cone he was eating. That’s no way to treat ice cream.
  • As you might have noticed by now, Domingo is Krazy-8, the drug dealer Walt murdered in the first season of Breaking Bad. We seemingly see him get his nickname here, when Lalo calls him “Ocho Loco” during a card game.
  • Next week on Better Call Saul: Get ready for the return of two familiar faces (No, not Walt and Jesse).
  • “50% off? That’s almost half.”
Cool Posts From Around the Web: