better call saul bad choice road review

This week on Better Call Saul:

  • Jimmy returns!
  • Kim quits!
  • Lalo heads south of the border!
  • Mike and Gus have a talk!
  • Things get almost unbearably tense!

Mike

After last week’s phenomenal episode, Better Call Saul doesn’t even let viewers catch their breath. As the season comes near its end, things are growing almost unbearably tense, with seemingly all our players pushed to the edge.

The excursion in the desert has clearly drawn Mike and Jimmy closer together, because Jimmy – who is clearly suffering from PTSD from the situation – turns to Mike for some sort of solace. He wants to know when he’s going to start feeling normal again. Mike can only tell him that it’s different for everyone, but one day, Jimmy is going to wake up, and the horrors he witnessed will no longer both him. And then he’ll know he’s moved on.

It’s not much comfort. “I can’t believe there’s over a billion people on this planet, and the only person I have to talk about this with is you,” Jimmy bemoans.

Mike, meanwhile, goes back to work, and even attempts to make good on his promise to Nacho to help get him out of the game. He pitches the idea to Gus – but it doesn’t fly. Gus would rather keep Nacho around than lose an asset, but Mike makes one last push to have Gus leave Nacho’s father alone. It’s a reasonable enough request, and as Mike puts it, they’ll probably get a lot more use out of Nacho by treating him nicely rather than threatening the life of his loved ones.

Lalo

As for Lalo, he’s out on bail, and almost gone. Almost. The plan is for Lalo to run to Mexico and avoid ever getting caught again. And at first, that seems like what’s going to happen. He even says goodbye to his Uncle Hector, assuring him that they’re not done trying to destroy Gus. For the time being, though, Lalo has to take care of himself.

But Lalo can never let well enough alone. And as he and Nacho wait for the two Salamanca cousins to come pick him up – at the same exact spot they dropped off the money for Jimmy – he has an idea. When Jimmy returned from the desert and got Lalo out on bail, he explained his absence by saying he had car trouble and that he had to ditch his car. Lalo wants proof, so he and Nacho go searching for the vehicle – and find it. In the ditch where Jimmy and Mike left it – shot full of bullet holes. Jimmy didn’t say anything to Lalo about gunfire, and now he has questions. Which means he’s ready to pay Jimmy a visit.

Kim and Jimmy

“Bad Choice Road” ends with a 16-minute sequence that’s so intense, and so nerve-wracking, that I honestly felt like I was going to throw up. There was a pit of dread building in my gut, and it just got worse, and worse. Before the episode arrives there, though, it moves Jimmy and Kim around a bit.

Jimmy comes back from the desert clearly in bad shape – both physically and mentally. He doesn’t tell Kim about the shootout, or all the death he witnessed. But the signs of PTSD are there, leaving him on edge – and also sapping him of his Saul Goodman charm. He flunks badly during a case – a case Saul Goodman probably could’ve won with his eyes closed. He’s a shell of his former self, and he can barely even take comfort in all the money he made from the desert fiasco.

Kim, for her part, senses the change. She also senses that it’s time for a change herself – and so she quits. She says goodbye to her cushy job at returns to just pro bono work. Oddly enough, this decision doesn’t sit well with Jimmy. Even though Jimmy has been known to make wild choices all his life, he’s confused that Kim would give up such a good gig. And, he adds, pro bono work doesn’t pay the bills. So what’s Kim’s plan? There’s a hint of what she wants: right before she leaves her office she grabs the bottle topper from the expensive tequila bottle she and Jimmy shared with Ken, the rude guy they teamed-up to scam once upon a time. It suggests that what Kim really wants to do is work with Jimmy.

And she has a chance to display some of her skills when Lalo comes calling. Here is the tense part of the episode: Lalo, a gun visible in the band of his pants, demands answers from Jimmy. He makes him repeat the same story again, and again, about what happened in the desert. Outside, Mike – who has caught wind of all of this – waits with a sniper rifle. And I spent this entire moment on edge, worried that Kim would be shot – either by Lalo, or by Mike, accidentally.

But Kim actually gets the upper hand. She takes control of the situation and gives Lalo the talking to of his life, pointing out that Jimmy/Saul is the only person who has actually remained loyal to Lalo, and that if Lalo sent Jimmy to get the money, he clearly doesn’t trust his own men. She flat-out tells him to get his house in order, and his shit together – and it works. Lalo may still have his doubts about Jimmy, but Kim’s sharp words do the trick, and he leaves – to head back to Mexico and take care of some things. And now we can all exhale for a moment. Until next week, at least.

Sidebar

  • I know I say this every week, but god damn, Rhea Seehorn is a powerhouse. Her big moment here is dynamite.
  • Lalo probably sticks around for a while, since Saul references him in Breaking Bad. But gosh, I so wanted Mike to just pull the damn trigger at the end there and kill him. Alas, it’s not to be.
  • “Bad choices lead to bad roads lead to bad places,” Jimmy tells Kim, and I have a very bad feeling that Kim’s “bad choice” to possibly work with Jimmy is going to go horribly wrong.
  • Gus figures out that Juan Bolsa is the guy who hired the thieves to rip off Jimmy. Bolsa was apparently doing it to help Gus out with the Lalo situation, because he has no idea what Gus is really doing behind the scenes.
  • Loved the split-screen that opens the episode, showing Kim nervously smoking around the apartment as Jimmy returns to civilization.
  • The next episode is the season finale. And then next season is the final season. Getting nervous yet? I am.
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