Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 4 – ‘Namaste’
This episode is another rapid extension of events as Mike attempts to make amends with Stacey; Gus’ dead drop is pursued by Hank and Steve; Jimmy meets Howard for lunch and Kim sets out to resolve the Mesa Verde case.
The first shot of episode 5 is in an antique shop as the door opens and Jimmy enters. As he walks in, the camera angle is positioned at the top of the door, where the customary bell to signal entry is, looking down. It’s significant because it gives us the visual of the bell wherein the aural signpost emanates. This emphasises the entrance of Jimmy and by effect makes us curious as to his reason being there. The camera shot is revisited as Jimmy leaves.
Once in the shop, Jimmy chooses an array of random items and practises moving them in an upward motion, as if testing it for the perfect weight to a throw/ launch them. He eventually settles on a set of three bowling balls for a haggled price of $75-85. He ends us leaving with the bowling ball bag – a free addition from Jimmy’s persuasion most likely.
The next scene shows Jimmy and Kim in bed just before a 7am alarm rings. Once it does, they both wake-up and the scene cuts to them brushing their teeth, weak from morning tiredness. As they brush, they almost drool the foam out of their mouths. The reason I have mentioned this sequence is because it is a great example of the meticulous writing of the showrunners. It is a random scene to a degree but depicts the mundane and realistic nature of the everyday, working life of an adult with a full-time job. This is not a unique, one-of-a-kind scene, but its placement at the beginning gives us the temporal awareness that the episode will likely take place in one day and chronologically from this point onwards: at least for Kim and Jimmy.
Jimmy is warming to life as ‘Saul Goodman’ and this episode we see him meeting Howard Hamlin for lunch. They discuss current affairs until Howard asks Jimmy why he changed his name and why he needs to be Saul instead of Jimmy. He replies by telling Howard about the idealistic ways in which Saul provides justice.
“Last line of defence for the little guy. Life raft when you get sold down a river. Sharp stick when you get stepped. Guy with the slingshot when you’ve got Goliath on your back. Righter of Wrongs. Friend to the friendless.”Saul Goodman
Howard starts assuming that he knows why Jimmy changed ‘McGill’ to ‘Goodman’. He proposes it is in part due to affiliation with HHM and his late brother. Soon after, they finish lunch and Jimmy sees Howard’s chauffeur drive him away in a car with the number plate, ‘NAMASTE’ (also the episode name). Jimmy gives a scowl and the scene ends.
Hilariously, at the end of the episode, we see Jimmy, in casual dress, walking up towards the gate of a house in the night-time. We see the bowling balls from the start of the episode which Jimmy starts to throw over the gate. We realise that it’s Howard’s home and Jimmy is aiming for his car. On his second try, he hits Howard’s ‘NAMASTE’-plated Jaguar. A third and final shot is taken leaving the car a write-off with alarms beckoning. Jimmy swiftly runs off. This vandalism places the opening of the episode shortly after Jimmy sees Howard’s Jaguar number plate.
It is an expression of the reality of Jimmy’s feelings toward Howard, who screwed him over with the Sandpiper & Crossing case, being barred and his brother, Chuck, being outcasted from HHM. It’s interesting to see that in the past couple of episodes Jimmy’s release of stress and angst is through light-hearted scenes like this. This also sustains the comedic aspect of the show, which is demonstrated in this episode the most this season thus far.
When Kim leaves for work, broken glass is in the courtyard, which Jimmy says to leave for the landlord to clean. His assurance of this is in him saying that their rent pays for this type of thing to be dealt with. Jimmy leaves and Kim decides to do it herself. This epitomises her attitude on “doing the right thing” and by effect, her diligence as a lawyer. The Mesa Verde case looms over Kim as she has a meeting with her boss to discuss the situation. She feels guilty for her persistence with Acker (the old, stubborn man from last episode) and suggests they make a call centre elsewhere, but they refuse. Consequently, Kim employs Jimmy to make Acker a client of his to tackle the Mesa Verde implementation. He wins him over with the unorthodox ways of ‘Saul Goodman’.
Mike decides to meet with Stacey to see his granddaughter but is told to leave as he never answers calls or confirms the times he comes. This is an added blow to his seemingly downward spiral. We see him taking the same root home after leaving the pub last episode, implying that he has been drinking again. He walks by the gang of men he handled previously. They spot him and approach him. Mike handles his own for a minute but is down of the floor and bombarded with blows to the ribs and a knife cut. The most puzzling event proceeds. Mike wakes up in a bed with a bandaged knife wound: a mirror of a stereotypical movie scene. He gets up gingerly and steps out of the room he is in. We see him looking out from a face-on view as the shot expands. The building is a clay/ ginger colour and we soon see that it is a part of a cluster of buildings positioned in a maze-like pattern with Mike more or less trapped in the centre. The episode ends on this tense and mysterious note.
The core part of this week’s episode lies in Hank and Steve’s night-time stake-out as they chase up Molina’s tip. The matter is a very risky and dangerous play by Gus, whose man planting the dead drop is susceptible to arrest from the DEA if caught. If so, then the man may be traced back to Gus himself. However, the plan for the safe escape of his man seems structured and well versed, nonetheless.
Hank and Steve are in their patrol vehicle at the culverts they were tipped off about. They argue over the etymology of ‘culvert’ with Hank saying it is from the Dutch and Steve saying it’s from the French. It is a comedic scene which is broken by the spotting of the “dead dropper”. They start the vehicle, call for back-up and head toward him hastily. The guy jumps into a car and is chased until Hank and Steve corner him. He abandons his vehicle and makes a dash for the fields beside the road evading their gun targets. He runs and escapes via another culvert. Hank and Steve lose him, but they seize the dead drop which is all-in-all around $700,000. It’s a success yet Hank is unsatisfied as the perpetrator escaped. Steve consoles him by highlighting the fact that they seized such a large amount of cash.
During this pursuit, Gus is in his office at Los Pollos Hermanos. He has a phone in front of him ready for confirmation of the drop’s success. He is visibly nervous and agitated. The workers begin leaving the restaurant with their supervisor staying back to clean the deep fryer. Gus is adamant that it is dirty, but the worker struggles to register the reason for this observation. Nevertheless, the worker is subservient to Gus as he insists to clean it.
Here, we see Gus’ nervousness and agitation as he is focused on such minute and trivial details, even though we never get to see apparatus concurrently. This is a brilliant example of the show’s impeccable writing. The worker represents the average American citizen with an average job and Gus is the corrupt entrepreneur of the Mexican drug cartel. Therefore, these differing perspectives on relatively straightforward ideas display Gus’ abnormality as this rigid, perfectionist drug lord. Gus’ almost obsessive rigour towards neatness and perfection is also exemplified in this scene.
After the drop is complete and Gus’ man is picked up by Viktor in a distant car relative to the culverts, the phone call is received. It is a very brief, succinct and non-incriminating conversation and when it ends Gus breaks the phone in two. He is supposedly relieved and relieves his worker of cleaning the fryer. His compulsion for alignment and order is capped off by him very slightly adjusting the handles of the fryers. Behaviourally, we can conclude that Gus’ agitative state heightens his perfectionist attitudes due to nervousness. It is rare that we see Gus in such circumstances as he is always control of everything he sets out to do, so this spin on his mentality humanises him to an extent; not to show good-heartedness or character but as a reflection that even he, a revered technician of events, can be truly worried.
I think the balance between serious drama and comedy made this episode particularly rounded. The dark themes in Mike’s situation, Kim’s denial and the mischievousness and oddities in the dead drop fiasco are brokered by Jimmy’s ridiculous and amusing antics.