Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 5 – ‘Dedicado a Max’
This episode follows the Mesa Verde case with Acker and Jimmy working together to halt its progress; Mike is recovering from his knife wound in Gus’ facility in the middle of nowhere; Kim is determined to stop Weickart from claiming the plot; Gus meets Mike.
The title, ‘Dedicado a Max’, is from the fountain in the courtyard of Gus’ town. It is homage to his close friend Max Arciniega who was killed by Hector Salamanca during a meet with Don Eladio as seen in Breaking Bad; with Gus forced to watch him bleed out into the pool. The scene then cuts to red, bubbling tea – symbolic of the amalgamation of blood (red tea) and water (boiling water).
This episode begins where the last one ended as Mike wakes up and walks outside to assess his whereabouts. He is in a small zone marked by a cluster of single-story, clay clad buildings. In fact, we see Mike discover an old woman cooking food in the kitchen. She only speaks Spanish as Mike asks her where he is. Mike attempts to use his mobile phone but it is dead, so we see him trying to fashion a charger from some spare parts he found lying around. In a funny sequence, we see the old woman going to Mike and giving him a real phone charger to his bemusement, but his phone has no signal.
We are introduced to the next scene through camera angles from the bottom of pots looking upwards. Jimmy’s boiling a number of liquids in a number these pots and pans. It’s another innovative way of shooting a scene but is a weird one to describe. Moreover, this depiction is reminiscent of the meth cooking synonymous with Breaking Bad. Kim soon arrives home and Jimmy tells her that he’s making different teas. They converse on the Acker case as Kim warns him about construction workers being sent by Mesa Verde to the site to begin excavation for the new call centre. Jimmy devises a plan to counter their progress; he sets out to deceive the builders with numerous excuses and stunts to sabotage them.
Here, we see him really using his alter-ego Saul to his advantage. His first stunt entails the changing of Acker’s door number and a letter clarifying the address in the mailbox. Therefore, the building permit becomes nulled due to it listing the original door number. The head builder is irate and must wait at least a week to rectify the problem. The next plan concerns a fake site in front of the property billed as a possible area for rare, ancient artefacts. They find some common ceramic plate by the end of the testing. Another stunt introduces a radiation perimeter outside of the property which halts building for another seven to ten days. Here, it is questioned why Acker did not leave the property, but paperwork granted it safe to. These plans are blatantly obvious filibusters but cannot be counteracted due to them playing by the rules in legitimate formats.
Kim has a couple of meetings with Kevin Wachtwell, the CEO of Mesa Verde, and tells him about these violations the crew are delayed by. However, in a final meeting, with Schweikart also in the room, he is stern and stubborn in his pursuit to claim the plot, despite a nearby one reaping similar benefits. Mesa Verde differ Kim to another case given her affiliation with Jimmy and she is notified on each violation the building crew need to fix. It’s comedic because we see her in the same meeting room being alerted by the same person in different scenes which are time lapsed.
Eventually, Jimmy runs out of ideas and informs Kim that that is all that he can do and if he goes further than it will not be a legal matter. Kim accepts this prompt and they proceed, gloves off. Jimmy hires ‘Mr X’ who we saw in season one as a contender for a bodyguard for Pryce (Daniel Wormald). He is sent to find dirt on Kevin and returns to no avail. He is quizzed by Kim who questions his authenticity as a private investigator. Mr X replies with a set of photographs from the inside of Kevin’s home with Kim shocked at his deception for entry. Kim is desperate and asks Mr X is he can break into Kevin’s private office at his workplace; he agrees to do so to the slight bamboozlement of Jimmy.
After all I said and done with Mesa Verde, Kim returns to Schweikart and Cokely. Her boss, Richard Schweikart, removes her from the Mesa Verde case as he pulls her aside from her office. Kim stands in the foyer and demands he tell her if she will be fired or not. Kim is accused of being a liar despite her protests of it being such a stupid thing for her participate in. She states her diligence and hard work in getting a place at the firm as indispensable. Her fate is left as a sort of cliff-hanger as we do not get verbal confirmation of the outcome.
To end the show, Mike stays another night in the odd town. A powerful downpour causes a window to leak in through its wooden sill downstairs. Mike helps to fix it and stops the flooding. In the morning, he takes it upon himself to replace the sodden, rotting wood with a freshly crafted one. We get to see Mike’s handiwork and carpentry skills as we did when he built Cailey’s treehouse. Mike is getting to grips with the town and while replacing the wood, Gus appears in the courtyard talking to someone. Mike drops his things and goes out to meet him. They converse as Gus informs him that he is in a self-sustaining town in Mexico. Gus runs the town unbeknownst to the dwellers. He asks Mike if he could join him as he prepares for an imminent drug war. Mike challenges him, saying that he can use another goon until Gus unfolds that he needs Mike because he is the only person who can aid him in a search for revenge. The episode ends on this gripping note.
Kim’s character has now changed into one who will use illegal methods to get her own way. Throughout the show we have seen small elements of this, but I think with the advent of Saul Goodman Kim will endure and dispense some form of criminality.
With his own town, we are reminded of Gus’ incredibly calculated nature which is put across as a form of paranoia given such contingencies.
Saul Goodman is becoming a dominant force in Jimmy’s repertoire and in some ways is a larger scale amplification of ‘Slippin’ Jimmy’.
Mike warms to his newfound residence which happens to be a homely and welcoming atmosphere.
Gus is accused by Mike as using the town as a vanity boost and positive notion to aid a good night’s sleep, Gus tells him that it is a precautionary safe house.
As mentioned, the opening scene with Jimmy boiling the fluids is also a hark back at the hectic production of meth in Breaking Bad.
Jimmy insists that he and Kim imitate the clubhouse meetings with Kevin to relive her stress so Kim begins sporting a southern accent for Kevin and Jimmy jokingly imitates her.
Jimmy and Acker’ antics are hilariously entertaining. The determination of Jimmy and Kim to help Acker is immense. It is somewhat confusing, yet explicable in symbolising Kim’s dogged pursuit of justice from her perspective.
I really love these light-hearted scenes which break up the drama and tension in an episode. This is good marking of the show’s excellence as it sticks to its roots in the comedy genre and balances the episode.
Overall, this episode is a great one and carries on the trend of quality installments this season thus far.