A double dose of Better Call Saul returns to Netflix for its fifth and penultimate season. The season consists of the regular ten episode run and is set to pick up action quickly.
Off-the-bat, Bob Odenkirk puts in an amazing performance as he transitions into Saul Goodman. Rhea Seehorn’s Kim Wexler is sceptical of this change and is morally conflicted, similar to how Jimmy has been throughout the entire show. Conflicted at least to a degree higher than any previous season. Lalo Salamanca enters the picture as a charismatic character determined to know the ins and outs of Gus’ drug network with Nacho at his side. In other news, Gene Taković is in a predicament.
The premiere opens with the customary flashforward to the events after Breaking Bad with Jimmy as Gene. We join him following his discharge from the hospital, following the stroke-like event seen at the start of the fourth season. Gene leaves Cinnabon, maybe for good, as his former identity has been made by two men at the mall recognising him. So, we see him phone Ed ‘The Disappearer’ (played by the late Robert Forster) and negotiate a deal only for Jean to cancel last second, somewhat reluctantly. The sequence ends with Jean watching television.
The episode’s main events begin directly following season four’s, as Jimmy wins the hearing. We see him at the bar tending to relevant papers for the license and signing his name as ‘Jimmy ‘Saul Goodman’ McGill’. He consults Kim (Rhea Seehorn) who unwillingly agrees with him about changing his name. She tells Jimmy that it is his choice and that he should follow whatever he feels. Jimmy tells her that his name-change is for the people he began selling mobile phones to (largely criminals) from last season. These people will spread his name as a lawyer, due to them being criminals especially, and yield many clientele.
He decides to give out his phones from a tent in a shady street gathering event and give out his lawyer business cards. When out of phones, he flogs his business cards with the promise of a 50% discount on non-violent crimes, something Kim advised him not to do, and achieves his goal.
We join Nacho (Michael Mando) with the newly introduced Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) at El Michoacáno. They discuss the goings-on around their drug business. Lalo is especially focused on asking is anybody has seen or heard of Werner Ziegler. A reminder that he was the German head engineer for Gus’ construction of the meth super-lab and was killed by Mike (Jonathan Banks) in the final moments of season four. No-one claims to know of him. Also present, from Breaking Bad, is Domingo Molina aka. ‘Krazy 8’ – Jesse’s (Aaron Paul) acquaintance who him and Walt killed in unorthodox fashion.
A cocaine den is introduced when Nacho tells Lalo that there was some funny business that took place there. They Lalo arrives and inspects the stash to find a number of drug bags containing methamphetamine. He eventually joins Gus Fring in a meeting to discuss the issue. Gus admits that he made a mistake with the misplacement and apologises. There is a clear tension between the two which will likely escalate this season.
This is an amazing start to the fifth season which is better than expected. The trajectory of the season is in an upwards direction into further action and drama. With the show getting a lot more serious and fast-paced, the morals of comedy still manage to permeate through. For example, in Jimmy selling the phones in a tent and the drug/crime rave two junkies go on, heightened by their resemblance to Breaking Bad’s Skinny Pete and Badger. I also appreciate the end of the episode which is dedicates in honour of the late Robert Forster. The footage used for his cameo was unused from El Camino: A Breaking Movie and was a heart-warming touch and homage to him.
I rate this episode a solid 10/10.