Better Call Saul Season 5 REVIEW and Finale REVIEW – ‘Something Unforgivable’
The end is here, and Better Call Saul’s fifth season is capped off with a tense and brilliant episode.
Jimmy and Kim are recuperating after Lalo’s surprise visit and decide to stay at a luxurious hotel for safety. Kim is determined to proceed with her pro bono cases while Jimmy is anxious and angry with Mike for keeping him out of the loop. Lalo gleefully arrives in Chihuahua, Mexico to his palace-like domain with a sceptical Nacho, but his homecoming is cut short. Gus is angry at Lalo’s acquisition of Nacho and refuses to help him escape before Mike’s plea changes his mind. Kim’s mindset and priorities have largely shifted following her resignation.
As the curtains draw for season five, ‘Something Unforgivable’ ends with the intense cliff hanger of Lalo’s survival of Gus’ surprise attack. I guess this is the ‘unforgivable’ thing as per the episode title and will spark the inevitable cartel war, which has been teased for a while now, in season six.
This season’s finale did not feature Jimmy as much as I thought it would. He is still shaken by Lalo’s threats and stays in the hotel much of the episode. However, he does confront Mike about the Lalo situation who tells him that Lalo is being taken care of as they speak.
Kim’s life after Schweikart
After a night in the hotel, Kim decides to go straight back to work despite Jimmy’s apprehensions. Howard bumps into Kim at the courthouse and wishes to talk after she tells him she left Schweikart and Cokely. He unloads his thoughts on Jimmy’s wellbeing when he tells her of the pranks he was subjected to. Kim explodes into laughter after he gives the story and takes it as something Howard deserved telling him that he knows nothing about Jimmy. Howard leaves saying that the only person who truly knew Jimmy was Chuck.
Before she begins working, Kim asks for challenging cases to help those in need and is led to a storeroom of pending cases. The room is stacked with boxes of files and sections such as drug possession and even juvenile cases. Kim is definitely above her pay grade with the pro bono cases and seems to be satisfying her capacity for justice with her promised twenty cases for the day.
I am worried for what Kim’s future holds. She seems to be transitioning into a different character. When her and Jimmy brainstorm ideas on how to prank Howard, we see her reverting to the Kim of previous seasons who was a con artist with Jimmy. Her sincerity on destroying Howard’s career is a marker of this and is completely different to the professional, legal Kim from the Mesa Verde era.
We see Jimmy’s concern for a moment when she affirms her wish for Howard’s downfall. She plans on framing Howard when he settles the Sandpiper & Crossing case with a faked misconduct charge. The added bonus being that her and Jimmy would get a 20% cut of the settlement.
Lalo’s Short Homecoming
Lalo arrives home to his palace-looking home which is a gated property with guards, maids and so on. We see him truly happy and his people so too. He soon visits Don Eladio with Nacho who he introduces as a friend and asset. Nacho has a conversation with Eladio about his prospects as he talks of his wish for respect and not having to look over his shoulder. Eladio tells him he’s in the wrong business if he doesn’t want to be betrayed. We see Lalo gift Don Eladio a beautiful car with a wad of cash in the “froot” (front boot) as a sweetener. The ocassion is joyous and he rejoices for a time.
The Chihuahua shootout
Lalo’s joyous return to Chihuahua was halted by Nacho who facilitated Gus’ plans by unlocking the gates for armed men to enter.
On the night of the hit, Nacho is ready and up at 3am but inadvertently joins Lalo outside who reveals himself as a sort of insomniac, claiming that his best ideas come at night. The scene is so well constructed with the layers of tension and imminent action and Nacho’s excuse to go inside heightens this. The quick thinking of triggering the fire alarms with a burning pan on the gas while getting the decanter to distract Lalo was genius. Then, as Lalo pours the decanter, he is drawn inside when the alarm rings as Nacho rushes to the gates of the home to escape and let Gus’ men in.
A melee soon ensues. Lalo is inside and finds the burning pan, blaming one of his guards, as he sees an assassin from the window and uses the guard as a shield for the shot. The bullet scrapes him, and he moves out of the way, holding the boiling oil pan as defence. A shooter enters and Lalo throws the oil in his face and disarms him. He shoots another and proceeds to manoeuvre around the home.
He reaches a bathroom where the bath is lifted up and a tunnel revealed. Lalo goes through the tunnel which is about 100m long and circles back to the property, picking off the rest of the shooters and telling one to alert their boss Lalo is dead. Then he ventures further seeing two shooters who had discovered the bath in the tunnel. He shoots them then walks outside looking upon his fallen people. The episode ends with Lalo telling one of the injured assassins that his team dealt with Lalo. He tells Lalo that there was a middle to which Lalo acknowledges as Nacho. The season ends with Lalo walking out of his home gates in a vengeful stride as the music distorts and sharpens to the customary hard fade to black.
Season 5 Thoughts
The penultimate season has gone by quicker than I imagined, and we are left begging for answers.
Lalo’s next move
Lalo will certainly seek revenge against Gus but more immediately Nacho. I am truly worried about Nacho’s fate and hope that he is not condemned to tragedy. Now that Lalo has probable cause he will gather forces from the Juarez cartel to go against ‘The Chicken Man’. We know that most of the main characters: Gus, Mike and Jimmy will survive as they are in Breaking Bad and even Nacho and Lalo because Saul mentions them in season two episode eight of Breaking Bad, but Kim is a definite uncertainty. Her demise would be very saddening and looks more and more likely as the show progresses.
From Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman
We get to see a rapid transition from Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman in season five. In actuality, we can say that this change hasn’t affected anything major this season. Jimmy was involved with Nacho since episode three of season one and Mike in season one too. He has been on the verge of cartel affiliation ever since his dealings with Tuco. Jimmy’s alias has given him a façade for his legal defence of criminals. Saul is an excuse for Jimmy’s conscience. The idea of dual personalities is as old as time and Jimmy’s dichotomy is the same.
‘Main is truly not one, but truly two’Robert L. Stevenson
Kim and Jimmy’s relationship this season
We get to see Jimmy and Kim strengthen their bond early in the season despite the Saul Goodman introduction and Kim’s scepticism. This culminated in their surprise marriage when things went awry. Kim started the season with her dream case at Schweikart & Cokely and has had a downfall at the hands of Jimmy.
Since ‘Bagman’ (S5 E8), their lives has shifted astronomically which is seen in Kim’s resignation and Jimmy’s PTSD-like, shell-shock symptoms. The prospect of being ‘a friend of the cartel’ made Jimmy go in over his head at the respect and power he may gain. This is the major turning point in his life and his relationship with Kim.
Praise for Michael Mando
Michael Mando’s acting this episode was superb as is customary with his performance this season. During the night of Gus’ attack, Nacho’s fright when he is met by Lalo was palpable in his sweating and nervousness. To replicate genuine fear, deception and courage is impressive indeed. The double-agent-esque role Nacho has had beside Lalo in season five has been nail biting. He really grew on Lalo and was effectively kidnapped by him. Mando plays this part very well in his behaviour in front of Lalo and in front of Gus. He is a cool, calm character with Lalo and more vulnerable with Gus and Mike as he is desperate to leave the drug business.
Jonathan Banks adds even more to the character of Mike Ehrmantraut
The desert fiasco is Bank’s best acting this season. Mike’s experienced head and coping mechanisms while effectively taking care of Jimmy were portrayed in a masterful fashion. He dips in and out between Gus and Nacho’s storylines while maintaining his own storyline with granddaughter Kayley. I am amazed at the way Banks continuously outdoes himself in his acting. The drunk scene when he beats up a gang of hoodlums was beautiful shot and the balance between self-hate and gradual rehabilitation was perfect.
Rhea Seehorn delivers the season’s best performance
Seehorn in season five has been utterly outstanding portraying the deeply conflicted Kim Wexler. Her intense emotional portrayal was captured so accurately and the way she is able to switch up these emotions in the same scene is something special. The scene in question being her marriage proposal to Jimmy. The confrontation scene with Lalo when Kim’s speech bailed Jimmy out represents Kim’s heart and courage which prevailed over her fear.
Seehorn made this look so realistic. I was magnetised to the screen for Rhea’s scenes and her acting masterclasses have surely secured her an Emmy. She puts across a genuinely vulnerable, human rendition of a character which is often very difficult.
Not far behind are Bob Odenkirk and Tony Dalton’s performances
Saul has almost taken over and Jimmy is disappearing exponentially. Odenkirk portrays this expertly. Jimmy has gone through a lot in season five and Odenkirk puts this across in Jimmy’s novice status in the world of serious, professional cartel business.
We see the adventurous, risk-taking Jimmy this season and Odenkirk makes this ambition believable. Our conflicted protagonist has a multitude of emotion of introspection in season five and we see this through Lalo’s court case in a focused shot of his face as injustice is forcibly invoked as well as his mischievousness during the onslaught against Howard.
Tony Dalton’s Lalo Salamanca was introduced at the tail end of season four and has been an integral part to season five. His actions have been blatantly evil, scheming, amusing and thoroughly entertaining. I love Lalo’s sheer dare, ego and confidence, he is a perfectly crafted ‘villain’ to me. Dalton manages to pull of these very challenging character traits with great success. And congrats on that jump. Wow.
He is a stand-out performer and an actor I feel will receive more recognition after this role. The look of vengeance and hatred after his home and people are killed are the epitome of great story writing and direction only possible with his acting supremacy.
Better Call Saul’s writing is among the best in entertainment
I adore the subtle actions, dialogue, pauses in dialogue and visuals the show exudes. The writers have made it possible for the show to increase in scale, quality and story season after season just like Breaking Bad. I really am flummoxed by this re-creation of exponential drama.
The latest season is outstandingly scripted. The events that have taken place and the reaction of the characters to these constant changes and evolution of circumstance is largely unmatched in the modern television era. We are treated to history in the making with Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan’s seminal narrative work.
A Brief note on Directing
The camera shots and angle this season have been mercurial and very interesting. The directors always shake up the perspectives we see a scene, and this is no more apparent than in the ant-infested ice cream scene. The choreography must have been a serious hassle and the quality of the picture was insane. Nowadays, distinguishing cinematic production and television production can be inscrutable and Better Call Saul bucks the trend. The positioning of characters in various scenes and their actions have been pin-pointed and precise to the degree that every single scene is an art piece.
The season five finale has surpassed expectations and increased the stakes even more. I am in the dark as to the outcome of Gus’ attack and what Lalo will do. The storylines of everyone are strongly linked and I believe they will merge even more come the show’s end in 2021. Kim’s evil plans for Howard will be a deviance from her recent character arc and are a shock twist if anything else.
Jimmy is still figuring out his bearings and his next steps, so I am excited for what’s to come. Nacho is on thin ice and Lalo will search for him without inhibition after his people were assassinated. The morality in the show is all but gone so tragedy will likely strike from a narrative point of view. This is supported by the bleak denouement of Breaking Bad, its prequel show, whose initial events will soon line up with Better Call Saul.