The most interesting aspect of Better Call Saul is the growth, or decay, of the characters as we get closer and closer to the Breaking Bad timeline. Better Call Saul is a slow burn, focusing more on the relationships between characters than it does on anything else. While there are episodes (last week’s being an example) filled with action and violence, the world-building and character-building thrive when the show slows its pace down and focuses on the seemingly mundane ins and outs of the characters’ lives. As the show gets closer and closer to its conclusion, it becomes easier to track how these people intertwine. How does Jimmy Mcgill (Bob Odenkirk) end up in a place where he’s indirectly working for Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito)? Does Jimmy ever learn about Nacho’s (Michael Mando) death, and if so, what caused him to mention “Ignacio” to Walt and Jesse? The big question, of course, is what happens to Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) and how she ends up entangled in the cartel’s mess. This week’s episode, “Hit and Run,” directed by Rhea Seehorn herself, doesn’t give us many answers but does begin to unravel how Kim’s recent scam adjacent activity is getting her deeper and deeper into Jimmy’s mess.
This episode finds Kim at her most paranoid, terrified that she’s being followed after seeing a suspicious car everywhere she goes. Finding out that Lalo (Tony Dalton) was a weight off of her shoulders, but the stress of being involved with the cartel, even peripherally, plus her paranoia after successfully pulling off another part of her and Jimmy’s scam on Howard (Patrick Fabian), has left Kim more vulnerable than ever. It feels as though the past five seasons have been building up to this moment, especially as Kim and Mike (Jonathan Banks) have their first run in. As Kim accosts the men following her and returns to the diner. We see Mike is there, too, as he explains what he can about the situation. Kim and Mike both play crucial parts in Jimmy’s life, but until now, they’ve never crossed paths. Their meeting may seem inconsequential at first, but the brief conversation they have illuminates a more profound truth about both of their characters. Speaking of characters, let’s get to the ranking!
First Place: Kim Wexler
Kim making it to first place might be shocking, but this episode has resulted in everyone being a little down in the dumps. Kim had a momentary win this episode after her end of the Howard scam went well. To get Cliff Main to witness Howard, aka Jimmy, in a terrifying disguise that seems more like a Trump look than a Howard one, Kim invites him to a conveniently located lunch to discuss her ideas for a pro bono defense firm. While Kim does believe in this idea, and it’s something she loves to do, the pitch is a means to get Cliff out, so when he takes the bait and shows genuine interest, Kim gets double the wins. When she and Jimmy debrief after the day’s events, she is concerned about what went down, asking Jimmy, “You think we’re wicked?” yes, the concern and possible guilt is there, but she is celebrating at the end of the day. When Kim and Mike talk for the first time, some of her anxieties come out. She asks Mike why she’s being followed, and he answers that it’s for her protection because *Surprise!* Lalo isn’t dead. She’s frightened, rightfully so, but when asked why Mike is telling her and not Jimmy, his response sums up why Kim is coming out on top this episode. She’s made of sterner stuff.
Second Place: Spooge and Wendy
There’s been a lot of talk about Better Call Saul bringing back a certain two main characters from Breaking Bad, and surprise, it’s…. Spooge (David Ury) and Wendy (Julia Minesci)? Obviously, these two are not the meth-dealing main characters we expected to make cameos, but hey, if this show does one thing, it’s subverting expectations. If you need a refresher, Spooge is the poor guy from Breaking Bad who gets crushed by an ATM after stealing from Jesse, and Wendy is a prostitute that frequently appears with Jesse. Maybe they don’t deserve a second-place ranking, but between Spooge getting a new lawyer and Wendy getting paid to help with Jimmy and Kim’s scam, they are doing better than others on the show.
Third Place: Mike Ehrmantraut
After the events of last week’s episode, Mike is in a rough spot. He had a sweet affinity for Nacho, and as much as Mike puts up a tough outer shell, it isn’t hard to see that this loss is messing with him. He felt protective to a certain degree, and while he was able to save Nacho’s father, it’s possible he feels some guilt over the events. During Mike and Kim’s brief interaction, Kim realizes she recognizes Mike as the parking garage attendant from the courthouse. When she asks if that really is him and if he works at the courthouse as an attendant, he replies simply, “I was.” This understated response shares a lot about where Mike is mentally. To Kim, it’s more proof that anyone can get dragged into this life, but to Mike, he’s expressing the fact that this life is his only life now. The man that Kim “knows” is gone, and Mike’s tragic story is only beginning.
Fourth Place: Gus Fring
Gus doesn’t have a lot to do right now. He’s convinced that Lalo is alive, and if he’s right (he is), he has one huge and dangerous thing to worry about. This episode revealed his elaborate home setup, with his house having an underground tunnel connecting him to his neighbor’s home. He has an entire security team with cameras watching everything around him. He might be paranoid, but rightfully so. He might be passing the time by discussing Los Pollos Hermanos line cooks with Mike, but the clock is only ticking until Lalo returns, and the trouble resumes. We know Gus will survive the show, but unfortunately, he does not have the luxury of that assumption, and while seeing the smooth-talking Gus outwardly nervous might be strange, this season has shown us that this new side of Fring isn’t going anywhere.
Fifth Place: Jimmy Mcgill
It seems that the court of public opinion has finally reached a verdict about Jimmy. As the DA is attempting to build a case against Jimmy for his involvement in the Lalo Salamanca/Jorge de Guzman fiasco, people at the courthouse are beginning to find out. Everyone has always looked down on Jimmy and his sometimes, to put it nicely, “eccentric” means of practicing law, but it seems they all draw the line at fully scamming the judge and the court. He’s being iced out at work, and although Jimmy tries to frame the issue as “advocating for his client” when asking fellow attorney Bill Oakley (Paul Diseth) what’s going on, Bill explains that going this far to get a drug dealing murderer back on the street is more than anyone can approve of. Jimmy responds by telling him to prove it, but Bill shuts him down by succinctly saying, “There’s proving, and then there’s knowing.” Jimmy’s reputation is in the gutter, and it’s becoming more and more clear how this tarnished reputation carries over into his transformation into being Saul Goodman.
Sixth Place: Howard Hamlin
Howard simply cannot catch a break. The last episode saw Jimmy make a copy of Howard’s car keys, and this week we see the plan come to fruition. While Howard is in therapy, Jimmy “borrows” his car and disguises himself as Howard to stage a conflict with Wendy in front of Kim and Cliff Main’s lunch. While Howard is innocently in therapy describing his marital problems, his reputation is smeared all over town without him even knowing. Howard is by no means a good guy, but it’s hard to think he deserves all of this compared to the criminals and con artists on this show. Although, I can’t pretend it isn’t a little fun to see him slowly lose it after what he put Jimmy through during the show’s first few seasons.
Honorable Mention: Rhea Seehorn, Director Extraordinaire
This episode was Rhea Seehorn’s directorial debut, and she knocked it out of the park, seamlessly picking up the style of previous directors. The opening sequence may not have made sense until the end of the episode, but it sure was fun to watch and an impressive feat for someone’s first time directing.