Tuesday, May 24, 2022

‘Better Call Saul’ Recap: Season 6, Episode 5 “Black and Blue”

In this week’s episode of Better Call Saul, “Black and Blue,” Gus continues to descend into an abyss of paranoia, and Howard figures out the source of his recent really bad luck. Also, Lalo is back, but he is nowhere near Albuquerque.

Kim is Having Trouble Sleeping

It’s 3 in the morning, and Kim is lying awake in bed. She gets out of bed and walks into the living room to smoke a cigarette. Actually, she goes to the living room to peer out of the peephole and through the windows onto the parking lot. It seems the news that Lalo Salamanca isn’t dead after all is keeping her up at night. She then places a chair under the doorknob, and this seems to settle her mind enough to focus on some work. Jimmy soon joins her and sees the chair under the doorknob. He mentions that he’s glad that Lalo is dead, and Kim does not correct him.

At the diner, Kim meets Viola, the paralegal she worked with during her Schweikart and Cokely days. Viola mentions that she has been assigned to the Sandpiper case since Kim abruptly left the firm. Kim acts surprised at this news and starts asking questions about the status of the case, trying to glean any information she can. And it works: Viola gives up the judge’s name who will mediate, someone named Casimiro. Viola then tells Kim how much she admires her for leaving the big firm to help the little guy with her pro bono work. She says that Kim is the reason she loves the law. Kim is noticeably uncomfortable being given these compliments.

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At home, she fills in Jimmy on her meeting with Viola. She finds Casimiro in a law magazine and shows Jimmy his picture, who is decked out in significant and impressive mutton chops. “That’s less face to worry about,” Jimmy says. Is another cosplay in Jimmy’s future, perhaps? He pulled off Howard so well last week!

Gus is Having Trouble … With Everything

We see Gus sitting at his desk in his Los Pollos Hermanos office, wearing his signature yellow button-down. He stands up and walks over to his mirror, making sure that neither the bulletproof vest nor the gun on his ankle is visible. He walks out into the kitchen, supervising his employees’ work. Business is good, and the place is very busy. He assists at the cash register and takes a customer’s order. But during the order, Gus becomes so distracted by his paranoia of Lalo’s whereabouts that he blocks out the customer’s voice and begins scanning the restaurant, sure that he is about to be taken out. He then rushes outside to the parking lot but finds a whole lot of nothing.

We then see one of the bicyclists from last week’s cold open driving home. She parks her car in her garage, gets out of the car, and opens the trunk. Mike crawls out and enters the house. He checks in with the man posted at the bank of cameras and is told that nothing noteworthy happened for the day. Mike then asks him where Gus is, hoping that he’s at home sleeping, but the man shakes his head no and points Mike to the bathroom.

Mike sees Gus scrubbing the tub grout with a toothbrush in the bathroom. Gus has always been a neat and tidy man, but this act of cleanliness is being fueled by pure anxiety. Mike tries to calm his nerves by saying that there is nothing to report and that this is going to be a waiting game. Gus realizes that Lalo can’t make a move right now after all (for reasons he doesn’t share with us), and this seems to calm him down.

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Later, Mike and Gus climb down the ladder to the underground laboratory-in-progress underneath the laundromat. Construction of the lab has halted for the time being, and it’s only a shell of what it will become. Mike senses that Gus believes the superlab is somehow connected to Lalo’s whereabouts and motives, and Mike tells him that he’ll put more guys on the place to keep an eye out. Gus walks down to the ground and looks around. He then places a gun in a hiding spot in case he needs protection later.

Howard Figures Things Out

Erin, an associate who works with Cliff Main, is giving a presentation to the residents of the Sandpiper Crossing nursing home, informing them of the progress they have made in the class-action suit. Cliff and Howard Hamlin are sitting off to the side, and Cliff notices Howard’s nervous leg-shaking. Howard then jumps up to take over Erin’s presentation when some residents complain about waiting so long to see results. He calms the crowd and tells them that they’re in it for the long haul, but it’s all going to be worth it. The residents seem to accept this.

After the meeting, Cliff confronts Howard about what he’s seen over the last few weeks: the baggie falling out of the gym locker, the insinuations made by some clients that Howard has a drug problem, and the shocking scene in the middle of the street from last week’s episode. Howard is understandably confused about Cliff’s claims of seeing him throw out a prostitute from his car in some drug-fueled bender until he realizes that Cliff was with Kim Wexler when he witnessed this. This is all Howard needs to hear to realize who is behind all of this, and he calls his assistant and tells her to cancel his entire week.

Francesca is working for Jimmy again (thanks to a lot of cash and a promise by Jimmy to be allowed to help decorate the new office), and she tells him over the phone that a client, Mr. Ward, needs to see him immediately. It’s late at night, and Jimmy pulls up to a rundown, hole-in-the-wall establishment. A very big man with nothing to say lets Jimmy into the place, and we see that it’s a boxing gym. And Howard Hamlin is waiting there.

Jimmy pieces the name together that Francesca gave him: “Mr. Ward. H.O. Ward….” and chuckles to himself. When he asks Howard what’s going on, Howard lists off everything he has encountered over the last few weeks and tells him that he knows he is the root of all his problems. Jimmy tries to brush it off, but Howard is convinced that Jimmy is to blame. Howard tells Jimmy that he is tired of the pranks and the lies, and he wants to settle their problems once and for all in the ring.

Jimmy begins to walk away from the ring, but curiosity and maybe some more scheming bring him back. Both men get their gloves and their mouthguards, and a boxing match of sorts takes place. Howard and Jimmy each get in some good punches, but Howard eventually knocks Jimmy on his back. “You’ve mistaken my kindness for weakness,” Howard tells him. Howard leaves the ring and gets in a car parked outside. A private investigator is waiting for him, and Howard tells him to follow Jimmy nonstop. The investigator does that just when Jimmy leaves the boxing gym a few minutes later, following his car down the street.

When Jimmy gets home (with an icepack on one eye), he tells Kim everything that happened. But what is interesting is that neither Kim nor Jimmy is concerned that Howard has figured out they were behind the scheme. It seems that Howard finding everything out was also part of the scheme all along.

“In Liebe, Deine Jungs”

This week’s cold open takes place in a sterile, laboratory-looking place. A man in a labcoat pours acrylic over a slide rule to encase it and create a keepsake. The finished product is engraved with the words “In Liebe … Deine Jungs,” which is German for “Love … Your Boys.”

In a bar somewhere in Germany, some teenagers are playing a trivia game, and they get stuck on a tricky question. A woman who is sitting alone at the bar offers an answer. They ignore her and get the question wrong. Then a man walks up to the bartender and asks, in English, for a drink. The bartender asks where he is from, and Lalo Salamanca — or “Ben,” he tells everyone — says New Mexico, from a small town called Jemez. This catches the woman’s attention, and she tells him that she almost visited that town. The woman, Margarethe, explains to him that her late husband, Werner, worked in that area and was killed in a cave-in.

In an earlier season, we met Werner and his men as they were hired by Gus Fring to build out the underground laboratory where Walter White and Jesse Pinkman will later make their product (and where Gale Boetticher will make his coffee with his impressive distillation apparatus). So we know Lalo is here at this bar in Germany to get any information he can from Margarethe, which is frustratingly little. She knows nothing about Werner’s work or the men he worked with. She tells Lalo that Werner’s men sent a gift and their condolences for Werner’s funeral, but not one of them showed up. She doesn’t even know their names.

Lalo walks Margarethe home. She doesn’t invite him in because of her work schedule (and still-lingering grief), so Lalo leaves as she goes inside. But the next morning, we see Margarethe leave for work, and Lalo walks back to her house from across the street, jumps the privacy fence, and breaks his way in. Inside, Lalo heads upstairs to the office and methodically looks through all paperwork and notes he sees, trying to find any information on Gus’ superlab. Margarethe makes an unexpected return, and Lalo assembles his silencer to his gun in case she gets in his way. But while he waits, he sees the encased slide rule memento on the bookshelf (that was created in the cold open) and realizes that this is the gift Werner’s men sent.

When Margarethe makes it upstairs to the office, Lalo is thankfully nowhere to be found, having escaped through a window.

Better Call Saul‘s sixth episode, “Axe and Grind,” will air next Monday, May 16 at 9 p.m. EST on AMC. Catch our weekly recaps here.

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