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‘Better Call Saul’ Review: It’s Strategy Versus Will in an Episode of Showdowns

Season 3 Episode 4, "Sabrosito" is all about the long game, on both the legal and less legal sides. 

Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo "Gus" Fring - Better Call Saul _ Season 3, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictur

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Better Call Saul’ Review: The Details Matter Most in A Tale of Two Schemes

Case Summary

Been saying to yourself, “When are we going to get more Gus?” Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, in  Episode 4, more than deliver. First, we get a look at how Gus’s operation, once upon a time, would way outperform the Salamancas. Then, in the present (the show’s primary present, anyway), the dick-measuring continues as Don Hector swans into the Albuquerque Los Pollos Hermanos to demand that Gus start moving his product (thanks to Mike’s work last week sabotaging the Salamanca distribution system).

But Gus does not seem dissatisfied with this turn of events — which is echoed by Jimmy and Kim’s own planning in preparation for Jimmy’s hearing over the legal matter that could get him disbarred. Enlisting Mike to get some extra intel on Chuck’s living situation is something we’ll see pay off in a future episode, certainly; what are the photos and “the other thing” for remains unknown. (Though an easy guess is that they plan to challenge Chuck’s basic competency, when this matter reaches the New Mexico Bar Association.) In the end, there were a lot of seeming triumphs this week for everyone we like — though how exactly that shakes out remains to be seen.

Remembering What Hasn’t Happened Yet (The “Breaking Bad” Tie-In)

We not only get reacquainted (for the first time) with Don Eladio, but we meet him at the fateful patio where Gus threw the worst pool party ever during “Breaking Bad” Season 4. There’s a clear rivalry being set up between Gus and Hector, but the question isn’t how it will resolve (after all, we have our answer). The real question is what happened, during this time period, that ended the rivalry with Gus a powerful shadow master, and Hector paralyzed in a wheelchair.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill, Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler - Better Call Saul _ Season 3, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Lady Sings the Blues

This is really, really important — straight-arrow Kim, the show’s one shining symbol of ethical behavior, operated this week on a whole other level. She knew exactly what she was doing when she figured out what handyman would be coming to Chuck’s house, and what she was doing when she canceled the appointment. She’s playing Jimmy’s game now, like she never has before, and it has us more worried about her than ever.

Kim might have called her reasoning for helping Jimmy “sunk costs” last week, but it also looks a lot like love. The kind of love that’s powerful enough to ruin a life. But right now, she’s striding out with confidence, side by side with Jimmy….

Again, we are worried about Kim.

Brotherly Love

Speaking of love (or the lack thereof), the way Jimmy and Chuck’s big confrontation played pretty much how we might have predicted it — with Chuck maintaining his petty, letter-of-the-law approach, and Jimmy calmly accepting that punishment (because there’s more going on than Chuck knows). “Could you at least look your brother in the eye?” ADA Kyra Hay (played by “Vice Principals” star Kimberly Hebert Gregory, if you were wondering why you recognized her) asks at one point. It’s the toughest question of the episode for both men, because their relationship is not damaged. It’s broken.

Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo "Gus" Fring; group†- Better Call Saul _ Season 3, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Gus Watch

Real talk: Gustavo Fring might be, to the best of our knowledge, a cold-blooded sociopathic criminal and murderer. But he also genuinely seems like the best boss…at least, if you’re not making drugs for him. The way in which he seems to actively care for the employees of Los Pollos Hermanos is just one of the ways this show lets the humanity of its characters peek through, creating yet another nuance worth appreciating.

“It’s From a Movie!”

We couldn’t quite identify the movie that Mike watches over at Stacey’s house (which we learn is new — Mike once again protecting the ones he loves). But Kaylee gets a lot of granddaughter points for watching what was clearly an older film with no animation, songs or princesses. Just another example of the real and genuine love that exists between Mike and the family he has left.

Best Quote

“This is America. Here, the righteous have no reason to fear.”
— Gus Fring

Wow, that line. A beautiful sentiment in the early 2000s. Perhaps more believable even just a year ago. And in the present day… Wow. Here’s the fascinating thing — I think Gus actually believes in this, the immigrant’s dream, the belief in America’s promise.

In Conclusion, Your Honor

Just a really quick note: From its first introduction, IndieWire has always translated El Griego Guiñador, the Salamanca ice cream shop, as “The Winking Greek.” People told us we were wrong, that it was really “The Winking Gringo.” But tonight’s subtitles, in the opening scene, proved us right. And yeah, we’re going to take a moment to gloat.

Meanwhile, this wasn’t the most exciting “Saul” installment, with multiple storylines focused on set-up over actual story (the series’ one major weakness, due to its love of the long game). But between the character moments we got, and the extra emphasis on Gus’s earlier days as a player in the cartel, it was hardly a wasted hour.

Grade: B+

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