Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) said it himself in the Better Call Saul Season 5 premiere during a rant about his new clientele: Criminals gonna criminal! It's built in to his business model; Albuquerque's scummiest can't help themselves from being scummy because it's in their DNA. Add in Jimmy's 50-percent discount for non-violent crimes, and it's a hall pass for meth heads to let loose that leads to one of the franchise's wackiest opening sequences (still well behind this all-time great, though) as we follow two bona fide morons as they go on a cop-snort-cop spree of meth and crime.
But it may as well also be a mantra for the entire episode, titled "50% Off," in which everyone has trouble escaping their past tendencies. Jimmy's slippin' back to Slippin' Jimmy as Saul Goodman, Mike (Jonathan Banks) lashes out at Kaylee at the mention of his son, Kim (Rhea Seehorn) can't step in front of Jimmy to stop him, Nacho (Michael Mando) finds himself in the deepest of sh--s, and Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) is back to intimidation to settle old scores. And all of it happening together makes for a particularly forward-moving episode that left me drooling for more. I mean, how could the episode end on THAT note?
Just like criminals need to speed around town stealing garden gnomes, Jimmy needs to feel the success of getting them off the hook for speeding around town stealing garden gnomes. His phone's blowing up with new clients, he's wheeling and dealing at the courthouse, and he has so many tacky suits that his wardrobe is in the midst of a hostile takeover of Kim's closet. It's the closet issue that is Better Call Saul at its best; Jimmy's new job is literally encroaching on Kim's life, further thickening the brewing tension between the two that Jimmy is so far oblivious to.
That's especially on notice when Jimmy takes Kim to look at an "open" house. (Side note: Do all houses in Albuquerque look like Hank and Marie's house?) Jimmy's already so happy with his new gig that he's planning his future with Kim. "You're doing great, I'm about to be doing great," he says, can't she imagine hosting movie night in this living room? Kim doesn't share the same enthusiasm, and it's not just because the built-ins are too much. While Jimmy goes on about the smell of popcorn, she's taciturn, because Jimmy showing her a house for them to buy is a huge step in their relationship, and after she lied to her client in the premiere at Jimmy's suggestion, she's rethinking the two of them.
But Kim can't tell Jimmy what to do (yet), whether it's out of being scared at how Jimmy will react or whether she respects that he's adult enough to make his own decisions, so she's dragged along by Jimmy and his escapades. It's only when she brings up that she lied to her client and Jimmy promises that it will never happen again that she takes an interest in the real estate and the two can play house. And yes, there is a massive walk-in closet, as if to say that the house is big enough for Jimmy, Kim, and Jimmy's suits. It's not quite the terrible decision of "let's have a kid together to save our marriage," but buying the house as a way of fixing what is ailing them is pretty close and just as ominous. Thankfully, Kim has the good sense to say, "Yeah, maybe someday."
Again, it's a battle between Kim's love for Jimmy and her fear of what Jimmy's becoming. She cares for Jimmy so much that she needed to hear Jimmy say there would be no more lying to her clients, even if she doesn't believe it or knows that it won't apply to how Jimmy treats his own clients. While Jimmy's focus is on building his new business, Kim's wondering how it has already gone this far, and likely feels some blame in it -- remember, in the premiere just before signing to become Saul Goodman, Jimmy asked her if there was something wrong he wasn't seeing with his plan, and she had the chance to stop him right there and didn't. That enabling of Jimmy isn't only going to speed Jimmy up, it's going to be awful for Kim to live with. Because we know that either Jimmy chooses Saul over Kim or Kim chooses herself over Saul (barring something awful happening to Kim, which I don't think the show will do), it's all moving at high speed toward an explosive breakup. These Kim-Jimmy scenes with the house and closet were brilliant.
Nacho (Michael Mando) would probably prefer closet-space issues to what he's dealing with. With Lalo (Tony Dalton) pressing Gus on what he knows about the great Meth Lab Dig of 2004, Gus decides to move on Lalo by yanking on Nacho's collar, waking him up out of a dead sleep (rude!) to show Nacho that his dad can accidentally land on a bullet at any time. (Does Nacho's dad stay up late or does Nacho go to bed really early?) With Dave Porter's score revving up, I really thought Mr. Varga was a goner, but Nacho promises Gus that he'll gain Lalo's trust and learn everything he can and report back to him in exchange for his dad's life.
When Krazy-8 (Maximino Arciniega) gets busted by the cops while making a crackhouse call after some clogged pipes, Nacho seizes the opportunity to get in good with Lalo by going American Ninja Warrior and breaking into the stash house to get the rest of the meth before the DEA can. Lalo's impressed, but that doesn't mean anything if Krazy-8 can't keep his mouth shut. After Nacho tells Lalo that Krazy-8 is loyal, Lalo pauses, causing Nacho to ask if he should "take care of him." Lalo says nah, he's got something much better in mind.
It's unclear whether that "something better" is a lawyer in a brash maroon suit and yellow tie, but in the final moments, Nacho pulls up in a car next to Jimmy -- fresh off a stuck-elevator session getting sentences reduced with another lawyer -- and tells him to get in. It's the first time these two have been in the same scene since Season 1, and the importance of it can't be overstated.
The melding of Jimmy and Nacho's storylines is something I've been pining for since they went their separate ways about five years ago, but it feels like the timing is perfect now that Better Call Saul knows its end date. Even better, no one expected Nacho and Jimmy to reunite this early in the season, meaning things are going to happen a lot faster than any of us expected. And if that ice cream cone sadly plopped to the hot ABQ pavement is any indication, the fun times -- all one episode of them! -- Jimmy had as Saul Goodman are over. Sad ice cream never lies.
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 9/8c on AMC.