Better Call Saul “Sabrosito”

Better Call Saul S3E4 “Sabrosito”

Better Call Saul, along with its predecessor, are some of the best shows you will see at making seemingly unimportant lines, actually have some meaning. It’s no secret to anyone who has watched Better Call Saul up to this point that at times, this show can really feel like two shows in one, half of it focusing on the legal escapades of Jimmy McGill and the other half centered on the numerous illicit exploits of Mike Ehrmantraut. In yet another instance of a seemingly throwaway line actually having some importance, Jimmy comments on Mike’s lack of usage of the rule of thirds, a photography term which is used for proper alignment and positioning in a picture. In “Sabrosito”, instead of the usual two sided show, this episode gets divided into thirds, on one end the fascinating expansion of Gus Fring’s role in the show, both past and present, one side Jimmy and his ongoing legal battle with his brother Chuck, and Mike in the center playing a role in both acts of the show and thus appropriately being in the middle.

I mentioned Gus first and in the interest of chronology, we will start with the cold open, a scene with a vintage Breaking Bad feel to it. We find ourselves in the midst of a flashback, Hector Salamanca is paying a visit (and paying money) to cartel king Don Eladio. Hector brings a rather large sum of money to Don Eladio along with the news that he’s opening an ice cream store in Albuquerque, which will be named after him. Last and certainly not least, he also gives him an ice cream bobble head called Sabrosito, (Spanish for tasty) which is where we get our episode title from. It seems like things are looking up for Hector but we get a very clear note that he is a jealous person as Gus, who was unable to attend due to Los Pollos Hermanos keeping him busy, still one ups Hector, despite not even being present. A Los Pollos Hermanos t-shirt is arguably better than a bobble head as far as novelty gifts go but Gus emphatically has Hector beat when it comes to money. More money than you can count, and its shrink wrapped rather than rubber banded which Don Eladio takes too very quickly, announcing that from now on, all money should be shrink wrapped.  Hector doesn’t like being in second place and even though at this point in time, he and Gus are playing for the same team, it doesn’t stop him from wanting to be the best.

When we flash forward to the present, Gus is his own separate entity and thanks to an assist from Mike, Hector’s smuggling route has been busted. We know how short of a fuse Hector has so it’s not a surprise to anyone that he’s going to take action as a result of this. It seemed like your typical day at Los Pollos Hermanos but that all changed when Hector and his crew (Hey Nacho, long time no see) come in and take over the place. This is the most smug we’ve seen Hector by far as he goes up to well-meaning assistant manager Lyle  and scares him, along with basically everyone else in the building and says he’s not going anywhere until Gus shows up. After Hector disrespects several house rules including walking into an employee only area and smoking inside the building, Lyle wisely calls his boss and Gus rushes over.

The ensuing Gus Hector stand-off is an intense one. Hector is upset that his entry route has been compromised and wants to leech off Gus’ route to smuggle in his own drugs. Gus says that his trucks are already full and adding Hector’s stash into things will only run the risk that they both get in trouble. Hector stands his ground, all the while scraping dog crap from his shoe onto Gus’ desk with Gus’ pen and menacingly proclaims that he is the cartel. After the Salamanca crew leaves, Gus calls in his employees the day after and personally apologizes to them for having to experience the previous day’s actions and gives them twenty four hours’ worth of overtime pay and offers to help set up his employees with counseling should they feel the need for it. He then gives a riveting patriotic speech proclaiming the Salamanca’s are Mexican cowards and that here in America, there is no reason to tolerate them and give them what they want. Gus seems like the best fast food boss ever! He will not stand for Hector threating his business and his employees and this battle is far from over. There are some bad feelings going both ways as in a meeting with Mike later on, Gus admits that he stopped Mike from killing Hector because “a bullet to the head would have been far too humane”. On the cartel side of the show, the game is afoot.

After everything settles down, Gus finds the time to send a henchman over to Mike’s job at the court parking lot to give him his pay. Mike gives the money right back to the guy. Later on, as previously mentioned, Gus appears himself to ask why Mike didn’t take the agreed upon sum and Mike said he did this for himself, not for Gus. Gus extends an offer to Mike to work for him and Mike leaves the door open for a future business relationship between the two. Mike probably wants out but the money being offered is great and the pressure to provide and protect his family will probably see these two working together again sooner rather than later.

All of the Gus stuff took roughly a little over half the episode’s run time so by the time Kim pops across the screen making phone calls, you nearly forgot that this is Jimmy’s show. Who is Kim calling you might ask? Just every handy-man in Albuquerque trying to find the one that Chuck enlisted to fix his door. After much haste, Kim finds Chuck’s guy and pretends to be a part of the McGill residence and cancels the appointment. Chuck doesn’t know this so Kim and Jimmy have a golden opportunity here and Jimmy has just the right guy, sending in Mike to “fix the door”. He does actually fix the door but he does so with electrical tools which scares Chuck away in what could possibly be the funniest scene in the series to this point. With Chuck spooked upstairs, Mike takes pictures of the place, looking like Jimmy asked for anything that will make Chuck look like a crazy person. He hands the pictures, along with a piece of paper from an address book to Jimmy over breakfast at the usual diner and Jimmy calls the debt paid. I know the debt has been paid a lot between these two but I hope someone keeps coming back to the figurative bank and asks the other for assistance because it’s just so much fun when these two team up.

In our last scene of the night, Jimmy and Kim meet Chuck and Howard, along with prosecutor Hay to finalize Jimmy’s confession. They fight over some details here such as the difference between the damaging and destroying of property, and Chuck continues his campaign for petty person of the year award by insisting that the financial compensation should be an extra one dollar and ninety eight cents in order to cover the cost of the tape. Jimmy also throws in a back handed apology that is filled with things that Chuck could easily be saying to Jimmy rather than the other way around. After paying the amount in full, Jimmy heads on out while Kim stays back to try and get an answer out of Chuck. Howard wants to keep silent but Chuck, thinking he’s already won, admits that Jimmy actually destroyed a duplicate tape. We find out that this a very important piece of information as Kim exclaims Bingo as she walks out of the building with Jimmy. While I myself don’t quite know what the plan is, it seems to be going according to plan. We should expect this brotherly legal battle to heat up.

Other Thoughts:

Don Eladio’s first scene here greatly mirrors his final scene in Breaking Bad just in case you didn’t notice.

Michael Mando’s Nacho makes his season three debut tonight. His part? Eyeing over at another henchman to allow a mother and her child to leave the Pollos Hermanos restaurant.  I do hope he gets more prominent air time. He’s listed as a starring cast member and has yet to say anything four episodes into a ten episode season.

The usage of Mike as a progression from one side of the narrative to another was wonderful. While both narratives were awesome, the transition between them was just as good.

Mike seems to have found a hobby during his excursion to Chuck’s house. He commented to Jimmy afterward that it was nice to fix something for a change and is later spotted with an issue of handy-man magazine. Not sure how much time he’ll have in the future to dedicate to his new hobby.

Any guess  as to what was on that sheet of paper Mike gave to Jimmy? Maybe Rebecca, Chuck’s ex wife’s info?

One of Mike’s pictures was of a lantern on top of newspapers. The season three finale is called “Lantern”. There has to be something there.

Gus did his best Kobe impersonation nailing that wrapper shot into the trash from downtown.

Quote of the day, mentioned in already but it’s too good to pass over here. Gus explaining to Mike why he didn’t allow him to kill Hector. “A bullet to the head would have been far too humane.” It’s great to have Giancarlo Esposito as Gus back in the show

Gus gets his first big narrative of the season as the McGill brothers showdown continues to pick up steam. Mike ties both thrilling narratives together in a transition that’s as good as the narratives it’s connecting.

Grade A

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