better call saul s4e5 recap

Better Call Saul, Season 4, Episode 5: “Quite a Ride”

Last week, Jimmy learned a valuable marketing lesson: if there’s not a natural demand for your product, find a way to artificially create one. This week, he doubles down on that strategy with considerable success. Unfortunately, he also learns a much harsher lesson in the process: when you take shortcuts to generate business, you have to protect yourself from those wiling to go one step further to take what you have.

Or maybe the real lesson is this: if you’re gonna sell stuff out of the back of your car in the middle of the night, maybe you should bring someone to guard the money and watch your back. 

On some level, you can’t blame Jimmy for selling phones on the street. At least he bought them first rather than stealing them. And it’s not his fault that he’s only seen one customer since he’s worked there. Yes, both his one in-store sale and his street sales were ethically challenged at best, but you can’t fault the guy for working hard. He’s already asked his manager for a transfer to a store with more foot traffic, which would make a lot of sense since his talents are being wasted in an empty store. So he does what any good salesman (well, what any good salesman with questionable ethics) would do and takes the product directly to the customer.

But getting rolled by a bunch of kids is a harsh reminder that he’s not as young as he used to be, and maybe he’s lost a step. Or maybe he’s just distracted. In any event, maybe this is part of the reason we see so many bodyguards and security measures at the offices of Saul Goodman and Associates in the years to come.

Of course, the real issue is that Jimmy needs to stay busy. It’s either that or deal with his feelings about Chuck, and he’s not ready to talk yet. After all, if Howard’s seeing a therapist twice a week and is still an emotional wreck, why should Jimmy bother?

As usual, Jimmy’s risk-taking, free-wheeling sales venture stands in sharp contrast to Mike’s methodical approach. Gus is finally ready to start building what will become Walter White’s super-lab, and Mike’s interview process for potential contractors is fun to watch. We only see two candidates, but I’m guessing there are several more that didn’t make the cut because they couldn’t handle the trip to the site. Ultimately, the job goes to someone who is thorough, honest, realistic, and professional—much like the men he’ll be working for.

Kim is also taking a huge risk, blowing off Mesa Verde to represent low-level criminal defendants. Kim’s priorities haven’t been the same since last season’s auto accident, and that’s probably not a bad thing. She’s been working her ass off so that a small regional bank can become a slightly larger national bank, and while it’s been great for her balance sheet, it doesn’t seem to be doing much for her otherwise. On the other hand, while she’s making very little (if anything) defending ungrateful delinquents and terrified drug offenders, it makes her feel good. Eventually, she’ll have to decide whether that good feeling is more important than the financial stability that Mesa Verde can provide. It’s hard to pay bills with job satisfaction. But it’s also tough to live with yourself when you know your work has no real value other than to make corporate executives and shareholders a little bit richer.

Random thoughts:

  • Of course, we have to talk about that cold open as we jump forward to Saul and Francesca cleaning out his office and Saul calling the vacuum cleaner guy for his extraction to Omaha. Like the Cinnabon scenes at the beginning of each season, it’s just a small reminder of where we’re headed. But what’s in the box Saul pulls out from behind the Constitution? Is that something we’re supposed to remember from Breaking Bad, or is it a new thing?
  • Speaking of Breaking Bad references, Saul’s “midnight madness” cell phone sale takes place at the Dog House, which was one of Jesse’s favorite places to sell meth (and it’s also a real Albuquerque establishment). I kept waiting for Jesse, Skinny Pete, or Badger to show up during the sales montage, but I didn’t recognize anyone from the Breaking Bad universe. If you did, please share in the comments section.
  • Gus Fring also speaks German. Truly a man of many talents.