Better Call Saul recap, ‘50% Off’: Everything that happened in season 5, episode 2

An intriguing episode starts to pull together some of the series’ disparate storylines

Louis Chilton
Tuesday 25 February 2020 14:46
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Better Call Saul: season 5 release date - teaser

In the fifth season premiere of Better Call Saul, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) finally assumed the identity of Saul Goodman, disreputable lawyer-to-the-guilty. In the solid but disjointed episode two, entitled “50% Off”, he started putting the name into practice.

Jimmy’s promise of half-price rates seemed to have the desired effect, and the episode begins with a pair of meth users interpreting the Saul Goodman discount as carte blanche to get up to no good. This is, of course, pretty much exactly what Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) said would happen.

Meanwhile, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) is enjoying a taste of the quiet life after parting ways with Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Well, enjoying might not really be the right word, as a peaceful day looking after his granddaughter quickly turns sour at the mention of his late son. It’s funny seeing Mike referred to – with all the naivete of youth – as a “policeman”, when we know him only as a homicidal henchman (however sympathetic).

The drug cartel plotline also heated up, with Gus ordering Nacho (Michael Mando) to get close to the dangerous Lalo (Tony Dalton), threatening to kill his father if he doesn’t. A drugs bust provides Nacho the perfect opportunity to prove himself – but his friend Domingo (Max Arciniega) is left in handcuffs. So, finally, Nacho decides to call Saul.

Here are more talking points from the episode.

Lalo knows about the meth superlab

Breaking Bad fan favourite Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) made his first appearance of the season, as he was visited by his confidante, Lalo. In a candid, ominous exchange, Lalo reveals that he harbours (correct) suspicions about the true nature of Fring’s construction project, speculating that he could be building a lab.

The Lalo-Fring conflict looks to be one of the main threads at play this season – already we can see his Chilean nemesis has wasted no time in preparing an attack. The scene in which Gus, framed in the reflection of a car’s rear-view mirror, pressures Nacho into co-operating with him will seem familiar to Breaking Bad viewers – it’s staged very similarly to that series’ scene where Jessie (Aaron Paul) is trapped in a car and forced to watch the murder of his girlfriend. The parallels are clear: this threat is all too real.

It looks like “Krazy-8” is about to become Jimmy’s client

Like a drug-fueled Rube Goldberg machine, Jimmy’s half-price legal discount kicks off a chain of events that leads to Domingo (known as “Krazy-8” by the time of Breaking Bad) getting busted by the police for drug dealing, courtesy of a broken drainpipe.

Lalo drops a hint that Domingo might not be willing to do the jail time (he doesn’t miss a trick, the Salamanca poker ace – we know from Breaking Bad that “Krazy-8” later becomes a DEA informant). Eager to keep ingratiating himself with his boss, Nacho fearfully offers to have his friend killed.

To his visible relief, however, Lalo declines, leaving Nacho with the task of saving Domingo’s hide some other way – so he pays a visit to his old acquaintance, Jimmy McGill. The machine has come full circle.

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Saul might be speedy – but it’s hardly justice

Now fully committing to his sleazy alter-ego, Jimmy answers his phone promising “speedy justice for you”. And he stays true to his word – which means everyone else must as well.

For one unlucky prosecutor, this involves a quickfire sentencing pow-wow, in which Jimmy can dispense with a whole roster of cases (the start of the episode reveals he’s taken on a staggering 45 at once). She refuses, but doesn’t bank on Jimmy bribing an elevator mechanic to trap the pair of them in a confined space together.

Careering through his cases, Jimmy has clearly decided not to care too much about his clients. He schmoozes and finagles as much as he can bother, but ultimately won’t afford each case more than a few seconds of his time. This is fast food legal representation, and Saul Goodman is the new Ronald McDonald in town.

Jimmy and Kim are doing ok again – sort of

In the previous episode, “Magic Man”, Jimmy and Kim Wexler had clashed over their professional ethics (or lack thereof). “50% Off” served as a nice reminder of why they are together in the first place.

Their day begins frostily, with Kim brushing off Jimmy’s offer of an evening of “scampi and Scorsese”. But as Kim leaves for work, Jimmy takes her to look around a house, floating the possibility of moving to a bigger home: a fresh start. They joke around, and you can see Kim start to forgive him.

“Maybe someday”, she says, sounding hopeful but decidedly ambiguous. It’s going to take more than a morning of banter and dreaming to fix what’s truly the matter with their relationship.

Better Call Saul is released on Netflix UK weekly.

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