We've bitten through to the flesh of Better Call Saul season 3 now, this week's episode having the intricate plot of a Breaking Bad season 4 episode, albeit one that unfolds at BCS' trademark measured pace.
Jimmy took a back seat this week as Gus Fring made a welcome arrival as one of the season's main characters, much of the episode being given over to his war with Hector Salamanca.
The cold open took place at a Mexican swimming pool familiar to Breaking Bad fans and saw the return on Don Eladio and his (eventually fatal) penchant for tequila. This wasn't the only nod to the future, the don being given a t-shirt with a Los Pollos Hermanos logo on the back - literally a marked man.
Upset that Gus was now far outstripping him in meth distribution, Hector made his presence felt at Los Pollos Hermanos, detaining staff and later trying to muscle in on Gus' operation (I loved the barely perceptible expression change from faintest flicker of a smile to steely deadpan from Fring as his rival walked out). Gus managed to explain away the situation to his staff with a non-sequitur, rousing speech about America, and set about plotting revenge on Hector. It was rare to see such a wicked smile from Gus, much less him swish throwing a tin foil ball into the trash, so we can expect major retribution; Hector's walking days are definitely numbered.
Mike meanwhile is straddling the Gus and Jimmy storylines, being sent around to Chuck's house, posing as a repairman and snapping photos of Chuck's house. He later passed these over to Jimmy along with a mysterious scrap of paper, noting that his favourite part of the job was actually fixing the door the repairman was supposed to.
"It was nice to fix something for once," he lamented, ever the despondent, morally-conflicted fixer who only ever breaks things.
The episode closed out with Mike returning his payment to Gus because of an unplanned death in the process. Gus respects Mike's cool-headedness, fastidiousness and the care he take in his job, but appears to have reservations about the fact Mike actually has scruples. As if challenging him, Gus told Mike he didn't let him kill Hector because "a bullet to the head would have been far too humane". Giancarlo Esposito has stolen the show this season and you yearn for more Gus-centric scenes - which is good as we seem to be getting them.
Better Call Saul likes to keep its cards close to its chest, but this week was particularly opaque. Kim may have cried "bingo!" just before the credits rolled, but her implied plan certainly wasn't as clear to viewers as it was to Jimmy. We know Chuck has the tape of Jimmy's confession "under lock and key", so did the scrap of paper Mike gave Jimmy bear the combination for Chuck's safe? Given Jimmy already broke into Chuck's house, would Chuck not see a safe theft coming? A more interesting question perhaps, is 'would Kim really get involved with such a straight-up law-breaking plan?' She doesn't seem the kind to break bad, but then neither did Skyler...
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