REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Something Unforgivable”

The following is a recap and review of the tenth and final episode of the fifth season of Better Call Saul, available on AMC in the U. S. and on Netflix internationally. Expect story spoilers.

In the season finale of the fifth season of Better Call Saul — titled Something Unforgivable — Jimmy McGill (played by Bob Odenkirk) tells the truth about what happened in the desert to Kim (played by Rhea Seehorn), in the aftermath of Lalo Salamanca’s surprise visit. Meanwhile, Nacho (played by Michael Mando) meets Don Eladio (played by Steven Bauer). Something Unforgivable was directed and co-written by series co-creator Peter Gould, and it was also co-written by Ariel Levine.

The fifth season of Better Call Saul had two relatively explosive episodes right after each other with Bagman and Bad Choice Road. Bagman was a Breaking Bad-esque trek through the desert, whereas Bad Choice Road was one of the tensest episodes of the series because of the sequence which featured the menacing surprise appearance from Lalo Salamanca in Jimmy and Kim’s apartment. Although it is true that the season finale in large part deals with the fallout from these events, the Nacho subplot provides us with explosive scenes in this episode.

In the episode’s cold open, we see Jimmy and Kim immediately after the end of the previous episode. They’ve been shocked into complete silence, as Kim looks through her apartment door’s peephole and then locks the door with the chain locks on the doorframe. Then she and Jimmy look outside the window to look as Lalo drives away. Their hearts are in their throats, as Jimmy picks up the phone to hear from Mike. They’re okay for now, but Kim obviously needs to be clued in on everything. This secret almost killed them. So, Jimmy comes clean about everything, seemingly. Naturally upset, this isn’t, however, the big unforgivable ‘something’ that the title references. Instead, they leave the apartment together, find a hotel room to stay in, and weather the storm of their complicated emotions.

I’m fascinated by the use of an extreme close-up of Kim peering through the peephole. It says a lot about what has happened, and it isn’t just that Kim is scared about whether or not Lalo comes back. The extreme close-up seems, to me, to suggest and illustrate that now Kim has peered through the peephole of Jimmy’s shady business and seen what is what. The big question now is how it makes her feel, which the episode gives us a great indication of a couple of times.

In the hotel room, there is a fascinating shot that sees Jimmy sitting on one of the two beds, while Kim is in the bathroom. They aren’t necessarily meant to sleep in the same bed, they are separated by this middle passage. In-story, it’s likely because the hotel only had that kind of room available — or because it was affordable. But symbolically it represents the divide between them, and whether or not they can unite after this. “Am I bad for you?” is a very telling quote from Jimmy. He knows the answer is yes, but Kim isn’t buying it. She suggests it was a one-time mistake, and Jimmy’s dejected “yeah,” isn’t fooling any of us watching.

Our Slippin’ Jimmy got into a big mess, and it will take quite a bit to stop from getting into another mess. Like Chuck would’ve perhaps said, it may just be who Jimmy is. I’ve no doubt that Kim is good for Jimmy, but his influence on her is questionable, and that thought sits with him as she gets into bed with him anyway, even though there was the opportunity to have separate beds. Kim is in it for the long haul, ready to get back to work almost as if nothing had happened. Or perhaps she just feels like having seen someone as scary as Lalo — and knowing he’s out there — makes her feel more prepared to face her days. Jimmy needs assurances of their safety before he can relax, and Mike is only willing to tell him that Lalo is going to meet his end that very day. Don’t be so sure.

While at work, Kim decides to take a lot of really hard felony cases, and she feels ready for them because of what she’s seen. She can throw herself into the pit knowing what’s in there. She’s seen through the peephole. This is exactly why Howard Hamlin’s attempt to tell her what Jimmy has been doing to Hamlin has no effect on her. It feels like nothing to her. That kind of tomfoolery is peanuts compared to what she has been up against. Sorry, Howard, you’re too late, and by making assumptions about who made her quit her old job he is making an ass out of himself. That is incredibly insulting to Kim, and it only sends her further down the path she was already walking on.

This is, at least to a certain extent, the episode where it looks like Kim is breaking bad. Frustrated with Hamlin’s comments, she tries to liven up Jimmy by suggesting other ways they can mess with Howard’s head to take him down a peg. It is pointless and it is juvenile, but it is what keeps them together. These kinds of fun conversations essentially were what got them hooked on each other. They get off on these little co-operative schemes, as the cut to them suddenly lying in bed together illustrates.

Their one-upping each other eventually leads to them cooking up a particularly juicy scheme — they need to make Hamlin look very bad (or to really mess up) so that the Sandpiper case ends the way Jimmy and Kim want it to end. It was just a silly idea at first, but it’s an idea that hooks Jimmy and Kim. Their payout could make their dreams come true, but it would mean an all-out war with Howard — an unforgivable act, as the title of the episode states. This season leaves Jimmy and Kim in their hotel room, as Jimmy contemplates whether they can actually do this. Because Kim is all-in, as her finger guns-approach seemed to indicate. The finger guns are of course a direct reference back to when Jimmy told Kim “it’s all good, man,” at the end of season four, and left her wondering what had happened. Now Kim has broken bad, and now they are in it together with mischievous, unforgivable plans.

Meanwhile, as Mike informs Gus, Lalo has taken Nacho with him back across the border. Mike is worried about Nacho, whereas Gus is only worried about not showing who he really is to Bolsa and Don Eladio. Mike had hoped he could get Nacho out of this swiftly, but Gus plans to use him a little bit longer and that is very troubling for our goodhearted Nacho who is in way too deep. And now he’s in the eye of the storm at Lalo’s most trusted home base. Both Fring and the Salamancas have big plans for Nacho, who just wants to get out in one piece. It’s tragic for Nacho in several ways. He’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, but, on top of that, he also knows that only Mike is looking out for him with Fring, whereas Lalo is clearly preparing him to be a part of his inner circle. They want him to take over operations for the Salamacas north of the border until Tuco gets out of prison, but, truthfully, he doesn’t want that.

There is no easy and safe path for him, and now he finds himself as a part of Fring’s plot to assassinate Lalo. Nacho does his part in Fring’s plan. He distracts Lalo and opens the gates to let his hired guns right in. This is another unforgivable act. It is a point of no return for Nacho, who now has to hope and pray that Mike can get him out because the men fail to take out Lalo, the unpredictable smiling antagonist, who you cannot take your eyes off for a second. The entire assassination attempt is a brilliant sequence that shows exactly how calculated and dangerous Lalo is. Lalo may have underestimated Nacho, but Fring underestimated Lalo.

This was an amazing way to end the season. Although the A-plot mostly deals with the aftermath of two significant previous episodes, it also sets up the sixth season in a way that is really interesting character-wise. Because now we have a definite understanding of how Kim sees her and Jimmy’s relationship. They are not about to call it quits, instead, they are in it together. All of these complex emotions in the aftermath of the Lalo Salamanca-surprise appearance at their apartment, are communicated in great ways through the way certain shots are framed, and I’ve tried to point out some of the noteworthy symbolism in the episode. At the same time, this episode also has a brilliant sequence that rivals any other attempt at action and suspense in the show. The sequence in which Lalo has to fight himself out of his home base is thrilling, to say the least. Thus another season of Better Call Saul ends with an amazing and unforgettable episode. As a fan of the show, though, you are shocked by the change in attitude from Kim, whose fate is now very much up in the air, and, now that Lalo has survived the assassination attempt, Nacho has a target on his back.

A

– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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