Better Call Saul S03E04 Recap: 'Sabrosito'

Ever since Mike got mixed up with Mexican drug cartels last season, and especially ever since it was clear that the show was on the path to introducing us to Gus Fring and his cohorts, it's been crystal clear that Better Call Saul had transformed itself into a tale of two shows. We've talked about it at length before. On one hand, you have the equivalent of a deep character study, following the path of one Jimmy McGill from eager-eyed lawyer to sardonic, morally bankrupt criminal lawyer, through a broken relationship with his asshole of a brother. On the other hand, Mike's arc represents the darker side of things, the seedy underbelly of Breaking Bad's drug world and how dangerous it could get. This dichotomy is in many ways the perfect prequel for a show like Breaking Bad, which was, among other things, about a two-faced man who could, in one moment, be a down-to-earth, mild-mannered high school teacher and cancer patient who just wanted to do right by his family, and in the very next moment a pork pie hat-donning super-criminal who could take down the very worst people that intimidate us on Better Call Saul.

Sometimes, these two sides of BCS's coin complement each perfectly. Mike and Jimmy are seemingly in two completely different worlds, doing different things to reach different ends, but what they do winds up being serendipitously in parallel. While "Sabrosito" probably felt the least like this standard episode of Better Call Saul, there was one particular moment that contextualizes this and almost comedically references the irony of how Mike and Jimmy wind up in the same place and business down the road.

The scene in question takes place in Chuck's house. After some sleuthing from Kim, Jimmy is able to replace the repairman Chuck hired to fix his door with Mike, repaying the favour he owed Jimmy for staking out Los Pollos Hermanos earlier in the season. Mike obliges and fixes Chuck's door, all the while gathering evidence for Jimmy in the form of pictures. He manages to do this by scaring Chuck into the other side of the house with a power drill, convincing him he needs to use it for the job despite Chuck's condition (of which, of course, he feigns ignorance). When Chuck is out of sight, Mike pulls the trigger on his weapon of choice enough to ensure that Chuck won't come back down for a while, lulling him into a false sense of security. What's funny is that this is exactly what Mike does in last week's episode, when he continuously shoots his rifle into the air in order to convince Hector's truck drivers that he's merely a distant hunter; so that they don't flinch when he shoots the shoe full of heroin onto the truck.

That's the perfect metaphor for the two shows that BCS can simultaneously be. When Mike is going toe-to-toe with the cartel, it's a high-caliber rifle and trucks full of drugs. When It's Jimmy and Chuck, it's a run-of-the-mill power drill which Chuck finds mildly annoying. Yet both of these stories wind up being equally compelling, in their own ways.

That being said, "Sabrosito" was probably the first time where that dichotomy was truly stretched to its limits. The show makes up for it with that aforementioned Mike connection and subtle self-aware nod, but contrast the first half-hour of the episode with the second. The first begins with a scene that feels more out of Breaking Bad than Better Call Saul, as Drug Cartel leaders Bolsa and Don Eladio make their debut in a meeting where they embarrass Hector through Gus' money. We then see Hector's operation stifled, which leads to Hector essentially taking a Los Pollos Hermanos hostage in order to get a meeting with Gus, where he tells him he needs to make room for his products in his trucks. Gus handles it like a champ, and then delivers a rousing speech to his spooked staff about the American Dream or whatever, but you can tell he's a bit shaken, and winds up going to Mike suggesting that down the road they work together. At least, it's a suggestion for now, even though Mike messing with Hector is what caused this mess in the first place.

All of this is really awesome, and Giancarlo Esposito brings something to BCS that it didn't have before in terms of presence. This is a show that's all about the performances, and Esposito's energy is completely different from that of any other actor on this show. He's maybe the only actor I know that's simultaneously endearing, comforting and also absolutely terrifying and menacing. It's a whole new angle to this idea of exploring Breaking Bad's Albuquerque before the days of Walter White, and it's very much appreciated. We obviously know how this story ends for Gus and everyone else involved, but there are dots left to trace, and so far it's been compelling.

Still, it's very obviously a distraction when all that connects the first half of the episode to the second is a gag about Mike pushing a much less intimidating trigger to distract someone. The second half of the episode continues Kim and Jimmy's long con on Chuck and Hamlin. Jimmy writes up a confession and concedes to some very minor points that Chuck asks for, and Chuck tells Kim that they're going full throttle on Jimmy' inevitable bar hearing. But that appears to be right where Kim and Jimmy want them.

That's about all the Jimmy portion of the episode has to offer, and while I'm usually good at this kind of thing, I struggle to find any other connection between each half. These are truly two different stories unfolding at this point, or maybe it's just that the Jimmy stuff needs more time, which allows us more room for Gus to deliver speeches and make up for the two seasons he wasn't around. And that's fine, because it's all as compelling as usual. Even the thin Jimmy stuff includes a great scene in the boardroom where Jimmy delivers his confession and a completely vapid apology to his brother. It's so obvious that neither are sorry for this situation. We hear it in Jimmy's confession and apology, just like we hear it in Chuck when he complains about the wording concerning the tape or an extra two dollars for damages. Obviously it's part of his game to get Jimm'y license strip, but it just makes him that much shittier of a person, and that's truly Chuck McGill's strength.

That being said, it's obvious that the mean on the bones of this episode involve Gus. And I said it was much needed, what with Gus only making his debut a couple of weeks ago, but I hope that the show finds more balance in the future between what appears to now be three main characters on three very different paths. "Sabrosito" gets 8.5 winking Greeks out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • Don Eladio and Bolsa are kind of Breaking Bad deep cuts, but the shot from inside Eladio's pool is instantly recognizable, one of the iconic shots from Gilligan's first series.
  • I kind of don't care that it distracts from the normal stuff on this show, but it's worth it for how Hector spends an entire scene wiping dog shit off his shoe onto Gus' desk.
  • My favourite little detail about the episode is Mike reading a Handyman magazine after he takes pleasure out of fixing Chuck's door.
  • Mike: "Nice to fix something for once."
  • GUS RE Hector: "A bullet to the head would have been far too humane."