Writer’s note: This review contains spoilers
AMC’s Better Call Saul has its upcoming season 5 finale on Monday. This 10-episode season has arguably been the best season yet, and the tension of the show is boiling, as this season is starting to introduce the adjunction of the two separate worlds of BCS.
Episode 9, “Bad Choice Road,” features Kim Wexler and Jimmy McGill (Saul Goodman) becoming locked into this “game,” where they are now becoming intertwined with the other universe of BCS.
Becoming part of the “game” means becoming part of the drug world that Gus Fringe, Mike Ehrmantraut, Nacho Varga and the Salamanca family run.
For most of the show, the drug world and the court world have been very much separated, until Saul recently found himself getting forced into taking on Lalo Salamanca as one of his clients.
“Bad Choice Road” starts right where Episode 8, “Bagman” left off. It starts with Saul continuing his trek through the desert, as Sinatra’s “Something Stupid” plays in the background.
In the BCS series, this song has now been used twice- and each time it is used, it shows a split screen with Jimmy acting on one screen and Kim acting on the other.
The first time this song was used in season 4, it was showing the growing emotional distance between Kim and Jimmy.
However, when used during episode 9 of season 5, it is showing the great physical distance between the two, even though the emotional distance is very little.
The start of the episode finishes this grueling walk Jimmy and Mike take through the desert, and also includes Kim’s emotional release when Jimmy finally gets the cell-connection to call her and let her know he’s okay.
After this walk, Jimmy pays Lalo’s bail and completes his job. Yet, Lalo, the biggest wild card in the show, doesn’t cut Jimmy a break and asks him why it took so long for Jimmy to deliver the money.
Jimmy’s built-in story includes telling Lalo that he faced car troubles and had to walk back with the money. The episode follows with Kim taking care of a very sunburnt and tired Saul.
Even after Jimmy and Kim’s debacle where they decided they would only tell each other the truth, Jimmy still can’t bring himself to tell Kim what really happened, and decides to tell her the same version of the story he told Lalo.
However, Kim knows that something much worse happened, once she discovers a bullet hole in Jimmy’s “Second best lawyer cup.”
When Kim runs the orange machine for breakfast, Jimmy also has a moment where he knocks his cereal over and is clearly suffering from something triggered by the noises of this orange machine — yet another indicator to Kim that something serious happened to Jimmy.
Other significant events in the episode include Kim quitting her job at Schweikart and Cokely and Gus finding out that Juan Bolsa was responsible for the men sent to take the money from Jimmy. Kim quitting her job at S&C was predictable, yet still surprising.
Kim’s attempt at trying so hard to help Acker was not only to try and assist the grumpy old man but a subconscious attempt at trying to lose a job that she has grown to hate.
Kim was tired of the pointless work she was doing and was no longer on top of her game when it came to Mesa Verde. She had the full capabilities to be on the top of her game but just despised the work.
However, after the recent Wexler-miracle where she completely saved her relationship with Mesa Verde, it was hard to see this sudden quit coming so soon. The almost loss of Jimmy and the realization of priorities in her life likely prompted this sudden move by Kim.
When Gus is on the phone with Juan Bolsa, he discusses the fact that Lalo is going back South to Mexico. Bolsa is subtle on the phone, but Fringe can read a situation from a mile away.
Gus realizes that Bolsa tried to send men to prevent Jimmy from paying for Lalo’s bail. Bolsa doesn’t want Lalo to get out of New Mexico prison because he realizes that Lalo coming South is only going to cause problems for his own organization similar to how Lalo provided problems for Gus.
A relieved Nacho Varga believes he’s almost done with this life. He is in charge of making a few last stops with Lalo before dropping Lalo off to be taken back to Mexico.
The drop-off spot for Lalo is on the same path where Saul received the bail money. Right when Lalo is about to be picked up, he realizes he should’ve seen Jimmy’s broken down car on his way to his dropoff spot.
Lalo gets back in the car and decides to ditch his return to Mexico plan. He drives back up the road with Nacho and finds Jimmy’s car in a ditch. Superhuman-Esq, Lalo jumps into the ditch and onto Jimmy’s car. He finds bullet holes and realizes Jimmy lied to him.
The episode concludes with one of the tensest moments in the entire BCS series. It is a 16-minute scene, which feels like an eternity. The scene starts with a huge fight between Kim and Jimmy, with Jimmy being mad at Kim for quitting S&C. This is ironic, due to the fact that Jimmy quit almost every job he’s ever had.
Jimmy doesn’t want Kim to leave the court world and lectures her about going down a bad road, one that you can’t get off (A “bad choice road”).
Jimmy gets this lecture from a conversation with Mike earlier in the episode, where Mike tells Jimmy how hard it is to get out of the game once you are on this road. Jimmy doesn’t want Kim to become apart of the life he is on.
During the fight, Saul’s phone continues to ring, adding to the tension of the scene. When Saul answers the phone, it is Mike, telling Saul to leave his phone on and answer the door.
A smiling Lalo enters Kim and Jimmy’s apartment. To Jimmy’s dismay, Lalo doesn’t let Kim leave so that they can handle this alone. Lalo politely asks Jimmy to retell the story of his car breaking down multiple times. Jimmy sticks to his story each time.
All the while, Mike is on a rooftop across from Jimmy’s apartment, with a sniper on Lalo and an earpiece in, listening to the conversation.
Lalo, sitting on Jimmy’s couch, with a gun tucked into his pants, isn’t buying the story. He questions why there were bullet holes in Jimmy’s car and why the car was pushed into a ditch.
The situation tenses further and Kim steps in to save the day. She gets in Lalo’s face and makes up a fake story about kids shooting up the car for fun than pushing it into a ditch just for fun.
She questions Lalo’s authority and ponders why he can’t trust anybody besides a lawyer to carry 7 million dollars for him. Kim saves the day and Lalo leaves, returning to the car with Nacho.
Regardless or not if Lalo believed Kim, Lalo did realize he had bigger problems down South than dealing with Kim and Jimmy.
The episodes left with many questions that will be surely answered by the finale (and the next season of course). What will happen with/to the characters we don’t see in “Breaking Bad” (Lalo, Nacho, Kim?) Will we see Kim become a part of the game?
The final episode concluded with almost every major character on both sides of the BCS universe in very close vicinity (Kim, Jimmy, and Lalo in the apartment, Nacho in his car outside, and Mike on the roof across from them).
The two worlds are colliding fast and the finale will definitely feature more of this interaction between the two worlds of the BCS universe.