Inevitability can be far more unsettling than possibility. When Asif Kapadia’s documentary Senna gets to that fateful race in Imola, each turn Ayrton’s Ferrari takes becomes harder to stomach than the last, a step closer to the one you know is coming, the one that will take his life. Better Call Saul trades on that horrible inevitability in season 4’s penultimate episode. Werner’s transgression in the bar last week had him marked as a man on thin ice, especially when Mike knows better than to keep anything secret from Gus Fring. So when one of the blasting charges fails to activate and Werner insists on being the one to go back down and inspect it, the awful feeling in the pit of your stomach just churns and churns, each clanging step on the metal staircase sounding like the tolls of a death march.
Vince Gilligan (in the director’s chair this week) stretches this unbearable sequence as far as he can, pulling Werner away to deal with his shaking hands, ratcheting it all up even further as he reconnects the wires. The bang is right there, you can hear it in your ears, feel the sickening jolt. But in the end, it never comes. Of course it doesn’t. Gilligan is that kind of instinctive storyteller who plays on our expectations and never even suggests there’s an alternative outcome… until there is. It’s a breathtaking piece of television and a further example of the mastery at work in Better Call Saul. It all looks so damn easy when it’s anything but.
Of course, one thing that is inevitable is that Werner is going to do something stupid. His loose lips in the bar last week showed that he doesn’t truly understand who he’s working for and absconding from the warehouse makes it almost certain that his end is coming and it’s not going to be a happy one. I’ve been wrong before, but it seems unlikely that Werner is riding off into the sunset with his beloved wife and their new puppy.
Gus, meanwhile, is tied up with the new and unwelcome presence of Lalo. The friendly chat between the two at Los Pollos Hermanos is a blatant façade on both sides, underlined by the violence and gleeful vindictiveness hinted at when Lalo reminisces with Hector about the vanquishing of an old foe. That little tale also gives us a nice bit of backstory for Hector’s bell, a sound that immediately becomes as much an irritant to the old folks at the home as it was to the rest of us during Breaking Bad.
This week is also Jimmy’s big hearing to get reinstated as a lawyer. He pretty much nails the hearing, but as soon as he passes up the opportunity to gush about Chuck, you know he’s made a grave mistake. Kim picks up on the mistake immediately too, which only aggravates Jimmy further, leading him to accuse her of kicking him when he’s down, of always seeing him as nothing more than Slipping Jimmy. He may as well be talking to Chuck here, his hurt and hurtful reaction betraying more about how Jimmy sees himself than how Kim, who rightly points out that she’s always had his back, sees him. I half expected this to be the final straw in their relationship, but Kim is more devoted than I’ve ever given her credit for. Whether she’ll still be that devoted after next week’s finale remains to be seen.