Better Call Saul: “Sabrosito” Season 3 Episode 4 Review

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Better Call Saul‘s crisis of identity this season, mostly brought on by Gus Fring’s arrival, has been something of a double-edged sword. In a lot of ways, the writers have been relying on old roots in a show that already proved it didn’t need them. But what roots! Going into “Sabrosito,” I was expecting some movement in Jimmy and Chuck’s legal war. But the first half not only included Breaking Bad elements, it just flat-out felt like an episode of it. And you know what? It was a damn good half episode of Breaking Bad too.

We open with Hector Salamanca making a monetary delivery to Don Eladio, the drug kingpin Gus would later poison in “Salud,” one of Breaking Bad‘s most exciting masterpieces. This is all still after Hector shot Gus’ partner Max, another plot point only the fans of the original series would remember, meaning their rivalry is very much in place. “Sabrosito” displays a few critical moves in that rivalry. Gus is outdoing Hector in every way, down to the way Don Eladio likes his straps of cashed wrapped. So Hector pays him a visit at Los Pollos Hermanos, which essentially turns into a siege. The standoff in the fast food restaurant is pure Breaking Bad, with its intimate, marginally comical setting weaving into its grandiose scale to create that authentic sense of dread that, were it not so tense, would be hilarious. Better Call Saul‘s version of this leans harder on the comedy and slight absurdism, which goes away as Giancarlo Esposito’s steely stare doesn’t break for even his most polite smile. There’s no question, director Thomas Schanuz, who did just one episode of Breaking Bad, was going for recreating that tone.

This isn’t a trick that’s always going to work on Saul, and should be used sparingly. But for extended openers like this, without interruptions from this show’s specific tone, more Breaking Bad would rarely be a bad thing. With Mike officially expressing interest in working for Gus, more is definitely in the show’s future.

All that said, the magnificent thing about “Sabrosito” is how seamlessly it shifts back into Saul‘s tone after spending a sizable chunk in Bad‘s. It’s probably the best example of an artful commercial break in some time. But returning to Jimmy and Kim’s preparations to go toe-to-toe with Chuck are vital to this season, and shouldn’t be ignored for an entire episode at this point.

Most prominently on display here is how Jimmy has gotten two loyal servants of the law to play dirty. Chuck and Kim had squeaky clean track records when this series started, but now both of their hands are dirty as they respectively try to take down and help save Jimmy. Kim even encourages Jimmy’s plan involving Mike, which involves Mike torturing Chuck with a power drill in the most blunt, deadpan Mike way possible. The pieces of what Mike did haven’t quite come together yet for Jimmy’s defense, but this show has always been good about planning, meaning there will be a payoff.

The deposition itself works rather well, with Jimmy giving an apology that only Chuck and Kim likely believed to be fake. It’s insane to have Jimmy, Chuck, Kim, and Howard all in the same room together for the first time this season after so much has changed. This is now what’s come to. Thankfully, there’s still a whole lot of season three left to go for these new dynamics to be explored and then ruptured once again. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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