Better Call Saul 509 – Bad Choice Road
Jimmy and Mike’s buddy road trip adventure gets a second episode as the pair continue to make their way across the desert in Bad Choice Road. The pre-credits sequence is pure genius contrasting Jimmy and Kim in two completely different worlds, yet connected by unplanned but synchronized movement. The newly minted married couple may walk similar paths but the circumstances they find themselves in are markedly dissimilar.
Jimmy and Mike have been through hell, literally and metaphorically and they have the sun scorched skin and parched lips to prove it. Jimmy and Mike are picked up by Gus’ men and given a ride back to town. Along the way Mike reminds Jimmy that he’s going to have to keep his story straight, and not for the authorities, but for Lalo. The comedy surrounding Jimmy paying $7 million to pay Lalo’s bail masks the danger that soon follows when he has to account for being so late all while keeping Mike’s aid under wraps. The scene takes a turn near the end when Lalo reveals that he met Kim and a cold shiver runs down McGill’s spine as he slowly comes to realize what this new development means.
What follows is perhaps the most poignant scene in the entire episode. Reunited with Kim, Jimmy recounts his escapades in the desert. Their heart to heart begins with promise as Kim dutifully takes care of Jimmy and preps him for a bath to help ease the discomfort of his sunburn. They take turns asking each other to fill in the blanks of their respective adventures and while Kim is straight with Jimmy, he doesn’t reciprocate. “Was it worth it?”, Kim’s probing line carries more weight than even she is aware. When Jimmy tries to prove that he made the right call by telling her to see how much money working for Lalo netted him, it’s not the cash that catches her eye. It’s the bullet hole through Jimmy’s #1 Lawyer cup that sends her thoughts racing.
The mystery behind the attack in the desert is quickly solved but that fact opens the door to a little bit of tension between Mike and Gus. Fully aware that the Salamanca brain trust was behind the tussle for Lalo’s bail money, Gus wants business to be run as smoothly as possible now that Lalo is heading south of the boarder. Mike’s plea for Gus to release Nacho from his duties is rejected. Gus’ decision to keep all of the chess pieces within reach doesn’t sit well with Mike but is yet another example of a string of bad decisions that are littered throughout Bad Choice Road. Gus, Jimmy, Kim, particularly Kim are all guilty of making decisions that to them seem right in the moment but are ill advised at best.
The final moments of Bad Choice Road is gripping. Lalo’s unexpected appearance at Kim and Jimmy’s place makes it feel as though time is at a standstill. As Lalo grills Jimmy, the look on Kim’s face speaks for almost everyone watching the drama unfold. The pre-credits sequence as well as a few choice words of wisdom from Mike come full circle. Rhea Seehorn commands the screen during Bad Choice Road’s conclusion and it’s the payoff for all of the interesting twists and turns the writers have put Kim through. It’s a satisfying end to an excellent episode, one that requires multiple viewings to truly appreciate it.