Recap of Better Call Saul: Gene goes back to being Saul for one last con.
What’s next for Better Call Saul after last week’s episode that changed everything? Back to Omaha in black and white, it seems.
Monday’s episode was all about Gene Takavic, and it finally told us what happened to Saul after the end of Breaking Bad. Gene was being followed by a mysterious man named Jeff the last time we saw him (in the Season 5 premiere), but he told the cleaner, Ed Galbraith, that he would “fix it himself.” Now we see what that looks like: Gene finds Jeff’s old mom Marion (hi, Carol Burnett!) and makes up a story about his missing dog Nippy to make her like him. (He also cuts a wire in her motorized scooter behind her back so he has to help her get home.) When Jeff gets home from work, he finds Gene and Marion laughing it up in their kitchen. Gene gives a smug look to a confused Jeff.
When they are alone, Jeff tells Gene, “All I have to do is pick up the phone, and Saul Goodman is out of the picture.” Gene, on the other hand, has a better plan. He knows that all Jeff wants is a bigger piece of the pie, so he promises to give it to him. He tells Jeff, “Here’s the deal: I’ll show you the game, and then we’re done,” and a new scam is born. (To finish the change, Gene goes home and puts on his Saul Goodman pinkie ring.) Gene starts bringing a couple of extra Cinnabons to the mall’s security office, where the head security guard Frank (hi, Parks and Recreation’s Jim O’Heir!) happily eats them with his back to the monitors. Gene keeps track of how long it takes Frank to eat his bun each time, and he also counts his steps as he walks through Lancaster’s in the mall. What’s this person doing?
We find out when Gene builds an exact copy of the store in a snowy field and trains Jeff to steal the most expensive things while Frank eats his Cinnabon, which takes more than three minutes. Gene tells Jeff to just take three of each item. That way, they won’t notice until they do inventory in three days, which is after the security tapes have been covered. Jeff isn’t sure about the plan because he thinks it sounds crazy. So, Gene brings up Walter White’s story: “I’ll tell you something crazy: a fifty-year-old chemistry teacher walks into my office. He doesn’t have enough money to pay his own mortgage. After a year, he has enough money to buy a Volkswagen with it. “That’s nuts.” That should be enough to get Jeff to jump in.
The Lancaster’s manager, Kathy, is doing a morning walkthrough when a huge wooden crate is brought in. This stops her in her tracks. She didn’t ask for it, so she calls Gene, who is the delivery guy’s boss, to complain. Gene tells a long story about how long it will take him to come to get it, so Kathy reluctantly agrees to keep the crate there overnight. Now that everything is ready, Gene sends Jeff a text message when Frank eats his Cinnabon that night like he always does. Jeff jumps out of the box and runs through the store, just like they practiced, grabbing Armani suits and Air Jordans. Gene looks over Frank’s shoulder as Frank talks incoherently about Nebraska football, and everything goes as planned… Until Jeff runs into the spot where the scuff had been cleaned, trips, and knocks himself out. Uh-oh.
Jeff is lying still on the tile, and Gene can only watch in horror as Frank eats his Cinnabon. He starts to face the cameras again, but Gene stops him by crying out that he doesn’t know what to do with his life. Frank goes home to his wife, but he says, “I’ve got no one. My parents are dead. My brother has passed on. I don’t have a wife. No kids. No friends. No one would care if I died tonight.” (Wow, this is hard to hear because I know it’s true for Jimmy after what happened to Chuck and Kim.) Frank comforts him warmly, which gives Jeff time to get up and stumble out of the frame before Frank goes back to work. Whew. The next morning, Jeff sneaks out of the store after spending the night in the bathroom. A delivery person picks up the crate, which is now full of expensive items.
Jeff and his friend laugh about their new wealth when they get back to Jeff’s garage, but Gene isn’t laughing. He tells them that if they get caught, they could go to prison for many years, and if they turn on him, he’ll tell on them. “There’s no need to scare us. Jeff says, “We’re all friends here,” but Gene says, “I’m not your friend.” He tells them not to do this again and to stay out of his life from now on. He tells Jeff to say, “We’re done.” Marion almost catches them, but they pretend to be working on Jeff’s car, and Gene helps Marion with her groceries. Marion tells Gene that Jeff got in with a bad crowd in Albuquerque, but she’s glad Gene is a good influence. When she asks about Nippy, Gene says, “After everything, a happy ending.”
Gene goes back to work at Cinnabon, and he seems more sure of himself than he ever has. He goes to a department store during his lunch break to look at a brightly colored shirt and tie that Saul Goodman would love. He holds it up to the mirror so he can see it… Eventually, though, he put it back and left.