‘Better Call Saul’ Season 6, Episode 11 Recap: Back to the Beginning


Whatever she said during that call, it inspires Jimmy to start earning money, pronto. He makes amends, in his own blunt way, with Jeff and his buddy Buddy (Max Bickelhaup) and the three begin a new scam. Jimmy approaches men at bars and gets them soused; Jeff drives them home in a cab, offering a bottle of water spiked with barbiturates; then Buddy enters the home and photographs IDs, tax records and credit card bills, information which is sold to some kind of broker. It’s a three-man identity theft crime spree, and it yields stacks of $20s. That is far better than the Cinnabon money Gene earns but a fraction of the plaintiff’s attorney bucks he pocketed and off-shored as Saul.

Exactly why Jimmy-Gene feels so compelled to raise money quickly isn’t clear. He doesn’t seem to need the services of Ed Galbraith, a.k.a. the Disappearer, whom Gene called last season when he was first approached by Jeff. (At least he doesn’t need those services now. Firing Buddy over the morality of robbing a guy with cancer could prove his undoing if Buddy starts talking to the cops, or anyone else, for that matter.)

The episode ends with Saul walking in one door and Gene walking in another, events separated by years. Saul is paying a visit to Walt, a meeting we have already seen in “Breaking Bad.” Jimmy is entering the home of the mark with cancer. The confab with Walt, we know, eventually ends in calamity. We’ll see what happens to Gene in Omaha, but it’s a safe bet that Jeff is right when he says that the barbiturates have surely worn off.

  • From that conversation with Francesca, we learn the fate of some key characters from “Breaking Bad.” Skyler White cut a deal with the feds. Huell Babineaux lives in New Orleans, free largely because he was unlawfully detained by none other than Hank Schrader, fans will recall.

  • Saul is apparently a fan of “Frankenstein,” the 1931 movie by James Whale. He calls the R.V. “James Whale’s traveling road show,” a reference to the lab in the film. He calls Jesse “Igor,” who was Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant. And when he recommends the Swing Master to Mike — has there ever been a more useless looking device? — he says it will help him to stop walking “like Frankenstein after he was probed by aliens.”

  • We have to assume that Saul buried the money that he uses to pay Francesca for the reconnaissance phone call. He sounds relieved that it hasn’t been eaten by rats, suggesting it has been in situ for a while. And who else could have put it there?

“Better Call Saul” has always had something of a split personality. It has had the drugs-and-crime plot bequeathed to it, in reverse, by “Breaking Bad,” and it has told the story of Jimmy and his relationships with his brother and with Kim. The drug plot is largely physical, the relationships plot mostly interior. The previous two episodes have all but abandoned the cartel element of the story, perhaps because it was buried along with Lalo.

Where “Breaking Bad” kept getting bigger as the show progressed — it eventually included Mexican mobsters, neo-Nazis, a German conglomerate, federal agents, prosecutors and a story that purported to make national news — “Better Call Saul” is getting smaller. It has shed old story lines to create new ones that are modest in scale. Our main character is back in bars, where he started.