After last week’s long-awaited segue into the world of “Breaking Bad,” fans of “Better Call Saul” are in store for an epic conclusion to the six-season arc of Jimmy McGill. Circa 2004, we left off with Kim breaking things off with Jimmy, followed by an abrupt transition into Jimmy’s new life as Saul, presumably several years later. With four episodes left, we’re about to get into the weeds of Jimmy’s new life, and perhaps see where Kim’s abrupt decision to leave has left her.
In addition, we can’t forget that we still have the story of Gene Takavic, Jimmy’s future Cinnabon alter ego, to conclude.
The last we saw of Gene was at the beginning of season 5, when he gets recognized near his workplace by an Omaha cab driver who used to live in Albuquerque. Jimmy then calls disappearer Ed Galbraith (portrayed by the late Robert Forster), requesting an escape. However, he changes his mind mid-call, telling Galbraith, “I’m gonna fix it myself.” What Gene has in store for cab driver Jeff – and what fate has in store for Gene – will only be revealed in the last few episodes of “Saul.”
That being said, let’s get into the fourth-to-final episode of the series, titled simply “Nippy” (the first episode of the season to consist simply of one word).
Season 6, Episode 10: ‘Nippy’
We’re back to the future, as we see an old lady in a wheelchair by the name of Marion (Carol Burnett) reaching for a can of soup with a grabber tool in black-and-white. Outside, her wheelchair gets stuck in the snow, and she refuses help from a certain Gene Takavic, posting notices for his “lost dog,” “Nippy.” Marion, moved by Gene’s story of his beloved canine, who apparently jumped out a moving car window, finally accepts his offer for help. “Gene,” however, clips her chair’s wires, essentially breaking it, and forcing him to push her home. Whatever the hell Gene has in store, we’re about to find out.
Oh, and our theme song is cut short to showcase an old-school (circa 2004?) blue screen with white text, signifying a missing signal. Again, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould at work.
Jimmy’s plans for Jeff (note: portrayed by a new actor, as the old one – Don Harvey – was filming “We Own This City” during production). Marion is Jeff’s mother, and Jimmy has infiltrated his house and pretends, naturally, to have never met Jeff, à la Gus Fring in “Breaking Bad.”
Outside, away from Marion, Jeff – who knows of Jimmy’s identity as Saul Goodman – confronts Jimmy and threatens with exposing him, while Jimmy offers him a better offer: he will show Jeff, who is clearly, as shown in season 5, a big fan of “Saul’s,” the “inside” of the game. Jeff smiles at this offer.
Back at his place, Jimmy rummages through some old boxes, and finds his old ring – that which belonged to Marco, Jimmy’s old scamming buddy back during his Illinois days who died of a heart attack during one of their scams. He places on his ring finger before turning off the radio and heading to bed. Clearly, Jimmy isn’t ready to leave Saul behind entirely just yet.
At work, while closing up shop, Gene knocks up security’s door, evidently to “thank” the security guard who called the EMTs on him a while back. The other security guard on duty, Frank, calls him over due to the wafting smell of warm Cinnabons his way. Frank eats right out of Jimmy’s hand (quite literally), as he chows down his Cinnabon, chatting a careless Jimmy up about sports, while Jimmy eyes the security footage behind him. All the while, Jimmy is timing it.
This has now become a routine; one which Jimmy has committed to doing every night. In the end, it becomes clear that Jimmy is mapping out a plan…specifically, he is mapping out the mall to see where there are blind spots…and what he can get away with. For some reason, he’s particularly concerned with a boutique clothing store.
The scene cuts to Gene setting up some kind of obstacle course outside, in the snow, for Jeff, who’s essentially practicing how to steal from the boutique without getting caught. During this conversation, Gene offhandedly mentions Walter White: “I’ll tell you what’s crazy,” he says. “50-year-old high school chemistry teacher comes into my office, the guy is so broke he can’t pay his own mortgage! One year later he’s got a pile of cash as big as a Volkswagen. That’s crazy.” Jeff, though hesitant, commits to the plan…whatever it may be, exactly.
We are introduced to Kathy, the no-nonsense manager of the boutique, who receives an unwanted delivery in the form of a large crate after hours. She calls the “delivery man’s” “supervisor:” Jimmy, who eventually convinces her to keep the crate on her floor overnight, under the condition he pick it up at 10:00 sharp the next morning.
This seems to be the night, as, after his nightly routine which ends in the security guard’s room, Jimmy gives Jeff the go ahead via text: it turns out it was Jeff, not the “industrial spray pumps” Kathy thought, stuffed in the box, and he executes the plan with perfect efficiency…until, that is, he trips and falls on his head in the middle of the hallway, spilling his stolen merchandise everywhere and knocking himself unconscious. Jimmy, panicked, quickly bursts into tears, expressing despondency at his lack of family and love life, all the while trying to eye the footage behind him, flustering security guard Frank. Jeff soon regains consciousness, picks up his merch and runs out the building, prompting “Gene” to finally wrap up his story and leave. He goes out into the hallway and nearly faints himself, but remains composed. No doubt he will have some words for Jeff the first chance he gets.
The following morning, Jeff comes out of hiding from the mall bathroom, and, while pretending to shop at the boutique, runs into Kathy, but tries to obscure his face. He makes it out of the store unscathed.
Back at Jeff’s place, while ogling over his newfound apparel, Jeff is interrupted by “Gene,” who steps in and makes it clear that if ever they were to be caught, their conspiracy makes for “mutually assured destruction” in the form of a hefty federal sentence. As a result, they are never to interact again. “I need you to say it,” Gene says. “We’re done.” Reluctantly, Jeff complies. They’re done.
Marion, however, makes an unexpected appearance, and asks Gene to come inside. There, she expresses her fondness for him, telling him how much of a positive impact he has had on Jeff, who “fell into a bad crowd” back in Albuquerque (“Albuquerque, huh?” replies Gene. “Never been.”) “You’re a good influence, Gene,” she says. Marion is also anxious to hear an update on Nippy, who Gene says was found by a family living only a few blocks away, safe and sound. “After all that,” he says, “a happy ending.”
Back at work, Jimmy decides to take a visit to the boutique while on a lunch break. Jimmy admires an ostentatious, paisley, very Saul Goodman-style suit – and considers it – but puts it back on the rack and heads out. He’s still not ready to bring back Saul into the world…yet.
“Better Call Saul” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMC. Three episodes remain before the series finale on Monday, August 15.