Better Call Saul 3.03: Sunk Costs
Just like Breaking Bad the landscapes and vistas of New Mexico are a character within the world of Better Call Saul. This week's episode entitled Sunk Costs directed by John Shiban and written by Gennifer Hutchison opens with static shots of the open desert of New Mexico giving an instant understanding and idea of where we are and how vast America can be.
A truck is seen from a distance, looking strikingly like a camper-van, getting the viewer excited to see if this is the cameo we have all been waiting for from Walter White, but no it isn't....yet. The van belongs to Los Hermanos Pollos and it stops near a telephone wire with shoes hanging above it. After the static, negative spaced shots of the episode opening we feel a rhythm as the episode continues as we see shots from underneath the chassis of the truck. You can almost feel the tension starting to build as the truck speeds on to its destination.
We find Mike alone on the New Mexico highway as he is phoned and advised that two cars will be with him momentarily. They arrive and we are greeted once again by Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Whereas last week's episode, in his first appearance on Better Call Saul, he was in the background and less like the Gus we know, this week he is back to his ominous and threatening best. It needs a well known character actor of the calibre of Giancarlo Esposito to pull off the character of Gus Fring. He is the character, anybody else would do a lesser job. Standing in the middle of the road, surrounded by his goons, he quietly sets out his points, without fanfare. His body language and tone of voice is enough to get across his point.
In the immediate aftermath of Jimmy's outburst at Chucks, we find Jimmy sitting on the curb casually smoking and waiting for the cops to turn up. Chuck is trying to reason with Jimmy about why he has called the cops. Whereas Chuck talks for five minutes and gets nowhere, Jimmy returns the favour and cuts Chuck down to size with a simple sentence or two about how Chuck will die alone if Jimmy goes to jail.
After the discussion on the bridge with Gus, Mike is going to mess with Hectors operation. After filling a trainer with a packet of cocaine and hanging it from the wire, he waits patiently with a sniper rifle overlooking the telephone wires. Another truck appears and two goons get out and plant some guns nearby in a hidden, buried box. At this point, Mike starts shooting in the air, initially startling the goons but they soon think that the shooting is nearby but not at them. Mike shoots the shoes spilling cocaine over the van as it pulls away. The van gets pulled over at the boarder and the goons are taken in. Mike is simply a genius.
As the episode ends we find Jimmy and Kim in silhouette outside of their law offices. Jimmy advises Kim of what Chuck wants in terms of the case . Essentially he has boxed Jimmy into a corner and wants his law license. Kim, after earlier being unsuccessful, pleads with Jimmy for her to help with his case. He agrees and while holding Kim's hand, proclaims that he is going to shove Chuck's plans up his backside.
Better Call Saul is simply one of, if not, the best episodic television around at the moment. The narrative is drip fed to the viewer but feels fast paced. The direction in this weeks episode and last week's episode are well crafted and thought out. From inventive shots under vehicles to ratchet up tension to vast vista shots utilising negative space within the frame. It is exquisite craftsmanship and is utterly re watchable.