Better Call Saul returns tonight on AMC, and having already seen the season premiere, I can tell you that it is very good. I have no intentions of spoiling any of it for anyone. However, it’s been nearly 14 months since the third season finale of Saul aired, and even as someone who not only watches each episode multiple times but writes about the easter eggs and other details, it took me a few minutes to get up to speed on some of the bigger plot points in the season premiere.
Ahead of tonight’s season episode, here’s a few things you’ll need to remember as you’re watching (No Spoilers):
Why Did Chuck Commit Suicide? — Recall in the third season finale that Chuck kicked over a lantern and ended his life. His motivation for doing so will be explored some in the season premiere, but it’s useful to remember what led to that decision. Recall that, after having Jimmy suspended for a year, Chuck was doing fairly well despite his meltdown during the bar hearing. He’d seemingly moved past his electromagnetic hypersensitivity, was planning a BBQ with friends, and things seemed to be moving in the right direction. However, because of Chuck’s performance during the bar hearing and his electromagnetic hypersensitivity, the insurances premiums for his entire firm doubled.
Chuck insisted on suing the insurance company, while Howard insisted upon forcing Chuck’s retirement. Chuck extracted a $3 million payment out of Howard (the first of three, as part of his settlement), but Howard ultimately got his way: Chuck left the firm, and Howard pushed him out in a fairly emasculating manner. Soon thereafter, Jimmy came to visit Chuck, and while Chuck seemed fine, he delivered the most withering line of the series: “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but the truth is, you’ve never mattered all that much to me.”
Losing his career, and shitting on his brother apparently got under Chuck’s skin, because he relapsed, removed all of his electrical devices, smashed the circuit breaker, and eventually kicked over the lantern that would kill him.
Why Is Kim in a cast? — Recall that, after being overworked for weeks last season (working through the night and showering at the gym), Kim fell asleep at the wheel and crashed her car. After narrowly avoiding death, Kim decided to give up her practice and Jimmy became her caretaker as she embarked a new career of Blockbuster videos and nachos.
Why Is Mike Working for Madrigal? — Last season, Mike revealed to Gus that he had $200,000 that he needed to launder so that his daughter-in-law and granddaughter could use it. Gus agreed to launder the money in exchange for an unspecified favor. To make things legit and to avoid the notice of the Salamancas, Fring set Mike up with Lydia Rodarte-Quayle. Mike goes on Madrigal’s payroll as a “security consultant,” which is obviously a cover. However, as we see in the season premiere, Mike takes that job title very seriously.
What happened to Hector Salamanca? — Last season, Hector Salamanca tried to recruit Nacho’s father into their drug operation but decided that he could not trust Nacho’s father, which is basically as good as a death sentence. To prevent the death of his father, Nacho replaces Hector’s medicine with a placebo. In the season finale, Juan Bolsa — a higher-up in the Juarez drug cartel — tells Hector that all the drugs from Mexico have to travel through Gus Fring. Hector loses his temper and without his medicine, he suffers a stroke/heart attack. Gus, meanwhile, gives Nacho a look that basically says, “I know what you did.”
Why did Gene collapse at the Cinnabon? — We actually haven’t seen Gene (future Jimmy/Saul) since the season three premiere, when he narced on a shoplifter in an Omaha mall. He couldn’t help himself, however, and yelled out “Say nothing, you understand?! Get a lawyer!” to the teenage shoplifter as he was being led away by police. This came the season after Gene refused to open an emergency exit door at the mall for fear of calling attention to himself. He’s clearly terrified of having his cover blown, and the stress of being found out combined with the fact that his inner Saul wants to escape triggered a panic attack/heart attack on the floor of a Cinabbon. That’s where the season 4 premiere picks up.
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