"Bad Choice Road" is the ninth episode of the fifth season of Better Call Saul and the forty-ninth episode of the series altogether.

Summary

Teaser

As Jimmy and Mike are continuing their journey back to Albuquerque through the desert, an anxious Kim waits in her apartment for any news about Jimmy's whereabouts. Eventually Jimmy and Mike reach an area where they finally catch a cell phone signal. Jimmy immediately calls Kim and assures her that he is safe. Kim breaks down after receiving the good news.

Act I

At a rural truck stop, Jimmy and Mike, having changed their clothes, are picked up by Tyrus and Victor in an SUV. On the drive back into town, Tyrus and Victor explain that Gus has sent men to clean up the site of the gunfight, but that Jimmy's wrecked Suzuki could not be located. Mike instructs an exhausted Jimmy to practice a script to explain why the money pickup took thirty-six hours instead of a single afternoon. Jimmy, visibly disheveled, totes two duffel bags carrying a total of $7 million in cash into a bail office and posts Lalo's bail. As the bail office staff count the money, the prosecutors handling Lalo's case confront Jimmy and demand to know where all the money came from, but Jimmy refuses to give an answer.

That night, Lalo is released and greets Jimmy outside of the Metropolitan Detention Center. Sticking to his script, Jimmy lies to Lalo and claims he was delayed because of car trouble near the pickup site and walked alone cross-country to not risk losing the money. Lalo dismisses Jimmy's concerns about the suspicious prosecutors, stating that he will have returned to Mexico by the time authorities discover his identity as "Jorge de Guzman" is fake. Lalo commends Jimmy for performing his job well and tells him that they will do "big things" together now that he is a friend of the cartel. Before he is picked up, Lalo unsettles Jimmy by casually revealing that Kim visited him in jail in Jimmy's absence.

When Jimmy returns to the apartment, Kim tends to his sunburn and bruises while he tells her his scripted story. After she draws him an oatmeal bath, Jimmy confronts Kim about visiting Lalo and sternly warns her to stay away from him. He admits that he feared for his life when he was stranded in the desert and that knowing Kim was safe was the only things that kept him moving forward; Kim promises to never see Lalo again. When Kim asks Jimmy why he went through all the trouble to collect the bail money, Jimmy tells her to look in a duffel bag containing the $100,000 payout he just earned. Unbeknownst to Jimmy, Kim discovers his bullet-pierced travel mug and realizes that he is lying.

Act II

At Los Pollos Hermanos, Mike informs Gus about what happened in the desert. After Mike draws a picture of a tattoo that the gunmen wore, Gus realizes they were hired by Juan Bolsa. Gus phones Bolsa at his hacienda and gives him the news that Lalo will soon be returning to Mexico. Gus realizes, and explains to Mike, that Bolsa organized the attack on Jimmy in order to protect Gus' business, and by extension Bolsa's own business. Gus assures Mike that Bolsa will not be a problem, but warns him that their actions must be unimpeachable with the cartel going forward. Before he leaves, Mike tries to argue that Nacho be allowed to stop working as Gus' double agent, reasoning that Nacho has served his purpose and expressing opposition to threatening his father. However, Gus tells Mike that he does not want to give up an asset and that Nacho must be kept under control as he is prone to betrayal. Later that night, Nacho phones one of Gus' underlings and gives an update about Lalo's status; when he alludes to his work for Gus being over, the underling tells him to "just do what you're told."

The following morning, Kim fixes Jimmy breakfast and tells him that she has called in sick in order to help him convalesce at home. Still suffering from trauma, Jimmy becomes agitated when Kim puts peeled oranges through a blender and spills his cereal. Later, as Jimmy sits at the couch with his feet in a pan of water, he and Kim begin watching a movie together. Jimmy, however, remains restless. Soon he receives a call on his cell phone from a client; he initially turns him away but is quickly persuaded to end the convalescence early to deal with a matter concerning a plea deal. Trying to reach out to Jimmy, Kim plainly states that she knows he is lying about what happened in the desert and tells him she will be ready and non-judgmental when he decides to tell her the truth. Jimmy deflects Kim's probing by admitting that he was forced to drink his own urine on the journey back home. Jimmy insists that he is okay and that he doesn't want to talk about the matter again.

Kim goes to Schweikart and Cokely and tries to dictate a letter concerning Mesa Verde-related business, but finds herself too distracted to continue. Instead, Kim approaches Rich. Speaking with him in his office in private, Kim announces that she is quitting Schweikart and Cokely and will hand over the Mesa Verde account to the firm, keeping her pro bono clients. Before she departs, Kim retrieves the tequila bottle stopper from her office.

Act III

At Casa Tranquila, Lalo tells Hector that he plans on hiding out in Mexico for up to a year until the police are no longer looking for him, and that Nacho will be overseeing the Salamanca operation until Tuco is released from prison in eleven months' time. He also assures Hector that his departure will not be the end of the Salamancas' power play against Gus, planning to use with influence with Don Eladio to turn the cartel boss against the "Chicken Man". As he leaves Casa Tranquila, Lalo looks back with pity as Hector is made to attend another convalescent's birthday party. Outside, Lalo tells Nacho to drive him to the border. Victor watches the two as they drive away.

At the courthouse, Jimmy loses a case against DDA Bill Oakley, who relentlessly gloats about his victory. Outside, Jimmy is picked up by Mike in his car and tries to talk to him about his ongoing post-traumatic condition. Jimmy asks when his symptoms will cease, to which Mike replies that it varies by person; the only way one knows that it's abated is when they go about their daily routine not thinking about it. Mike also states that he isn't bothered by having to kill the gunmen in the desert, since it was a life-or-death situation and they were in "the game". Jimmy expresses disgust that he and Mike helped Lalo, who they both knew had killed a civilian who was not involved in criminality, and allowed him to get away. Mike cryptically says that that is "not the end of the story", leading Jimmy to assume that Mike is going to do something to him. Mike tells Jimmy that they choices both men have made have put them on the road to where they are right now, and that nothing can be done about it. Jimmy is unsatisfied with what Mike says and ends their meeting.

At the Mexican border, Lalo has Nacho drive him to the pickup site where Jimmy received the bail money, where both men are expecting a rendezvous with the Cousins. However, at the last minute, something crosses Lalo's mind and causes him to ask Nacho to drive him several miles back from the pickup site. Lalo tells Nacho that he is searching for Jimmy's car, seeking to corroborate what Jimmy had told him about the car breaking down. Lalo soon finds the car in the ravine where it was dumped, and notices that it is pocked by bullet holes. Realizing that Jimmy had lied to him, Lalo asks Nacho to drive him back to Albuquerque.

Act IV

While Jimmy and Kim argue about her leaving S&C, Jimmy begins receiving several phone calls which he declines out of frustration. Kim goes to the door to answer someone knocking, allowing Jimmy to pick up the call. The caller turns out to be Mike, who tells Jimmy to leave his phone on but hidden so he can listen. The visitor at the door, turns out to be Lalo, who enters the apartment and asks Jimmy repeat the story he told him about his desert trek. Outside, Mike has sniper rifle trained on the room from a nearby roof. Lalo reveals he found bullet holes in Jimmy's car. Kim tells Lalo that passersby probably shot at the car for fun and berates him for not trusting Jimmy. Lalo seems satisfied and departs. He tells Nacho to drive to Mexico, but not the original pickup site.

Trivia

Storyboard of the episode: Thomas Schnauz masked a deleted scene with Nacho and Lalo in Act 2, some elements of which could be reused in a future episode of season 6.

  • This episode is the highest rated of the show on IMDB, along with Bagman. It has an outstanding score of 9.8/10.
  • With a duration of 59 minutes, this episode is the third longest of Better Call Saul, as well as the third longest in the Breaking Bad universe. The two longest, at 60 minutes, are "Winner" and "Something Unforgivable", the final episodes of seasons 4 and 5 of Better Call Saul respectively.
  • The name of the episode comes from Mike's speech about the choices he and Jimmy make leading them down a road of good or bad decisions. Saul uses the same speech later to describe Kim resigning from her job at Schweikart and Cokely, along her duties with Mesa Verde, albeit in a much more slipshod, unconvincing and less wise manner than Mike; owing to Kim's discontent and agape response.
    • It also evokes Western genre tropes, as well as Lil Nas X's 2019 country music song "Bad Choice Road," according to the Better Call Saul Insider Podcast.
  • It's revealed that Tiburón and the gangsters from "Bagman" were part of a Colombian gang hired by Juan Bolsa to protect Gus' interests and thus the cartel's. Gus' men are able to recover most of the bodies, but can't find Tiburón's since he died in the middle of nowhere.
  • The Cousins included an extra $100,000 in the money bags to pay for Saul's services at Lalo's request, making the exact amount that Saul carried across the desert $7,100,000.
  • Saul displays signs of PTSD following his misadventure in the desert.
  • Mike tells Gus that fear isn't a good motivator while discussing Nacho's case. This is a reference to the Breaking Bad episode "Green Light", where it is Gus who ironically tells Mike the same thing when discussing the situations regarding Walter and the Cousins.
  • Gabriel Nunez was the stunt double who made Lalo's jump on top of Jimmy's car. He previously played the role of Lalo's cousin, Joaquin Salamanca, in the Breaking Bad episode "Salud".
  • While discussing with Mike, Jimmy says "I can't believe there's, like, over a billion people on this planet, and the only person I have to talk about this to is you". In the French dubbed version, the sentence has been translated as "There is more than 7 billion humans on this damn planet, and the only person I can talk with about this is you". This translation is a mistake, as the plot of the episode is situated in 2004, when the global population was estimated as a bit more than 6.4 billion people.
  • After Jimmy exits Mike's car, two skateboarders can be seen crossing the street in the background. This is likely an allusion to Lars and Cal Lindholm, the two low-level scam artists that were part of the failed hit-and-run con from the Season 1 episodes "Uno" and "Mijo". This incident is what got Jimmy his "start on the bad road" with the criminal underworld after Tuco Salamanca was inadvertently brought into the situation.
  • Jimmy analogizes Kim leaving Mesa Verde to 'leaving the Yankees to play amateur ring toss'. This mirrors Walt's analogy of Declan's meth quality to his as 'grade school T Ball vs the New York Yankees' in the Breaking Bad episode "Say My Name". Both analogies embody self-grandeur over knowledge of a profession, perhaps illustrating that Jimmy is at a similar point in Saul Goodman transformation in this episode, as Walter White is in his Heisenberg transformation in "Say My Name".
  • The band Lola Marsh recorded a new version of the song "Something Stupid" that was made specifically for the teaser. Their original version was used in the teaser of the episode "Something Stupid".
    • This was otherwise the only licensed music used in the entire episode, the fewest of Season 5.

Production

Credits

Featured Music

  • "Something Stupid" by Lola Marsh

Memorable Quotes

"What kind of operation are you running, anyway? Tell me. Because I think I know why you sent him to do this job. It's obvious. You have no one else you can trust... right? So you sent some lawyer through the desert with your... with your seven million bucks? That... I... no offense, but you need to get your house in order! [...] Yeah, really! If you don't trust your men with your money, you have bigger problems than if you trust Saul Goodman. And for the record, he doesn't lie. Not to me, not to his clients. He's telling you the truth. But next time you have a bunch of money, and no one you can trust, leave him out of it, okay? Try a wire transfer, try a shell company or... you've heard of the Cayman Islands, right? Jesus, get your shit together and stop torturing the one man who went through hell to save your ass."
―Kim berating Lalo for mistreating Jimmy as his lawyer.


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