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"Winner" is the tenth episode of the fourth season of Better Call Saul, and the fortieth episode of the series altogether.

Summary

Teaser

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In a flashback to 1998, Jimmy appears with a group of other soon-to-be lawyers before a bar committee. Chuck speaks before the committee and vouches for his brother. That night, a party is held at a karaoke bar celebrating Jimmy's new career. While Ernesto performs, Jimmy convinces Chuck to come onstage and sing with him. As the McGills sing a duet of ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All", Chuck takes the microphone and steals the show while Jimmy sits in the background. Later, the two drunk brothers come to Jimmy's apartment, where Jimmy states his ambitions of joining HHM as a fellow named partner to Chuck. As the two brothers settle into bed and fall asleep, they finish singing the ABBA song.

Act I

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At Gus' warehouse, Mike rounds up his men and gives them orders to split up to hunt down Werner. As his men leave to search the state, he phones a TravelWire agent, Fred, and cons him into divulging where Werner's wife wired him money. He drives off to the TravelWire office.

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Meanwhile, to mark the one-year anniversary of Chuck's death, Jimmy stands at Chuck's grave bearing flowers and makes a show of seemingly grieving for his brother; other mourners show up and see him, assuming his grief is sincere. This is revealed to be part of a scheme by Kim to aid Jimmy in reinstating his law license, by making him appear to be more sympathetic towards Chuck than he did before his suspension was extended. Jimmy stands at the grave throughout the day, occasionally taking breaks between visitors so that Kim can supply him with water.

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Meanwhile, Lalo is on a hilltop overlooking Gus's chicken farm. He closely watches the goings-on through binoculars and jots down detailed notes. Lalo notices Gus and his men piling into their cars as they drive off to hunt down Werner. Realizing that something is up, he packs up his equipment and sets off to follow Mike.

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Mike reaches the TravelWire office and makes up a story to the clerk, Fred, that Werner is a cousin of his who is lost and suffering from dementia. Accepting Mike's story, Fred shows him security footage and transaction logs from Werner's visit, revealing that he has arranged to have his wife flown to Albuquerque from Germany. Victor appears outside and summons Mike outside to his Cadillac, to meet with a displeased Gus. Realizing that Gus intends to kill both Werner and his wife, Mike takes responsibility for Werner's actions and assures him there is a way he can mitigate the situation before the wife arrives. Returning to the TravelWire office, Mike contacts his men and has a transcript of Werner's phone call read back to him. Realizing where Werner is going, Mike collects some travel brochures and leaves. Outside, Lalo watches Mike drive off and follows him.

Act II

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Howard hosts the dedication of HHM's new law library, which has been named after Chuck; Jimmy, Kim, and Rich all attend. Howard is interviewed by Joey's film crew and says that HHM is making a comeback after a tough year, and that the library will become Chuck's lasting legacy. Kim and Joey's crew spread a rumor around the party that Jimmy anonymously donated the money used to build the library. Outside, Kim coaches Jimmy on how to continue the charade.

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As he drives to Werner's location, Mike notices Lalo tailing him. Taking out and chewing on some gum, Mike pulls into a parking lot and collects a ticket; Lalo follows him. After the two men park, Mike takes two foil gum wrappers and sticks them together. When another motorist approaches the tolling gate, Mike cuts him off, drives to the gate himself, and jams the ticket machine with the gum wrapper. Mike drives away while Lalo and the motorist are stuck at the gate. Desperate to catch up, Lalo rear-ends the motorist and plows both cars through the gate. However, Lalo angrily realizes that Mike has given him the slip.

Act III

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The following day, Jimmy, having been named as a member of HHM's scholarship committee in Chuck's will, joins Howard in attending a vote on which applicants will receive the scholarship. Jimmy emerges as the lone vote for Kristy Esposito, whom the other board members have voted down because of her prior record as a shoplifter. Reminded of how Chuck looked down on him over his own criminal past, Jimmy catches up with Kristy outside of the HHM building and gives her a life lesson: since the legal community will always treat her with disdain no matter how hard she tries to make up for her past, she will have to cut corners and break the rules when necessary if she wants to succeed as a lawyer. In the HHM parking garage, Jimmy breaks down and cries when his dilapidated Suzuki won't start.

Act IV

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Lalo visits the TravelWire office and tries to talk Fred into divulging the details of Mike's visit. Fred proves to be more suspicious of Lalo than he was of Mike, and refuses Lalo's demands. Undeterred, Lalo sneaks into the back office through the ceiling and busts his way through behind the front desk wielding a gun. After shooting Fred, Lalo looks through the security footage himself. Seeing Mike collecting the travel brochures, Lalo pieces together where he is heading.

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Meanwhile, Werner is lounging next to a pool at a hotel when he gets a page. He goes to a public phone and ends up talking to Lalo, who is posing as one of Gus's men. Mike manages to reach the hotel and cut the phone call short, but not before Werner unwittingly gives away details of the secret excavation to Lalo. Lalo taunts Mike before the latter hangs up the phone.

Act V

At Kim's apartment, she and Jimmy go over their strategy for his appeal hearing the following day. Jimmy suggests that he recite the letter Chuck left in his will during the hearing.

Meanwhile, Mike drives Werner to a remote location and phones Gus, telling him that someone was following him during his search; Gus informs Mike that he knows who it is. Mike tries one final time to persuade Gus to spare Werner's life, but he is resolute. Werner tries to talk his way out of the situation, but Mike tells him that, no matter what he says or does, no one will trust him again. Realizing what is about to happen, Werner takes Mike's offer of a cell phone and contacts his wife, forcing her to turn around and head back to Germany. After ensuring that she will be spared, Werner walks away, staring aimlessly into the night sky. Mike executes him with a bullet to the back of the head.

Act VI

The following day, Gus, Mike, and Gale visit the excavation underneath Lavanderia Brillante. Gale is excited at the prospect of cooking in what will become a meth superlab, but Gus stresses that he won't begin work until the lab is complete. After Gale leaves, Gus and Mike stare at each other in the darkness.

Jimmy and Kim arrive at the courthouse, where Jimmy is about to deliver his appeal before the bar committee. Outside the courtroom, Kim gives Jimmy some final words of encouragement, assuring him that she is still on his side. Sensing that the committee is inclined to rule against him, Jimmy flips the script and stops reading from Chuck's letter, instead improvising a speech about how Chuck influenced him to become a lawyer, but constantly withheld his approval. Jimmy promises to try to be a better person and "do everything in my power to be worthy of the name McGill" if the committee votes to reinstate his law license. Jimmy's speech moves Kim and a couple of the committee members to tears.

Outside the courtroom, Jimmy and Kim celebrate his imminent reinstatement. However, Kim's joy turns to confusion and horror as Jimmy reveals that his entire speech was a calculated performance meant to sway the "suckers" on the committee; he never meant one word of his comments about Chuck. Kim is further perturbed when Jimmy reveals that he no longer plans to practice law under his own name, contrary to his statement before the bar. As a clerk leads Jimmy into an office to sign some paperwork, Kim asks him what's going on. Jimmy turns back and replies: "S'all good, man!" Kim is left behind in stunned silence.

Official Photos

Trivia

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  • With a duration of 60 minutes, this is the longest episode of Better Call Saul so far, as well as the longest episode in the Breaking Bad universe. Until this episode, the longest episode was the Breaking Bad pilot (58 minutes).
  • This is the first BCS season finale that is not directed by one of the two showrunners, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould.
  • At the beginning of the episode, its been a year since the events of "Lantern" and "Smoke" when Chuck committed suicide.
  • Jimmy McGill’s personality death and transformation into Saul Goodman begins with his breakdown in his car, according to producers. His transformation is official with the reinstatement of his license and his decision to practice under a different name. This is teased at the end by his infamous line “It s’all good man.”
  • The camera angle that slowly pulls away above Chuck and Jimmy in one of the opening scenes has been used before in Breaking Bad. Many consider that camera effect to correlate with the death of someone of great importance to the series. In "Crawl Space", it marked the "death" of Walter White. In "Felina", it marked the death of Heisenberg. Here, it foreshadows the "death" of Jimmy McGill.
  • Kristy Esposito’s last name likely plays homage to the actor whom plays Gustavo Fring, Giancarlo Esposito.
  • Both Werner Ziegler’s last words as well as the night starry sky may indirectly reference some of Walt Whitman’s poems, whom Gale Boetticher is a fan of. Coincidentally, the very next scene shows Gale talking to Gus about cooking in the new superlab to be.
    • Gale is holding his infamous Lab Notes, the cover being visible when Gale exited the superlab site.
  • Mike's mercy killing of Werner bears similarities to that in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Over there, as Lennie faces certain death by Curly and his mob, his best friend George gets him to reminisce about their beautiful dream of owning their own farm and land. Whilst dreaming, George shoots Lennie at the back of his head, sparing him from Curly's mob. Similarly here, in order to prevent Werner's capture and likely brutal murder by Gus' men, Mike takes matters in his own hands by allowing Werner to walk towards and gaze into the beautiful starry night sky over New Mexico. Whilst Werner is mesmerized by the view, Mike silently follows him and shoots him in the head, sparing him from a worse fate by Gus' men.
  • Despite occurring in a linear fashion in the episode itself, the separate storylines with Jimmy and Mike do not appear to occur at the same time. For Mike, the episode takes place immediately following "Wiedersehen". However, for Jimmy and Kim, it appears to have been at least a week or so. When Jimmy is at the grave site, it has been a year since Chuck's suicide with the last episode occurring a year after Jimmy was suspended in "Sunk Costs". At least a couple of weeks appeared to have passed between Jimmy’s being suspended and Chuck’s committing suicide. Furthermore, enough time has passed for Jimmy and Kim to have filed an appeal on his license reinstatement issue, donated the Charles L. McGill Reading Room and set up the reception surrounding its opening.
  • The ABBA song "The Winner Takes It All" that Chuck and Jimmy sang together during the flashback contains lyrics that may have a connection between Jimmy and Chuck's rivalry for each other.
    • This song could be heard earlier in the season, during "Piñata", at CC Mobile: a pan flute version of the song plays in the background when Jimmy receives a phonecall about Mrs. Strauss' will.

Production

Credits

Co-Starring

Filming Locations

  • Trip Wire Money Order Services - Filmed in a store located at 3455 San Mateo Blvd. In the episode Cherokee Rd Stop Sign & the Oasis Vape store can be seen while Mike is standing out front of the store.
  • Los Pollos Hermanos Chicken Farm - Filmed at 9615 Broadway Blvd. The location no longer has the chicken houses on it. A google satellite image shows where these buildings used to stand.

Featured Music

  • "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler (sung karaoke by Ernesto at Jimmy's celebration party in a flashback)
  • "The Winner Takes It All" by Abba (sung karaoke by Jimmy and Chuck at Jimmy's celebration party in a flashback and while they are in bed together)

Memorable Quotes

"Hi. You didn't get it. You were never gonna get it. They... They dangle these things in front of you, they tell you you got a chance but, I'm sorry, it's a lie. Because they had already made up their mind and they knew what they were gonna do before you walked in the door. You made a mistake, and they are never forgetting it. As far as they're concerned, your mistake is just... It's who you are. And it's all you are. And I'm not just talking about the scholarship, I'm talking about everything. I mean, they'll smile at you, they'll pat you on the head but they are never ever letting you in. But listen, listen. It doesn't matter, it doesn't. Because you don't need them. I mean, they're not gonna give it to you, so what? You're gonna take it. You're gonna do whatever it takes, do you hear me? You're not gonna play by the rules. You're gonna go your own way, you're gonna do what they won't do. You're gonna be smart, you are gonna cut corners and you are gonna win. They're on the 35th floor? You're fonna be on the 50th floor. You're gonna be looking down on them. And the higher you rise, the more they're gonna hate you. Good! Good! You rub their noses in it! You make them suffer! Because you don't matter all that much to them, so what? So what? Screw them! Remember, the winner takes it all."
―Jimmy explaining to Kristy Esposito what she will have to face if she wants to become a lawyer based on his personal experience.

"There are so many stars visible in New Mexico. I will walk out there to get a better look."
―Werner Ziegler’s final words before his execution at the hands of Mike.

Kim: "I knew you could do it! I knew you had it in you!"
Jimmy: "That was so great!"
Kim: "I mean, yes! They–they have to reinstate you now! They just have to!"
Jimmy: "Uh, yeah! Did you see those suckers? [Kim is stunned] That one asshole was crying, he had actual tears! Jesus, Kim! Listen, I started reading the letter, and I just knew it wasn't... I could tell by their faces it wasn't gonna be enough, right? So I just went off on this flow, you know? I had this energy going through me. It was like improv or jazz and then boom! Sunk the hook in! "I'm so lucky I have this letter." God! I could see the Matrix, you know! I was invincible! I could dodge bullets, baby! And you were right, you were right – it was all about Chuck! The whole time!"
Clerk: "Oh, Mr. McGill, you're still here. There's some good news."
Jimmy: "Believe me, I already know."
Clerk: "Oh good. Then if you want to come with me to the office, there's some paperwork for you to sign."
Jimmy: "Absolutely! Let's do this thing! Oh, and sweetheart, I'm gonna need one more form: a DBA. Y'see, I'm not gonna be practicing under the name "McGill", so..."
Clerk: "Shouldn't be a problem. Just down the hall. We have all the forms."
Jimmy: "Great! Great!"
Kim: "W-w-wait, Jimmy, Jimmy–what?!"
Jimmy: "S'all good, man!"
―Jimmy and Kim after the bar committee.

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