‘Better Call Saul’ Season 5 Episode 5 Recap: Where Does Anyone Stand?

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut - Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television
There’s a downside to a show as patient as  Better Call Saul. For all the deserved praise it gets for letting its moments breathe, and pacing its stories perfectly for maximum effect, that all takes time. It doesn’t have room to fit every ongoing story into every episode and, unlike a lot of other shows, it doesn’t try. That means we often go a couple weeks without any updates from characters we care about. Normally, that would be fine, but every story on  Better Call Saul  is really good. I’m dying to know what’s happening between Nacho, Lalo, and Gus after the DEA set up. I imagine things are pretty tense. We didn’t get that this week though, and the episode was still good enough that it didn’t matter.
While we didn’t spend much time with the cartels, we finally got a few nice long scenes with Mike Ehermantraut. He hasn’t gotten to do much this season. We saw him blow up at his granddaughter after she brought up his son, then get drunk and walk around looking for a fight. Last week, that caught up to him as one of the gang members he tried to fight stabbed him in the side. He ended up in a small house in Mexico. This week’s episode picks up right after that moment. The only person he sees is an old woman preparing food for him. She either doesn’t understand or doesn’t respond when he asks why Fring brought him there. He also can’t make any calls home. The phone only makes local calls.

Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo “Gus” Fring – Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Mike tries to leave by himself, but the doctor catches him at the bus stop. He takes Mike back to the house, re-stitches up his wound and gives him medicine. Other than what he prescribes, no drugs are kept here. The only clue about why this place is set up is on the side of the fountain at its center. “Dedicado a Max,” it reads, which is also the title of this episode. We only ever saw Max way back in Season 4 of  Breaking Bad.  He was Gus’ partner. Hector Salamanca killed him, forcing Gus to watch, for trying to incorporate their meth into Don Eladio’s cocaine business. As we saw in that show, the act fueled a years-long revenge plot that, at this point in the timeline, is still ongoing. Gus’ current war with Hector stems from Max’s death. But Max’s death didn’t just lead to violence and poisonings. It also led Gus to create an idyllic remote village, untouched by his drug war. The residents of this place don’t even know Gus owns it. To them, he’s just the doctor’s friend.
Initially looking at it with suspicious, we see Mike grow to like the place. He falls into the peaceful rhythm of the place. He starts to help out the old woman who’s been cooking for him. He helps her stop one of the windows from leaking one night, and replaces the wood around it the next day. When he gets a call from Jimmy, he turns...