Better Call Saul (season 4)

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Better Call Saul (season 4)
Better Call Saul Season 4.jpg
Promotional poster
Starring
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes10
Release
Original networkAMC
Original releaseAugust 6 (2018-08-06) –
October 8, 2018 (2018-10-08)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 3
List of Better Call Saul episodes

The fourth season of the American television drama series Better Call Saul premiered on August 6, 2018, and concluded on October 8, 2018.[1] The fourth season consists of 10 episodes and aired on Mondays at 9:00 pm (Eastern) in the United States on AMC.[2] Better Call Saul is a spin-off prequel of Breaking Bad created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould who also worked on Breaking Bad.[1]

The first and second seasons mainly took place in 2002, with season three advancing the storyline to 2003. The fourth season also takes place mainly in 2003, with the last three episodes taking place in 2004. In season four, Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) struggle to cope with Chuck's (Michael McKean) death. Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) believes that his decision to force Chuck out of HHM led to Chuck's death, and suffers with depression and disengagement from work. Mike (Jonathan Banks) performs security inspections at Madrigal, disregarding the fact that his consulting contract was supposed to be only a paper transaction. Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) is suspicious of Nacho (Michael Mando) after Hector's (Mark Margolis) stroke. Nacho becomes a mole for Gus inside the Salamanca organization. Gus hires an engineer and construction crew to begin construction of the meth "superlab" under the industrial laundry. Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) arrives to begin running the family's drug business.

Production[edit]

AMC renewed the series for a 10-episode fourth season in June 2017.[3]

Filming[edit]

Better Call Saul is set and filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the same location as its predecessor.[4] Filming for the fourth season of Better Call Saul began in January 2018. The first episode was directed by Minkie Spiro.[5][6] Production wrapped on May 30, 2018.[7]

In the first scene from the first episode of this season, Jimmy/Saul is using his Gene Takovic alias while working at a Cinnabon in an Omaha, Nebraska shopping mall. The Cinnabon scenes in Better Call Saul are set in Omaha, but filmed at the Cottonwood Mall in Albuquerque, New Mexico.[8]

Mark Margolis, who plays drug kingpin Hector Salamanca, required brain surgery after suffering severe head injuries in an accidental fall.[9]

The episode "Piñata" was directed by Andrew Stanton, who is better known for writing and directing several Pixar films, including Finding Nemo and WALL-E. During a conversation with Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein, the show's executive producers, he was given the suggestion that he accept an opportunity to direct a Better Call Saul episode, which he jumped at, as he had already been a fan of both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, and wanted the opportunity to work with the creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould.[10]

Casting[edit]

David Costabile (pictured), returns in the fourth season episode "Something Beautiful" to reprise his role as chemist Gale Boetticher.

Bob Odenkirk returns as James Morgan "Jimmy" McGill, Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, Rhea Seehorn as Kimberly "Kim" Wexler, Patrick Fabian as Howard Hamlin, Michael Mando as Ignacio "Nacho" Varga, and Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring.[11] Michael McKean (Chuck McGill), who was credited as a main cast member in previous seasons, does not return as a series regular following Chuck's death in the third season finale. In a June 2017 interview following the third season finale, McKean commented on the possibility of returning to the series, stating "I know they want to bring me in for some flashbacks this coming season."[12] McKean made a guest appearance in a flashback sequence at the start of the sixth episode, "Piñata" and again in the season finale, "Winner".

In May 2018, it was reported that Stefan Kapičić would have a recurring role in the fourth season. Kapičić stated, "I'm thrilled that I have a chance to become a part of Better Call Saul family. It is one of my favorite shows on TV and it's a dream come true be a part of the Breaking Bad universe."[13] It has also been confirmed that a character, Lalo, portrayed by Tony Dalton, who was mentioned in the Breaking Bad episode "Better Call Saul" would appear during this season.[14]

The episode "Something Beautiful" marks the first Better Call Saul appearance of Gale Boetticher, a major character from Breaking Bad played by David Costabile. Costabile had been in Albuquerque filming Dig while Better Call Saul's team was wrapping up production of the first season. He met with co-producer Peter Gould, and they agreed to have Gale appear on Better Call Saul. Costabile was able to work in filming for Better Call Saul between filming on Billions,[15] but had only about a week to memorize both his dialogue and the lyrics to Tom Lehrer's "The Elements" which he had to sing karaoke style in his scenes. This short period contrasted with his past singing performances on Breaking Bad, when he had more time to learn the lyrics.[15]

Plot[edit]

The death of Jimmy's brother Chuck serves as a catalyst for his further transformation into Saul Goodman, and Jimmy's entrance into the criminal world puts a strain on his relationship with Kim and his future as a lawyer. Chuck's death also deeply affects Kim and Howard. Mike becomes a security consultant for Madrigal. The collapse of Hector Salamanca impacts the cartel and plans plotted by Gus Fring and Nacho.[16]

Series showrunner Vince Gilligan said in January 2018 that Better Call Saul "gets darker this season",[17] while Bob Odenkirk (Jimmy McGill) said that the fourth season goes to "another level."[18]

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

Recurring[edit]

  • Mark Margolis as Hector Salamanca, a drug kingpin who is part of the same cartel as Gus, and also Gus' principal competition.[21]
  • Kerry Condon as Stacey Ehrmantraut, Mike's widowed daughter-in-law and the mother of Kaylee Ehrmantraut.[22]
  • Jeremiah Bitsui as Victor, Gus' henchman.[23]
  • Vincent Fuentes as Arturo, a criminal associate of Hector Salamanca.[24]
  • Ann Cusack as Rebecca Bois, Chuck's ex-wife.
  • Dennis Boutsikaris as Rich Schweikart, the attorney for Sandpiper Crossing in the class action lawsuit Jimmy develops.
  • Andrew Friedman as Mr. Neff, manager of Neff Copiers.
  • Poorna Jagannathan as Dr. Maureen Bruckner, a Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon secretly paid by Gus to oversee Hector’s treatment.
  • Daniel and Luis Moncada as Leonel and Marco Salamanca, Tuco's cousins and Hector's nephews, who are hitmen for the cartel.[11]
  • Javier Grajeda as Juan Bolsa, a Mexican drug cartel boss
  • Ray Campbell as Tyrus Kitt, a henchman on Gus Fring's payroll.[24]
  • Juan Carlos Cantu as Manuel Varga, Nacho's father, who is the owner of an upholstery shop.
  • Abigail Zoe Lewis as Kaylee Ehrmantraut, Mike's granddaughter.
  • Rex Linn as Kevin Wachtell, the CEO of Mesa Verde and one of Kim's clients.[25]
  • Cara Pifko as Paige Novak, the senior counsel of Mesa Verde and one of Kim's clients.[25]
  • Franc Ross as Ira, a burglar Jimmy hires, and the owner of Vamonos Pest.
  • Keiko Agena as Viola Goto, the paralegal of Kim Wexler.
  • Tommy Nelson as Rocco, the leader of a group of thugs who mugs Jimmy.
  • Carlin James as Zane, a thug who mugs Jimmy.
  • Cory Chapman as Jed, a thug who mugs Jimmy.
  • Eileen Fogarty as Mrs. Nguyen, owner of a nail salon where Jimmy rents the back room.
  • David Costabile as Gale Boetticher, a cheerful, friendly chemist Gus helps pay to educate, and later consults with.[26]
  • Rainer Bock as Werner Ziegler, an engineer hired by Gus to plan and oversee construction of his meth "superlab."
  • Stefan Kapičić as Casper, a member of Werner Ziegler's team for the construction of Gus' meth "superlab".
  • Ben Bela Böhm as Kai, a member of Werner Ziegler's team for the construction of Gus' meth "superlab" who Mike grows suspicious of.
  • Lavell Crawford as Huell Babineaux, a professional pickpocket hired by Jimmy.
  • Michael McKean as Charles Lindbergh "Chuck" McGill, Jr., Jimmy's deceased elder brother and a founding partner of HHM, appears in flashbacks.
  • Josh Fadem as Camera Guy, a film student who helps Jimmy on various projects and schemes.
  • Hayley Holmes as Drama Girl, a film student who helps Jimmy on various projects and schemes.
  • Tony Dalton as Eduardo "Lalo" Salamanca, a member of the Salamanca family who arrives to assist Nacho with Hector's operation.

Guest stars[edit]

  • Ed Begley Jr. as Clifford Main, founder of the law firm Davis & Main, where Jimmy worked as an attorney in season 2.
  • Laura Fraser as Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, a Madrigal Electromotive executive and associate of Gus Fring.[24]
  • JB Blanc as Barry Goodman, a doctor on Gus Fring's payroll.
  • Joe DeRosa as Dr. Caldera, a veterinarian who serves as Mike and Jimmy's liaison to the criminal underworld.[25]
  • Tamara Tunie as Anita, a member of Mike’s support group, whom he befriends.
  • Tina Parker as Francesca Liddy, Jimmy's receptionist.
  • Peter Diseth as Bill Oakley, a deputy district attorney.
  • Max Arciniega as Domingo "Krazy-8" Molina.
  • Brandon K. Hampton as Ernesto, Chuck's assistant who works at HHM, appears in a flashback.

Episodes[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
311"Smoke"Minkie SpiroPeter GouldAugust 6, 2018 (2018-08-06)1.77[27]
In a flash forward, following his collapse while working at the Omaha mall Cinnabon, a nervous "Gene" has a worrying encounter with a hospital clerk who needs his personal information. During his taxi ride home, Gene becomes suspicious of the driver, whose cab displays an Albuquerque Isotopes car air freshener. He exits the cab before reaching his apartment and walks around the corner, out of the cab driver's sight. In 2003, Jimmy and Kim learn of Chuck's death, and believing himself responsible, Jimmy falls into depression. Howard arranges Chuck's funeral, and later admits to Jimmy and Kim that he believes his decision to dismiss Chuck from HHM caused Chuck to commit suicide. Howard explains that Chuck's malpractice insurance rates had become exorbitant – not realizing that Jimmy was to blame for reporting Chuck's instability to the insurers. Jimmy allows Howard to take the blame and quickly regains his happy-go-lucky demeanor. Mike performs actual security, safety and quality control consulting for Madrigal Electromotive and details a list of violations he uncovered on his first site visit. Following Hector's stroke, the cartel bosses direct Nacho and Arturo to take over Hector's drug operations. Gus remains suspicious of Nacho and has Victor follow him.
322"Breathe"Michelle MacLarenThomas SchnauzAugust 13, 2018 (2018-08-13)1.55[28]
With his law license suspended, Jimmy interviews for a job as a salesman at Neff Copiers and spots an opportunity to steal a valuable Hummel figurine. Rebecca and Kim meet with Howard to review the disposition of Chuck's estate. Kim is unaware of Jimmy’s role in the events which led to Chuck’s death and has an explosive confrontation with Howard in which she lambastes him for treating Jimmy poorly ever since. Lydia tells Mike that his security consulting is a paper transaction to facilitate the laundering of the money he stole from the Salamancas. Mike insists on continuing actual inspections, arguing that they provide a plausible explanation in case anyone looks into the payments. Gus discreetly pays a skilled doctor to help Hector recover from his stroke and learns Nacho was responsible for it. When Arturo and Nacho come to his facility to acquire more drugs, Arturo strong arms his way into taking more than he's supposed to. He brags about his success as they leave, but Gus ambushes and kills him. Gus then informs Nacho he knows Nacho attempted to murder Hector, but that the Salamancas don't, and because of this knowledge, Nacho is now under Gus's control.
333"Something Beautiful"Daniel SackheimGordon SmithAugust 20, 2018 (2018-08-20)1.51[29]
Mike is unwilling to steal the Hummel, so Jimmy hires Ira to do it. Kim returns to working with Mesa Verde, but is concerned about their planned rapid expansion. Victor and Tyrus arrange Arturo's death to look like a gang attack, deflecting attention from Nacho and hiding his involvement with Gus. The staged attack includes bullet wounds for Nacho, who calls Leonel and Marco (the Cousins) for aid. They succeed in getting Nacho to Dr. Caldera alive; he covertly saves Nacho, but recommends Nacho seek proper care to ensure there are no complications. The cousins alert the cartel that the attack looks like the one carried out previously on one of their trucks (the one Mike attacked while hiding his identity). Concerned that their Mexican routes are vulnerable, Juan Bolsa directs Gus to seek local manufacturers. Gus visits the university to check on the quality of meth samples he gave to Gale Boetticher for testing. Kim tells Jimmy about the disposition of Chuck's will. She gives him a letter purportedly from Chuck, which is undated but full of praise for Jimmy. Jimmy calls it "nice," but Kim is visibly upset by it.
344"Talk"John ShibanHeather MarionAugust 27, 2018 (2018-08-27)1.53[30]
Jimmy is quickly bored with managing a cellular phone store and tries to boost business. He later meets with Ira, who sold the stolen Hummel for more than expected, and offers to carry out future thefts. Bored herself with Mesa Verde work, Kim observes Judge Munsinger’s courtroom, hoping to rekindle her interest in the law by taking on pro bono defense counsel work. Victor sells the drugs from the fake attack on Nacho to the Espinosas, whom Nacho tells the Salamancas were responsible for it. The Cousins kill all the Espinosas, retrieve the "stolen" drugs and return to Mexico. Nacho realizes that by eliminating the Espinosas, Gus secured himself more territory, but doesn’t see the full scope of Gus’s plan. Mike confronts Henry in their support group for falsely claiming to have a wife who died. Later he inspects another Madrigal site and provides a list of quality control and safety items to fix. He meets with Gus, who feigns anger that Mike didn't tell him about Nacho's intent to kill Hector, but Mike says he promised only not to kill Hector himself. He realizes Gus’s ulterior motive and tells him to provide information about "the job" he wants done.
355"Quite a Ride"Michael MorrisAnn CherkisSeptember 3, 2018 (2018-09-03)1.53[31]
In a flash-forward (taking place during Breaking Bad's "Ozymandias"), Francesca quickly shreds documents and Saul frantically collects cash, mementoes and paperwork from his office before contacting his "disappearer" for a new identity. In 2003, Jimmy convinces a customer to buy several prepaid cellular phones as a way to maintain his privacy and then gets the idea to profit by reselling prepaid phones on the street. He sells them all, but the venture proves unsuccessful because he's mugged by three teenagers. As Kim treats his wounds, he blames himself for not recognizing the threat and promises to see a psychologist but instead goes to work the next day as usual. Kim is assigned as counsel for several defendants. When a problem arises with recent Mesa Verde paperwork, Kim sees her current pro bono case through to completion before responding, for which Paige later reprimands her. Mike discreetly escorts foreign structural engineers through the industrial laundry so they can evaluate the space below as a site for Gus's planned meth "superlab." Gus is impressed by one, Werner Ziegler, and offers him the job of planning and overseeing construction of the facility.
366"Piñata"Andrew StantonGennifer HutchisonSeptember 10, 2018 (2018-09-10)1.40[32]
In a flashback, Kim and Jimmy work in HHM’s mailroom. Third-year law student Kim demonstrates her legal knowledge, impressing pre-sickness Chuck and piqueing Jimmy's curiosity. Years later, Kim juggles Mesa Verde work with pro bono criminal defense cases, and Jimmy struggles financially during his suspension. Kim joins Schweikart and Cokely, enabling her to handle both Mesa Verde and criminal cases, but disappointing Jimmy, who realizes the death of his dream to re-start the Wexler-McGill office. Jimmy is informed that Geraldine, his first eldercare client, has died, and he grieves for her more than for Chuck. Jimmy tries to rouse a depressed Howard with a "tough love" speech. He uses his $5,000 inheritance to buy prepaid cell phones for street resale. This time, Jimmy intimidates his three teenage assailants into leaving him alone. Mike creates secret living and recreation facilities for Werner’s crew, who begin constructing Gus’s meth "superlab." Gus visits a hospitalized, unconscious Hector and previews their future by relating a childhood story about trapping a coati that ate the fruit from a lúcuma tree Gus nursed to health. Rather than humanely killing the injured coati after catching it, Gus held it and let it suffer until it died.
377"Something Stupid"Deborah ChowAlison TatlockSeptember 17, 2018 (2018-09-17)1.35[33]
In a time jump sequence of several months that advances the series to early 2004, Jimmy and Kim are shown to be drifting further apart. Kim’s arm has healed, and to Jimmy’s chagrin she thrives at Schweikart & Cokely, with Mesa Verde’s expansion continuing on schedule and Kim finding time to work on the pro bono criminal defense cases that give her satisfaction. Jimmy plans his return to practicing law, including searching for an office. His business re-selling prepaid phones on the street continues to grow, and he increasingly uses his "Saul Goodman" alias. Huell is arrested for assaulting a police officer who tries to get Jimmy to end his phone business and Jimmy involves Kim in defending him. He tries to get her to smear the police officer so the charges will be dropped, but she refuses, telling Jimmy she has a better way. Hector begins recovering from his stroke, so Gus dismisses Dr. Bruckner, in effect trapping Hector’s recovered mind in his unhealed body. Mike observes Werner’s crew during construction of the underground meth lab; work proceeds more slowly than expected, frustrating the crew, and Mike has to step in to break up a fight.
388"Coushatta"Jim McKayGordon SmithSeptember 24, 2018 (2018-09-24)1.37[34]
Kim enlists S&C employees in Huell’s defense and indicates she'll bury Suzanne in paperwork. Jimmy takes a bus ride, uses a variety of pens and paper to write supportive mail for Huell, and enlists the other passengers to help. The mail is sent with return addresses and postmarks from Coushatta, Louisiana, Huell’s hometown. Suzanne investigates, but Jimmy’s arranged for a fake church website and pay-as-you go cellular phones that Jimmy and his TV ad film crew answer. The phony support causes Suzanne to accept a plea that keeps Huell out of jail. Kim is elated, and tells Jimmy she wants to engage in similar behavior again. Mike arranges a strip club outing for Werner and his crew. Kai starts a fight, but the real problem is Werner, who drunkenly discusses underground concrete construction details with strangers. A fully healed Nacho is more prominent in the Salamanca organization and trains Domingo to punish dealers who don’t meet their weekly quota. "Lalo" Salamanca arrives to aid in running the business. Unlike Hector, Lalo is interested in everyday details, giving Nacho cause for concern. At home, Nacho keeps a safe with cash and fake Canadian IDs for his father and himself.
399"Wiedersehen"Vince GilliganGennifer HutchisonOctober 1, 2018 (2018-10-01)1.35[35]
Jimmy and Kim surreptitiously replace approved plans for a Mesa Verde branch in Lubbock, Texas with plans for a bigger building. Jimmy answers the questions eloquently at his reinstatement hearing, but his application is denied. The chairman suggests Jimmy’s answers were insincere, and when he recounts the details to Kim, she explains to Jimmy that he didn’t mention Chuck. Jimmy’s relationship with Chuck caused his suspension, so the panel expected Jimmy to discuss it. He defensively accuses Kim of "slumming" with him whenever she needs something, while Kim says she’s always supportive and Jimmy causes his own problems. That night, Jimmy starts moving out, but Kim stops him and offers to help him win reinstatement. Lalo visits Hector and improves his communication ability with a concierge bell Lalo kept as a souvenir after Hector killed a hotelier and burned the building. Lalo next thanks Gus for saving Hector’s life and paying for his treatment. Finally, he asks Nacho to show him where the Salamancas receive their drugs after Gus’s trucks bring them from Mexico. Werner’s crew blows up the rock preventing construction of the elevator and celebrates that their work is almost done. Werner misses his wife and escapes.
4010"Winner"Adam BernsteinPeter Gould & Thomas SchnauzOctober 8, 2018 (2018-10-08)1.53[36]
In a flashback Chuck feigns enthusiasm on the day Jimmy becomes an attorney. In 2004, Kim helps Jimmy’s appeal by arranging public displays where he feigns grief for Chuck. Jimmy participates in interviewing Chuck’s scholarship candidates and connects with one whose past includes shoplifting. He tells her the other panel members didn't select her and counsels her that the powerful will never look past her youthful mistake, so she should do whatever's necessary to get ahead. At his appeal, Jimmy speaks extemporaneously about how he wants to bring credit to the McGill name if allowed to practice law again. His appeal succeeds, and even Kim believes him, but he reveals it was a con, and his declaration that he won’t practice under his own name stuns her. Lalo surveils Gus’s drug operation and learns about its regular activities. Werner plans a rendezvous with his wife and Lalo tricks him into revealing lab construction details over the phone before Mike ends the call. Mike intends to kill him, so Werner calls his wife at the airport and sends her home, after which Mike shoots him. Gus shows Gale the nearly completed lab, constructed according to Gale’s design.

Reception[edit]

The fourth season, much like the previous three, has received critical acclaim, particularly for its pace and character development. On Metacritic, the season has a score of 87 out of 100 based on 16 critics.[37] On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has a 99% approval rating with an average score of 8.86 out of 10 based on 30 reviews. The site's critical consensus states, "Well-crafted and compelling as ever, Better Call Saul deftly balances the show it was and the one it will inevitably become."[38] Based on the first three episodes of season four, Liz Shannon Miller of IndieWire gave the series a highly positive review with an "A" grade. She wrote that season four is "better, deeper, and more daring" and that it is "one of the most subtle and brilliant shows on TV."[39]

Better Call Saul was named one of the top 10 television programs of the year by the American Film Institute.[40]

Ratings[edit]

No. Title Air date Rating
(18–49)
Viewers
(millions)
DVR
(18–49)
DVR viewers
(millions)
Total
(18–49)
Total viewers
(millions)
1 "Smoke" August 6, 2018 0.6 1.77[27] 0.5 1.41 1.1 3.18[41][a]
2 "Breathe" August 13, 2018 0.4 1.55[28] 0.7 1.77 1.1 3.32[42]
3 "Something Beautiful" August 20, 2018 0.4 1.51[29] 0.5 1.35 0.9 2.86[43][a]
4 "Talk" August 27, 2018 0.4 1.53[30] 0.7 1.99 1.1 3.52[44]
5 "Quite a Ride" September 3, 2018 0.4 1.53[31] 0.7 1.87 1.1 3.40[45]
6 "Piñata" September 10, 2018 0.4 1.40[32] 0.7 1.98 1.1 3.38[46]
7 "Something Stupid" September 17, 2018 0.4 1.35[33] 0.5 1.44 0.9 2.79[47][a]
8 "Coushatta" September 24, 2018 0.5 1.37[34] 0.4 1.42 0.9 2.79[48][a]
9 "Wiedersehen" October 1, 2018 0.5 1.35[35] 0.5 1.74 1.0 3.10[49]
10 "Winner" October 8, 2018 0.5 1.53[36] 0.6 1.71 1.1 3.24[50]
  1. ^ a b c d Live +7 ratings were not available, so Live +3 ratings have been used instead.

References[edit]

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  3. ^ Snierson, Dan (June 27, 2017). "Better Call Saul renewed for season 4". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
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